Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has vehemently denied President Obama’s claim that the Bush administration ignored the military’s repeated requests for more troops in Afghanistan.
“Such a bald misstatement, at least as it pertains to the period I served as secretary of defense, deserves a response,” Rumsfeld said in a statement on Wednesday.
In his speech Tuesday night, Obama asserted that the war in Iraq drew needed resources away from Afghanistan, which allowed the situation there to deteriorate after 2003.
"Throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq," Obama said. "Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive."
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Rumsfeld countered: "I am not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006. If any such requests occurred, ‘repeated’ or not, the White House should promptly make them public.
“The President's assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan.
“In the interest of better understanding the President's announcement last night, I suggest that the Congress review the President’s assertion in the forthcoming debate and determine exactly what requests were made, who made them, and where and why in the chain of command they were denied.”
Despite Obama’s use of the phrase “throughout this period,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed on Wednesday that Obama was referring to requests made during 2008, after Rumsfeld had left his post, Fox News reported.
Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, who was named to head Afghan efforts in mid-2008, concluded later that year that he didn't have enough troops to fight the Taliban.
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