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Getting To Know Eric Shinseki

NAME: Eric Shinseki

AGE: 66

NEW APPOINTMENT: Secretary of Veterans Affairs

OTHER TOP POSITIONS: Chief of Staff of the Army (1999-2003); Commander of the NATO Stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

KNOWN FOR: Testifying before Congress (pictured to the left) in February 2003 that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed in Iraq. "[It] takes a significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this," he testified. His statements instigated a public battle with defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, who both insisted that a lower estimate was correct. "The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark" Rumsfeld said in response to the testimony. But a Shinseki spokesman told The New York Times, "He was asked a question and he responded with his best military judgment." After reportedly losing clout among the Joint Chiefs because of his stance, Shinseki retired in June 2003. He was vindicated in January 2007 with the announcement of the much-praised troop surge.

TRIVIA: A native Hawaiian like Obama; a veteran of Vietnam, where he lost part of a foot after stepping on a land mine; the first Asian-American to become a four-star general, and to lead a branch of the armed services.

--Seyward Darby