Eric Shinseki

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Japanese-American, and the first person of Asian ancestry to achieve a ranking of four stars in the U.S. military. Became the 34th U.S. Army Chief of Staff on 22 June 1999. Shinseki retired from that position in 2003. President-elect Barack Obama chose the retired General to be the Veterans Affairs secretary on December 7, 2008.

Shinseki will be remembered for his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 25, 2003. In response to questioning by Sen. Carl Levin, the then Army Chief of Staff said that “something on the order of several hundred thousand” soldiers may be needed to stabilize post-war Iraq.

The Pentagon’s top leaders quickly shot down Shinseki’s estimate. Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz dismissed it as “way off the mark” in testimony before the House Budget Committee two days later, while his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, thought Shinseki’s estimate “will prove to be high.”

General Shinseki retired shortly thereafter in 2003.

Eric K. Shinseki was born November 28, 1942 in Lihue, Kauai in the then Territory of Hawaii. As a boy he was inspired by the stories of uncles who had fought with Senator Daniel Inouye in Europe with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion. These men “bought for me and my generation our birthrights as American citizens. Because of what they, and others of their generation, did on those distant battlefields so many years ago, I have lived my life without suspicion, without limitation, with the full rights and privileges of citizenship, and with the opportunity to compete.”

External Links

  • Frontline: Interview with General Eric K. Shinseki Frontline.
  • Boyer, Peter J. A Different War New Yorker, July 1, 2002.
  • Shinseki vindicated by retired generals' revolt Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 19, 2006.
  • Cole, William. New museum exhibit honors Shinseki Honolulu Advertiser, July 21, 2006.
  • Advertiser News Services. Kaua'i-born general 'was right' Honolulu Advertiser, November 16, 2006.
  • Yen, Hope. Obama picks Shinseki for VA Honolulu Star-Bulletin, December 7, 2008.
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