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Pristina From an Amateur Military Strategist's Perspective (About Clark)

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DoveTurnedHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 10:31 AM
Original message
Pristina From an Amateur Military Strategist's Perspective (About Clark)
Edited on Sun Sep-14-03 10:32 AM by DoveTurnedHawk
Much has been made of General Wesley Clark supposedly "almost starting World War III" in connection with a potential confrontation at Pristina Airport during the Kosovo action.

In order to fully understand the completely ridiculous nature of this charge, a solid understanding of warfare is useful.

The Russian force at Pristina number 200 lightly armed and armored troops, traveling in armored personnel carriers and TRUCKS. With that mere number of men, they barely would have had enough manpower to secure the terminal, much less the entire airport.

In contrast, the NATO forces available in the area vastly outnumbered, outgunned and outarmored the Russian force. They also had 100% air superiority.

As many are aware, General Clark's orders were merely to assert a presence in the area. His orders were NOT to attack the airport, or provoke a confrontation, or anything even remotely close to those things.

For the Russian forces to start a confrontation under those circumstances would have been suicidal, and both sides would have known it. Although the Russian military has deteriorated over the years, their officer corps is still comprised of professionals, and there is no way they would have provoked NATO. The Russians were on the spot, and they knew it.

In contrast, the NATO rules of engagement were UNDOUBTEDLY as restrictive as a straitjacket. I'm willing to bet that given the respective sizes, firepower and force protection qualities of the two
forces, the ROE probably stated that EVEN IF they came under incidental fire by the Russians, they should not return fire.

General Clark's orders would have amounted to a clever tactical move -- a move endorsed, by the way, by Javier Solana, the civilian head of NATO and other leaders in the chain-of-command -- had Jackson simply obeyed orders as he was obligated to do. Yes, it's true that Hungary came through for NATO by denying air overflight rights to the Russians at the last moment, but as Clark has often said, "parallel planning" is critically important to any endeavor: you just don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

I hope this effort lays some of the concern regarding this incident to rest. Jackson's "WW3" comment was not only gross hyperbole, it was also scurrilous in light of his own insubordination and complete failure to follow orders, an actionable military offense.

DTH
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incontrovertible Donating Member (643 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 10:40 AM
Response to Original message
1. probably right
I'm willing to bet that given the respective sizes, firepower and force protection qualities of the two forces, the ROE probably stated that EVEN IF they came under incidental fire by the Russians, they should not return fire.

I'd bet this is probably right. It would've been a big black eye on the Administration and the campaign if NATO took casualties, but I would imagine the response would have been to surround and cut off the Russian contingent at the airport, and start negotiating for their evacuation.

If Putin had been totally insane, however, and tried to foment a breakout with air support, it would've been time to rock. A few .223 rounds taken here and there is a lot different than having your armored columns strafed with .5 kT groundbursts from MiG-25s.

(In that case, NATO would've eaten them alive. Doubt it would've flared beyond that; the Russian military's nowhere near what it was in, say, 1982. Charlie Wilson saw to that).
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DoveTurnedHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. No Way
If they couldn't get overflight rights from Hungary for transport planes, there's no way they could've come anywhere close for military planes (which, by the way, we would've seen coming from far, far away). Putin is a canny man, he would not have started that confrontation.

All the rest, we agree on, though. :-)

DTH
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Donna Zen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. two cents
First Yelsin, at the low end of his career, was in charge not Putin. That is no small matter in this story.

Second, the Yeltsin government was insisting to Washington via Albright who iirc was in Moscow, that what was happening on the ground was not happening.

Three, the 200 troops had moved illegally into Kosovo. Four, the Russian Defense Minister was part of the old guard and disagreed with greater cooperation with West/USA.

Five, Milosevic wanted a partition and the Russian Defense Minister wanted to give him one.

Six, Cohen wanted to screw Clark, aka Clinton's General, and the orders that Clark had received from Washington just hours before were changed in agreement with London without notice made to Clark.

Seven, the diplomats were in Belgrade with Milosevic hammering out the final agreement as this was happening, thus Milo and his rogue buddies saw the airport as their last chance to unravel NATO.

Eight, everyone of the people closest to the end of this operation, including Jackson whom Clark had/has great respect for, had not slept in days. While sleep deprevation was certainly no excuse, Clark speculates on the tone of the exchange and feels that because he was in command, it was his place to have foreseen the disagreement and prevented it.

Clark's words: Jackson and I had been through the ambiguities and complexities of this operation for months. The negotiations were especially grueling, I knew because of the centralized control and stream of changes over which neithr of us had much control. We both knew vry well that this was a multinational orgainzation, where the views of all nations and especially the most powerful, will always have to be taken into account.

Last thoughts: The wonder here is that Wesley Clark has asked to conduct a war with one hand tied behind his back and then wrote a book advocating for multinational organizations under civilian authority.

Oh did you see that rush is chiding him for bombing for high altitudes....? Yep, of course that is the only course of action those "civilian authorities" could agree on. God I'm sick of dumb republicans.
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DoveTurnedHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. 100% Agreed
Sorry about the Yeltsin thing, I realized that after-the-fact.

Donna :yourock:

DTH
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Kahuna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 11:27 AM
Response to Original message
3. Clark showed guts and that he has the determination to..
accomplish his mission. So what Clark confronted the Russians. He did what he was supposed to do. The WWIII nonsense is just ridiculous leftist-pacifist hyperbole.
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DoveTurnedHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Interestingly
It has been posited that the RW effort to smear Clark with this largely failed (and will fail) among the other conservatives, as they were hardly upset at the notion of standing up to the Russians.

DTH
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TacticalPeek Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 12:21 PM
Response to Original message
6. For me, that insubordinate POS twit Jackson
caused the main tactical or strategic disappointment from KFOR. What stripe of talent does it take to let a light column of Russians ride into and commandeer an airport in your area of operation? And then let it sit there, against your orders, hoping the striped pants platoon bails your sorry ass out?
Jackson should get the Ollie North Presumptuous Insubordination Award.
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