Tom Clancy, General Chuck Horner return to Desert Storm
By Jamie Allen
(CNN) -- Long before NATO bombs started falling in the Balkans and controversy started rising from the smoke and flames, there was a popular war (at least from the U.S. perspective) taking place in the Middle East.
The Persian Gulf War, it has been said, was the culmination of two elements: the redemption from Vietnam's mistakes, and the prosperous use of Reagan-era military buildup. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his mission to control Kuwait (and a healthy portion of the world's oil supply) didn't stand a chance against the overwhelming U.S.-led allied forces.
The 1991 war -- called a "war" by historians, though the campaign lasted a shorter length of time than the current conflict in Yugoslavia -- is considered one of the most successful air missions in military history. Bombs seemingly always hit their target, and victory came quickly.
Now, that patriotic time is being remembered in the new nonfiction book by best-selling novelist Tom Clancy and the leader of the Desert Storm air offensive on Iraq, retired Gen. Chuck Horner.
"My vision for this book and the others in the series is to let people know what kind of commanders we have. You don't pick generals off park benches."
"Every Man a Tiger" (Putnam) is told from Horner's perspective, detailing the hows and whys of the invasion.
"I wanted to tell the story about air power, but I didn't want to lecture people," says Horner. "Let the story come out of the anecdotes. ... The other thing I wanted to do was create some romance, some passion about things that go on in the military. So it goes well beyond airplanes and bombs and strategy and national policy. It goes into things like families, into how wives kiss their husbands good-bye when they go off to war."
To do this, Horner enlisted the help of Clancy, one of the most commercially successful novelists of our time with best-sellers like "The Hunt for Red October" and "Clear and Present Danger."
For Clancy, this is his second nonfiction title in a series of four books on war commanders. The first, "Into the Storm," focused on armor and infantry Gen. Fred Franks, Jr.
Now, it's Horner's turn.
"My vision for this book and the others in the series is to let people know what kind of commanders we have," Clancy says. "You don't pick generals off park benches. ... They are experts at what they do and lot of thinking goes into it. And I want to get across to people the intellectual dimension of command, to let people know that it's hard to be a general. And the people we have with general stars on their shoulders are pretty smart and pretty good guys."
'That's what it's all about'
Clancy says it was an honor to work with Horner, a former fighter pilot in Vietnam who rose the ranks to general, but is still a fighter pilot at heart.
"The thing you have to understand about fighter pilots is they never quite grow past the stage of little boys buzzing past girls on their bicycles," says Clancy. "And (Horner), he did it for 38 years in the service of our country. And he did it with very expensive, real sexy fighter planes.
"Along the way he also learned one or two things about leadership and national security and what our country is all about and what we're trying to do in the world."
The title of the book is a nod to Horner's predecessors, the ones who trained him to fly in combat.
"The title came from the guys who flew in World War II and Korea who risked their lives and suffered so much to teach us young guys that were going to replace them how to become good in combat," Horner says. "We had a training program called 'Every Man a Tiger' where they trained you to feel that you could dominate air battle. Anybody who went up against you, you were going to kick their ass. That's what it's all about."
'The last major war on planet Earth'
But both Clancy and Horner want to make clear that this book is not an attempt to glorify war.
"That's the ultimate pornography," says Clancy. "There's nothing more pornographic than glorifying war."
But Clancy says this story deserves to be told, for readers today, and for historians of tomorrow. Despite the current situation in Yugoslavia, Clancy is not afraid to go out on a limb and predict that the Iraqi conflict could have lasting significance.
"I think it's going to be remembered as the last major war on planet Earth, if we're lucky, if we maintain our foreign policy properly," Clancy says. "It will be remembered as the last time major countries had to put people in the field and put them in harm's way. It may be the last of all human nature wars, which is a nice way to remember any kind of a war, as the last one."
"I pray Tom is right about that," Horner says.
NATO presses on with bombing campaign
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