Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Conflict Paperback – 25 Jul 2002
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About the Author
General Wesley K. Clark, U.S.A. (Ret.) , was Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, from 1997 to 2000 and is currently a military analyst for CNN. He served previously as director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon from 1994 to 1996 and was the lead military negotiator for the Bosnian Peace Accords at Dayton in 1995. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Top Customer Reviews
Clark writes, "In 1993, the US government proposed the so-called `lift and strike' policy, in which the U.N. arms embargo against the former Yugoslavia would be lifted, theoretically enabling the Bosnian Muslim forces to gain the means to defend themselves, and the NATO nations would threaten to strike the Bosnian Serb forces if they continued to attack the Muslims. But to the Europeans, this looked like a recipe for the expansion of the fighting, not its termination. The principle of allowing the Bosnian Muslims in Sarajevo to acquire the arms to defend themselves was directly in conflict with the principles of remaining neutral, containing the conflict, and ameliorating its humanitarian impact."
Similarly today, arming the Libyan rebels is `a recipe for the expansion of the fighting, not its termination' and it is `directly in conflict with the principles of remaining neutral, containing the conflict, and ameliorating its humanitarian impact'. And just as NATO powers overrode these principles then, so NATO is overriding them today.
Clark wrote in the 2001 edition, "In the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
More telling (for me, anyway) than the tone of the book, which shows how political claptrap can tie a commander's hands from committing intelligently (no lessons learned from previous conflicts?), Clark shows throughout the entire book that everything we have been taught regarding the basic principles of warfare, from Sun-Tzu to Clausewitz and beyond, have been completely done away with in the Bosnian conflict. Through technology in our weaponry, the delivery platforms, the intelligence, and most pointedly, in our communications networks (particularly the media), by which we more or less spoon-fed Milosevic our every move well in advance, thus eliminating the vital element of surprise.
Another notion that has brought angst to most Americans is that of the "no-civilian-casualties" conflict. Clark echoes, point-blank, the same words that every commander throughout the history of modern warfare has muttered - war is hell, and people will be killed, combatants and non-combatants; that's the nature of war. With smart technology at our feet, and brilliant weapons technology knocking at the door, we have come to expect that firing a missile onto a bridge where a bus is passing will somehow have allowed the bus to escape unharmed. It's not possible now, nor will it be possible in the future. The weapons, as Clark states, can only be as perfect as not only the people who develop them, but as the people who upload them, arm them, test them, engineer them, and ultimately fire them. I would take it a step further and add that the weapons are only as good as the intelligence which feeds them.
Clark has written a book that deserves recognition as a bold step in Warfare Theory literature, and should be on the Airman's and Soldier's official reading lists for officers and enlisted alike.
Anyone on the staff or getting ready to assume a political office which relates to our NSS should read this book to understand the frustrations of competing demands placed on military commanders in a highly complex environment. Likewise, all future field grade officers should read and understand General Clark's insights. Given the complex nature of military engagement and the blurring of strategic, operational, and tactical realms due to new technology and the media, military leaders would do well to study this book. Warfare has changed in many substantive, as well as subtle ways. Thoughts on the subjects that General Clark exposes could save allied soldiers lives in the future.
This book is a great addition to any military library and those interested in strategic thinking.
Don't Bother Us Now. The U.S. political system is not structured to pay attention to "early warning". Kosovo (as well as Croatia and Serbia beforehand and later Macedonia) were well known looming problems, but in the aftermath of the Gulf War, both Congress and the Administration in power at the time said to the U.S. Intelligence Community, essentially: "don't bother us anymore with this, this is inconvenient warning, we'll get to it when it explodes." We allowed over a hundred thousand to be murdered in genocide, because our political system was "tired."
"Modern war" is an overwhelming combination of micro-management from across the varied nations belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; a reliance on very high-tech weapons with precision effect that are useless in the absence of precision intelligence (and the lawyers insist the intelligence be near-real-time, a virtual impossibility for years to come); and an obsession with avoiding casualties that hand-cuffs our friendly commanders and gives great encouragement to our enemies.
Services versus Commanders. The military services that under Title 10 are responsible for training, equipping, and organizing the forces--but not for fighting them, something the regional commanders-in-chief must do--have become--and I say this advisedly--the biggest impediment to the successful prosecution of operations. The detailed story of the Army staff resistance to the use of the Apache helicopters is the best case study I have ever seen of how senior staff generals with political access can prevent operational generals with field responsibilities from being fully effective. In combination with the insistence of the services that forces be held back for Korean and Persian Gulf threats that might not be realized, instead of supporting a real war that existed in Europe, simply stated, makes it clear that there is a "seam" between our force-creating generals and our force-fighting generals that has gotten *out of control.* The fog of war is thickest in Washington, and the greatest friction--the obstacles to success in war--are largely of our own making.
