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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld stepped down Wednesday after Republicans absorbed heavy losses in elections shaped by public opposition to the war in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld stepped down Wednesday after Republicans absorbed heavy losses in elections shaped by public opposition to the war in Iraq. (Mindaugas Kulbis / AP file photo)

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been a lightning rod for criticism during his tenure. Some highlights of his time at the Pentagon:

January 2001: In the new Bush administration, Rumsfeld is first slated to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency but is eventually chosen to head the Defense Department.

February 2001: Rumsfeld declares his intention to reshape the U.S. military from a slow, heavy force designed to fight the Soviet Union to an agile, technology-intensive force that focuses on “expeditionary” capabilities.

Sept. 11, 2001: Rumsfeld is in the Pentagon when terrorists slam a jetliner into the building. He later helps with emergency-response efforts.

October 2001: Rumsfeld establishes his style at a Pentagon press conference, saying, “As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

April 2002: Rumsfeld’s relationship with the Army begins to flag when he names Gen. John Keane, the Army’s vice chief of staff, as its next chief, a full 15 months before Gen. Eric Shinseki was scheduled to retire.

October 2002: Rumsfeld kills the Army’s mobile howitzer system, the Crusader, saying it is too heavy to deploy and not relevant to his transformation strategy.

April 2003: Responding to questions about the breakdown of law and order in Iraq, Rumsfeld says freedom is “untidy.”

August 2003: Rumsfeld breaks precedent by passing over the entire active-duty Army officer corps and bringing a retiree, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, back into uniform as the new chief of staff.

April 2004: The Abu Ghraib scandal breaks. Rumsfeld tells the press he offered to resign over the matter and that President Bush has refused his resignation.

December 2004: Responding to a soldier’s question about vehicle armor, Rumsfeld says “As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

April 2006: Several former generals call for Rumsfeld’s ouster, saying he has mishandled the Iraq war, including retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who writes an opinion piece calling him “incompetent strategically, operationally, and tactically.” Bush issues a written statement expressing his “full support” for the defense secretary.


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