US former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld dies aged 88

30 June 2021, 20:43 | Updated: 30 June 2021, 21:37

Donald Rumsfeld resigned as US defence secretary in 2006
Donald Rumsfeld resigned as US defence secretary in 2006. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

US former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld has died at the age of 88, according to his family.

Mr Rumsfeld served under President George W Bush, and was one of the main architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

A statement said he died "surrounded by his family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico".

Mr Rumsfeld's reputation as a skilled bureaucrat and visionary of a modern US military was soiled by the long and costly Iraq war.

Donald Rumsfeld served under President George W Bush
Donald Rumsfeld served under President George W Bush. Picture: PA

In 2001, he began his second tour as Pentagon chief under President Bush, but his plan to "transform" the armed forces was overshadowed by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

He oversaw the US invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, where he was blamed for setbacks including the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and for being slow to recognise a violent insurgency.

As a result of the criticism over his military planning, Mr Rumsfeld was forced to resign from his role in 2006.

Donald Rumsfeld pictured in 2019
Donald Rumsfeld pictured in 2019. Picture: PA

A statement from his family said: "It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Donald Rumsfeld, an American statesman and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.

"At 88, he was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.

"History may remember him for his extraordinary accomplishments over six decades of public service, but for those who knew him best and whose lives were forever changed as a result, we will remember his unwavering love for his wife Joyce, his family and friends, and the integrity he brought to a life dedicated to country."

President Richard Nixon meeting with advisor Donald Rumsfeld
President Richard Nixon meeting with advisor Donald Rumsfeld. Picture: PA

Mr Rumsfeld is the only person to serve twice as Pentagon chief. The first time, in 1975-77, he was the youngest ever. The next time, in 2001-06, he was the oldest.

After retiring in 2008, he headed the Rumsfeld Foundation, promoting public service and working with charities that provided support for military families and wounded veterans.

Mr Rumsfeld is survived by his wife Joyce, three children and seven grandchildren.

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