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However, in an April 19, 2002 article, The Washington Times reported the general’s scheduled retirement as Army chief of staff and named his suggested replacement, Gen. John M. Keane, the Army deputy chief of staff.

He completed his full four-year term on schedule, with a full-honors retirement ceremony in 2003 at Fort Myer. Mr. Rumsfeld did not attend.

Gen. Shinseki, 66, served two combat tours in Vietnam, with the 9th and 25th Infantry Divisions as an artillery forward observer and as commander of Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry. He was severely wounded in action, losing part of a leg.

He was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, and the Air Medal.

According to Vietnam Veterans of America, he is the first Asian-American to reach the rank of four-star general or to head one of the military services. He was appointed army chief of staff by president Bill Clinton in 1999.

In his introduction of the general, Mr. Obama praised him as someone who “has always stood on principle because he has always stood with our troops.” He also specified in his NBC interview, which was conducted Saturday, that he timed the announcement to coincide with Sunday’s anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks.

“Tomorrow, you had mentioned earlier, is when we commemorate Pearl Harbor, and so I’m going to be making an announcement tomorrow about the head of our Veterans Administration,” he said.

The coveted black berets that caught Gen. Shinseki in controversy were worn exclusively by such elites as the Army Rangers and the 82nd Airborne Division until the general ordered that they be standard issue to all soldiers. Gen. Shinseki wanted every soldier donning a beret “as a symbol of unity, a symbol of Army excellence, a symbol of our values.”

The purchase for nearly $30 million was later nixed by the Bush administration. “U.S. troops shall not wear berets made in China or berets made with Chinese content,” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.