Clark offers military presence - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Clark offers military presence

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Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 6:34 pm | Updated: 5:25 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

A selective look at Wesley Clark’s resume would seem to draw obvious parallels to former President Bill Clinton.

Both grew up in Arkansas, adopted by stepfathers after their natural fathers died.

Both rose from humble beginnings to become Rhodes scholars.

Clinton has been a twoterm president. Clark wants to be.

But while Clinton avoided military service, Clark sought out that path.

Clark entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1962 at the age of 17. Four years later, he graduated first in his class. After two years in England as a Rhodes Scholar, he was sent to Vietnam.

As a 25-year-old Army captain, Clark’s company came under fire while on patrol. He was shot four times, but refused to be evacuated and continued commanding his soldiers until they overran the enemy positions. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

Clark rose through the ranks to become one of the top commanders in the Army, a four-star general who led American forces throughout the globe. He served as director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in 1995 was a military negotiator in a U.S. effort to end the war in Bosnia.

Clark’s public profile rose dramatically in 1997, when he was named Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. In that role, he commanded NATO forces during the war in Kosovo.

Clark retired from the Army in 2000.

Since entering the race for president late last year, Clark has surged to become one of the the top-tier candidates. Many of Clinton’s former top advisers and campaign workers have joined the Clark campaign.

Clark has drawn high praise and scorn from his former colleagues.

Gen. Alexander Haig, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, once called Clark "an officer of impeccable character."

However, retired Gen. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last year said Clark was relieved of his NATO command because of "integrity and character issues." Shelton has refused to elaborate.

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