FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Meet the Real Gen. Clark

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

Anyone seeking to understand the bloody fiasco of the Serbian war need hardly look further than the person of the beribboned 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 opponents.

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 foe.

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

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail