"It was one of my darkest moments of the war because here was my own service, the United States Army, which had spent 20 years, something like $18 billion developing the Apaches, and resisting their use in combat," recalled Clark.
Worried the helicopters would be shot down, the Joint Chiefs of Staff reluctantly put the Apaches into Albania, next door to Kosovo, but never allowed Clark to send them into combat.
"They were flying along the border. They could actually see the Serb forces sitting inside Kosovo; they could have fired without even going into Kosovo, and I couldn't get permission," said Clark.
As Clark tells it in the book he has written about the war, that was one of several instances in which his own government failed to back him up.
"I couldn't understand it. And denying a commander in chief in the field the resources that the commander feels he needs to win," Clark said.
To be sure he would win, Clark needed a plan for sending in ground troops to finish what the bombing had started.
"Of course, when it got to NATO, all the nations said, 'My god! Why, we can't have this. We don't want to do this'," said Clark.
"Solana calls back in and says, 'I've spoken to Cohen. He does not want you to come. He says you're too busy or something like this'," recalled Clark.
When Clark showed up anyway, the Secretary of Defense told him in no uncertain terms not to bring up a ground invasion. Clarke recalls he was told, "Tis summit is about the air campaign and that's all it's about. We better do our best to make it succeed or we'll both be writing our resumes."
The air campaign finally did succeed and Milosevic pulled his troops out of Kosovo, but Clark ended up writing his resume anyway. He got the news from Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Shelton.
Clark recalls he said, "I just want to tell you that the secretary's made the decision you're going to be coming out of command early."
No one ever said it, but Clark believes he was fired for having pushed the Pentagon too hard.
Asked if there was any doubt in his mind he was being sacked, Clark said, "Well, clearly, there were some people who, who probably wanted to take a pound of flesh."
Everybody from the president on down put the best face possible on it, presenting Clark with the Medal of Freedom for a mission accomplished, but that didn't change the fact that accomplishing the mission had cost him his job.
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