Lawyers, Fear, and Micro-Management. Just as we recently witnessed a lawyer overruling the general to avoid killing the commander of the Taliban, General Clark's war was dominated by lawyers, a fear of casualties, and micro-management, from Washington, of his use of every weapons system normally left to the discretion of the field commander. This has gotten completely out of hand. Within NATO it is compounded by multi-national forces whose commanders can refuse orders inconsistent with their own national view of things, but reading this book, one is left with the clear understanding that General Clark was fighting a three-front war at all times: with the real enemy, with the media, and with Washington--his NATO commanders were the least of his problems.
Technology Loses to Weather and Lacks Intelligence. Throughout the book there are statements that make it clear that the U.S. military is not yet an all-weather military, and has a very long way to go before it ever will be. Aligned with this incapacity is a high-technology culture that suffers from very weak maintenance and an almost complete lack of intelligence at the level of precision and with the timeliness that is needed for our very expensive weapons to be effective. Nothing has changed since MajGen Bob Scales wrote his excellent Firepower in Limited War, pointing out that artillery still cannot be adequately supported by the intelligence capabilities we have now.
Strategic Mobility Shortfalls, Tactical Aviation Constraints. Although General Clark judges the air war to have been a success, and an essential factor in facilitating "coercive diplomacy", he also communicates two realities about U.S. military aviation: 1) we do not have the strategic aviation lift to get anywhere in less than 90-180 days, and his request for a 75 day mobilization was not possible as a result; and 2) our tactical aviation assets are so specialized, and require so much advance preparation in terms of munitions, route planning, and so on, that they cannot be readily redirected in less than a full day. A full day. This is simply outlandish.
We Don't Do Mountains. No statement in the book hurt me more than one by an Army general telling General Clark that his plans for the ground campaign could not be supported by the U.S. Army because "we don't do mountains" This, in combination with the loser's attitude (no casualties) and the general reluctance of the services to put their high-tech capabilities like the Apache at risk in a real war, sum up the decrepitude of the U.S. military leadership and the Revolution in Military Affairs-Andrew Gordon in Rules of the Game has it exactly right-the post Viet-Nam and post Cold War era has left us with a bunch of high-tech chickens in control of military resources, and we need to find ourselves some rat-catchers able to redirect our military toward a lust for man to man combat in every clime and place-and the low-tech sustainable tools to do the job.
General Clark's concluding words, on page 459: "In Kosovo my commanders and I found that we lacked the detailed prompt information to campaign effectively against the Serb ground forces. Most of the technologies we had been promoting since the Gulf War were still immature, unable to deal with the vagaries of weather, vegetation, and urban areas, or the limitations of bandwidth and airspace. The discrete service programs didn't always fit together technically. And (sic) the officers who operated the programs were not qualified to work across service lines and did not understand the full range of national capabilities. I worried about the nature of Joint skills even among senior officers." Are we ready? No.
The reviewer only has one true objection to this book - the lack of historical background. Clark spends few words on the origins of the Kosovo conflict. One day the Serbs are suddenly very angry at the Kosovo-Albanians and decide to forcibly remove them from Kosovo. That is weak. But the rest of the book is truly amazing.
Rumour has it that Clark wrote this 450-page book in 4 weeks. I don't doubt it since this is clearly a modern warrior with large capacities for free thought and diligent work.
I served seven months in Kosovo with KFOR 1B on Camp Monteith. General Clark's book answers many of the questions we all had while patrolling the trash strewn streets of Kosovo, "Why the hell are we here?". General Clark gives a great lead up to the Serbian aggression in Kosovo and the Albanian provocations which we once again see in Macedonia. His thoughts are well written and easy to read. Starting with the Dayton peace accords, which he was a key player in, Clark takes us through the twisted negotiations and difficulties of the Balkans. His story shows the inherent difficulties in coalition warfare and how I (and thousands of other soldiers) eventually arrived to put "boots on the ground." The other interesting aspect of this book is to watch how the military was severely restricted, almost to the point of endangering American lives, to protect a weak and unclear political agenda. Not only did General Clark have to fight Serbs, NATO, the air power pundits and the media, he also had to fight against his leadership in SecDef Cohen. A great read and interesting story about NATOs first war. Lets hope we never have to go through an experience like the Kosovo Campaign again. Buy this book. You'll throughly enjoy it! -CPT S
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