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General picked as US veteran boss

Eric Shinseki
General Shinseki was ousted as Army chief of staff in 2003

United States President-elect Barack Obama has chosen the former army chief of staff, Eric Shinseki, as his secretary of veterans' affairs.

Mr Obama told NBC television that General Shinseki was "exactly the right person" to honour returning soldiers.

Gen Shinseki left his top army job after disagreeing with the defence secretary over troop levels needed in Iraq after the invasion.

He was the first four-star general of Japanese-American ancestry.

Iraq disagreement

Mr Obama made his comments ahead of a press conference on Sunday in Chicago to announce the appointment.

Gen Shinseki's time as chief of staff from 1999 to 2003 was marked by constant tensions with then-Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, particularly over the issue of Iraq.

In 2003 he testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand US troops to control Iraq after the invasion.

His estimate was dismissed by Mr Rumsfeld, and he was ousted from his job within months.

But Mr Obama said he was suitable for the post of veteran affairs because he "was right" in predicting that the US would need more troops in Iraq than Mr Rumsfeld believed at the time.

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