In February 2003, Gen. Eric Shinseki famously predicted that “several hundred thousand” troops would be needed for post-war hostilities in Iraq. According to documents recently released by the Pentagon in response to The New York Times’s expose on its propaganda program, however, Donald Rumsfeld claimed in a 2006 briefing that the reason why he did not support a larger invasion force was because commanders did not request it:
RUMSFELD: Now, it turns out he [Shinkseki] was right. The commanders–you guys ended up wanting roughly the same as you had for the major combat operation, and that’s what we have. There is no damned guidebook that says what the number ought to be. We were queued up to go up to what, 400-plus thousand.
Q: Yes, they were already in queue.
RUMSFELD: They were in the queue. We would have gone right on if they’d wanted them, but they didn’t, so life goes on.
In reality, Rumsfeld fought back when generals like Shinseki requested more troops. He said in 2003 that Shinseki was “far from the mark.” As McClatchy reported in 2004, “Central Command originally proposed a force of 380,000 to attack and occupy Iraq. Rumsfeld’s opening bid was about 40,000. … By September 2003, Rumsfeld and his aides thought, there would be very few American troops left in Iraq.”