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<nettime> (fwd) Meet the Real Gen. Clark: Vain, Pompous, Brown-noser


Vain, Pompous, Brown-noser
Meet the Real Gen. Clark

Anyone seeking to understand the bloody fiasco of the
Serbian war need hardly look further than the person of the
beribonned Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley K.
Clark. Politicians and journalists are generally according
him a respectful hearing as he discourses on the "schedule"
for the destruction of Serbia, tellingly embracing phrases
favored by military bureaucrats such as "systematic" and
"methodical".  The reaction from former army subordinates is
very different.

"The poster child for everything that is wrong with the GO
(general officer) corps," exclaims one colonel, who has had
occasion to observe Clark in action, citing, among other
examples, his command of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort
Hood from 1992 to 1994.

While Clark's official Pentagon biography proclaims his
triumph in "transitioning the Division into a rapidly
deployable force" this officer describes the "1st Horse
Division" as "easily the worst division I have ever seen in
25 years of doing this stuff."

Such strong reactions are common. A major in the 3rd Brigade
of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado when
Clark was in command there in the early 1980s described him
as a man who "regards each and every one of his subordinates
as a potential threat to his career".

While he regards his junior officers with watchful
suspicion, he customarily accords the lower ranks little
more than arrogant contempt. A veteran of Clark's tenure at
Fort Hood recalls the general's "massive tantrum because the
privates and sergeants and wives in the crowded (canteen)
checkout lines didn't jump out of the way fast enough to let
him through".

Clark's demeanor to those above is, of course, very
different, a mode of behavior that has earned him rich
dividends over the years. Thus, early in 1994, he was a
candidate for promotion from two to three star general. Only
one hurdle remained - a war game exercise known as the
Battle Command Training Program in which Clark would have to
maneuver his division against an opposing force.  The
commander of the opposing force, or "OPFOR" was known for
the military skill with which he routinely demolished

But Clark's patrons on high were determined that no such
humiliation should be visited on their favorite. Prior to
the exercise therefore, strict orders came down that the
battle should go Clark's way. Accordingly, the OPFOR was
reduced in strength by half, thus enabling Clark, despite
deploying tactics of signal ineptitude, to triumph. His
third star came down a few weeks later.

Battle exercises and war games are of course meant to test
the fighting skills of commanders and troops. The army's
most important venue for such training is the National
Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, where Clark
commanded from October 1989 to October 1991 and where his
men derisively nicknamed him "Section Leader Six" for his
obsessive micro-management.

At the NTC, army units face a resident OPFOR that has,
through constant battle practice coupled with innovative
tactics and close knowledge of the terrain, become adept at
routing the visiting "Blue Force" opponents. For Clark, this
naturally posed a problem. Not only were his men using
unconventional tactics, they were also humiliating Blue
Force generals who might nurture resentment against the NTC
commander and thus discommode his career at some future
date. To the disgust of the junior OPFOR officers Clark
therefore frequently fought to lose, sending his men on
suicidal attacks in order that the Blue Forces should go
home happy and owing debts of gratitude to their obliging

All observers agree that Clark has always displayed an
obsessive concern with the perquisites and appurtenances of
rank. Ever since he acceded to the Nato command post, the
entourage with which he travels has accordingly grown to
gargantuan proportions to the point where even civilians are
beginning to comment. A Senate aide recalls his appearances
to testify, prior to which aides scurry about the room
adjusting lights, polishing his chair, testing the
microphone etc prior to the precisely timed and
choreographed moment when the Supreme Allied Commander
Europe makes his entrance.

"We are state of the art pomposity and arrogance up here,"
remarks the aide. "So when a witness displays those traits
so egregiously that even the senators notice, you know we're
in trouble." His NATO subordinates call him, not with
affection, "the Supreme Being".

"Clark is smart," concludes one who has monitored his
career. "But his whole life has been spent manipulating
appearances (e.g. the doctored OPFOR exercise) in the
interests of his career. Now he is faced with a reality he
can't control." This observer concludes that, confronted
with the wily Slobodan and other unavoidable variables of
war, Clark will soon come unglued. "Watch the carpets at
NATO HQ for teeth marks." CP

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