Young officers debate blame for Iraq

April 22, 2006 at 9:58 PM

WEST POINT, N.Y., April 22 (UPI) -- Public criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by retired generals has opened debate at the U.S. Military Academy and in command posts and mess halls.

One Army colonel enrolled in a Defense Department university said an informal poll among his classmates indicated about 25 percent believed Rumsfeld should resign, and 75 percent believed he should remain, The New York Times reported.

Many officers who blame Rumsfeld do not fault President George W. Bush -- in contrast to the situation in the 1960s, when both President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara drew criticism over Vietnam.

An Army major in Special Forces criticized both Bush and Rumsfeld.

"I believe that a large number of officers hate Rumsfeld as much as I do, and would like to see him go," he said.

"I feel conflicted by this debate, and I think a lot of my colleagues are also conflicted," said an Army colonel completing a year of training at one of the military's advanced schools.

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