Friday, July 11, 2008

Wesley Clark Wrong About McCain's Service

Written 1 July

On Sunday, retired General Wesley Clark demeaned and dismissed John McCain’s service to our nation. He threw out the far, far left’s talking point about McCain’s military service not being relevant to his run for the Presidency.

He couldn’t be more wrong.

In trying to make the absurd connection/description, Clark said McCain hadn’t “held executive responsibility,” was “untested and untried,” and fell short “because in the matters of national security policy-making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions.” He went on to say that McCain “hasn’t made the calls.”

General Clark seems to have already forgotten the high standards of responsibility to which we have always held military officers.

There is very little or no room for error or tolerance for mistakes with multi-million dollar aircraft, or any other equipment. The same holds true with an officer’s actions and employment of the resources at his or her disposal. 100% accountability is demanded.

As an officer in combat, on the ground or in the air, you have to be cognizant of risk. One makes innumerable, often rapid-fire decisions, each one gauging risks and the likely outcomes.

You also have to consider your opponent with every decision. The enemy’s capabilities and tactics are a required part of every operations order and the execution of those operations. You don’t step off without knowing them.

Therefore, to say McCain wouldn’t understand risk, gauging the opponent, or accountability is absolutely ludicrous.

Senator McCain experienced those very things each and every second of his Navy life.

On those criteria Clark isn’t just off base, he’s in deep left field.

But the worst of Clark’s statements is that McCain “hasn’t made the calls” or “held executive responsibility.”

He has forgotten that McCain flew an aircraft that was designed to destroy things and worst of all, kill people. Before being shot down, McCain did those very things.

Each and every time he got in the cockpit, he had to bear that burden to his soul.

He, like so many that serve, had to make the decision each and every day to not only go into harms way, but to decide that by his actions people would not live to see another day.

It’s not an easy thing to deal with, knowing full well that by your hand, by your deeds, by your endeavors, people will die.

It’s even harder to live with.

Even though you face an enemy that must be killed for various reasons, as Clint Eastwood’s character in “Unforgiven” poignantly observed, “It’s a hell of a thing killing a man. You take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.”

Thus, those decisions to “pull the trigger” during the course of legal warfare in service to your nation are very much executive decisions and making the call.

In fact, it epitomizes having to make the call, and it absolutely does count as a criterion toward being President.

Although the impact upon ones self may vary with dropping bombs from far off, exposing terrorists for termination, calling in air strikes, or fighting hand to hand in a dark room, the decisions and actions have the same result: people die.

Having experienced and gained full comprehension of the consequences of your decisions and your actions (for your own troops, the enemy, and the unfortunates caught in the middle) certainly qualifies a candidate who has over one who has not.

It’s also a leadership skill for the nation’s Commander-in-Chief.

So those experiences do give McCain much more real world leadership experience than Obama. For that matter, most commissioned, non-commissioned, and staff non-commissioned officers with a combat tour have more leadership skills than Obama. I know some Corporals that would put him to shame when it comes to leadership experience.

General Clark needs to clear his mind of the far left smoke and spend some time remembering what it is we ask of our service men and women. He himself had to make those decisions, but so did many others who worked for him, including, and especially the pilots who fought the air war under his command.

He needs to remember the skill sets that arise from the high standards of accountability, risk assessment, opponent awareness, and decision making that have always been asked of our military leaders, even in John McCain’s day.

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