Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I wanna see Dubya's military record

Several months, of course, would be blank.

There's been some carping from apparently embittered men with small minds about Wes Clark's character and military performance. Many are anonymous cowards, and the most prominent has been Hugh "Can I get some vodka" Shelton, who attacked with innuendo and then crawled back into his hole.

This move should provide some additional perspective:

Clark's Campaign Releases Glowing Accounts of His Military Career
October 16, 2003

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 — The campaign of Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who has based his Democratic presidential bid on his career in the United States Army, this week released 200 pages of internal military evaluations from his commanding officers, who repeatedly used only superlatives to describe his skills, energy and leadership abilities.

The comments of his commander when he oversaw a tank battalion in Germany in 1977 were typical: "The most brilliant and gifted officer I've known." The commander, Col. Charles G. Prather IV, added: "I have never been more impressed with an officer's talent and dedication." He added that he should rank with men like Douglas MacArthur.

A year later, the future General Clark, now 58, had advanced to assistant executive officer to Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr., then Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. In his evaluation, General Haig wrote: "Major Clark is an officer of impeccable character with a rare blend of personal qualities and professional attributes which uniquely qualify him as a soldier-scholar."

The records include high praise from Colin L. Powell, now secretary of state and then an assistant division commander at Fort Carson, Colo., who called then-Lieutenant Clark an officer of "the rarest potential." The evaluations end in 1993, when General Clark earned his second star; officers at or above the rank of two-star general do not receive such performance reviews.

The campaign plans to release the documents widely on Thursday when it will be making available for comment several officials who served in the Army with General Clark, including Gen. Don Kerrick, who is retired; Lt. Gen. Dan Christman, who is also retired; and Cris Hernandez, who was General Clark's security officer when he commanded the allied forces in Kosovo.
Gen. John Shalikashvili, who is retired and who is also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ...called General Clark an outstanding commander who was "quick of mind and an extraordinary strategic thinker." He said General Clark would not have been promoted repeatedly if most of his commanders did not agree. ...

The years of evaluations released by the campaign show a cadet who rose through the ranks with ease. His superiors consistently described him as confident, imaginative, organized, an inspiration to his troops, a trusted adviser to his commanders and an officer with unlimited potential.

One commander took note of the superlatives frequently used in such reviews but said that then-Lieutenant Colonel Clark deserved them.

"Every once in a while, one is privileged to encounter an officer so uniquely gifted that the overworked superlatives commonly utilized on evaluation reports are inadequate to effectively describe his duty performance," the commander wrote in 1981. "LTC Clark is that officer. A brilliant, dynamic and exceptionally innovative commander, his battalion has been characterized by superb esprit, discipline and professionalism."

The next year, Colin Powell similarly noted the penchant for the "raters" on performance reviews to exaggerate. But in this case, he said, "The rater does not overstate." He added, "Wes Clark has been a superb battalion commander and will be a superb brigade commander. He is an officer of the rarest potential and will clearly rise to senior general officer rank. He will be one of the Army's leaders in the 1990's."

One recurring trait that appears in the evaluations is that General Clark always spoke his mind. The evaluations are replete with mentions that he "was not a yes-man," and "says what he thinks."

General Clark has made such qualities a theme of his presidential campaign. In almost every speech, the general, who has sharply criticized President Bush's conduct of the Iraq war, urges audiences to "challenge authority" and asserts that dissent is "the highest form of patriotism."

Through most of his career, his willingness to question served him well.

"Completely candid," one evaluator wrote in 1977. "Exceptionally stable," he added. "Never careless or irrational in his judgment."

It was the following year that General Haig wrote his evaluation.

"Major Clark's earnestness, sincerity of purpose and absolute dedication convey a moral force in his work which gives him a significant voice in this headquarters."

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