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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Profile: General Wesley Clark
General Wesley Clark
General Wesley Clark has won numerous military honours
During his term as Nato Commander, Europe, General Wesley Clark gained a reputation as a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails career soldier.

He held a high-profile position during the 1999 Kosovo war.

His words at the beginning of Nato's bombing campaign set the tone for the alliance's tough line with President Milosevic.

"We're going to systematically and progressively attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately, unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community, we're going to destroy his forces and their facilities and support," he said.

But the campaign was not as swift and decisive as Nato had hoped and there were a series of mistakes, including the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

During the air strikes there were rifts between General Clark and the British commander General Sir Mike Jackson.

"I'm not going to start the Third World War for you," the British commander reportedly told General Clark during one heated exchange.

General Jackson overruled Gen Clark by refusing to send troops to stop Russian forces taking control of Pristina airport.

Nato bosses denied General Clark had been asked to leave his post early because of his handling of the Kosovo conflict. He stepped aside for administrative reasons, to make way for his successor General Joseph Ralston.

Glittering career

Like US President Bill Clinto, Gen Clark grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and went on to become a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University.

He gained a lot of experience of Yugoslav issues, having handled the military side of the Dayton negotiations that ended the three-year war in Bosnia in 1995. Unlike his predecessors in Nato's top job, he ordered the vigorous pursuit of suspected Bosnian war criminals. Several have been arrested by Nato snatch squads.

The 55-year-old Vietnam war veteran became the Supreme Allied Commander Europe in July 1997. He was also the supreme commander of US forces in Europe.

He graduated first in his class from the US Military Academy at West Point and then gained a master's degree in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. He is married with one son. In his military career he won numerous medals and citations including the Purple Heart.

In March 2000 he was given an honorary knighthood by the UK in recognition of his "boundless energy" during the bombing of Yugoslavia.

Before arriving at Nato headquarters in Belgium he was commander-in-chief of the US Southern Command based in Panama.

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See also:

23 Mar 00 | Europe
Kosovo 'requires patience'
16 Mar 00 | Europe
Nato's incomplete victory
28 Mar 00 | Europe
'Plot' to kill Nato chiefs
29 Jul 99 | Americas
Nato commander denies snub
28 Jul 99 | Americas
Nato commander to leave early
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