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Retired US Military Officer Joins Call for Rumsfeld's Resignation

A retired U.S. Army general who commanded forces in Iraq is calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, echoing the recent criticisms of several other former high-ranking military officers.

During a television interview with CNN Wednesday, retired Major General John Batiste said the military needs "a fresh start" in its civilian leadership.

General Batiste retired last year after commanding the 1st Infantry Division in Tikrit.

He joins several other former high-ranking officers from the Army and Marines who in recent weeks have called on Rumsfeld to step down because of his handling of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

They accuse Rumsfeld and other civilian officials of disregarding the opinions of experienced officers in the days before the 2003 invasion.

Secretary Rumsfeld has rebutted such criticisms. The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace has defended the secretary.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan Thursday said President Bush believes Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job.

Rumsfeld's critics include retired Marine Corps Lt. General Gregory Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, who was responsible for operations in the Middle East, and retired Army Maj. General Paul Eaton, who led the training of Iraqi Security forces.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.