Donald Rumsfeld, the two-time US defence secretary and one-time presidential candidate whose reputation as a skilled bureaucrat and visionary of a modern military was soiled by the long and costly Iraq war, has died, his family says.

He was 88.

Regarded by former colleagues as equally smart and combative, patriotic and politically cunning, Rumsfeld had a storied career under four presidents and nearly a quarter century in corporate America.

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

Accompanied by then-Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush examines the devastation at the Pentagon, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001.
Accompanied by then-Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush examines the devastation at the Pentagon, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001. Credit: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AP

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.

Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld has died at age 88, his family says in a statement. Credit: EPA
President Bush, right, walks out of the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006 with then-outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
President Bush, right, walks out of the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006 with then-outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Credit: GERALD HERBERT/AP

Former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld dies aged 88
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