In an interview with BBC Radio, former British military Captain James Blunt discussed the details of how, during the height of the NATO occupation of Kosovo, he was ordered by US General Wesley Clark to attack 200 Russian soldiers and “destroy” them.
“I was given the direct command to overpower the 200 or so Russians who were there. I was the lead officer, with my troop of men behind us… The soldiers directly behind me were from the Parachute Regiment so they’re obviously game for a fight,” Blunt recalled.
Blunt had been ordered to occupy the Pristina airport, but 200 Russian soldiers had arrived on site before him, so he radioed on for instructions. It was at this point that General Clark, then the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, ordered Blunt to “destroy” the Russian soldiers and take the airport for NATO.
It was at this point, Blunt noted, that General Sir Michael Jackson, then commander of the British military, chimed in and told Clark “I’m not going to have my soldiers start World War Three.” Blunt added that even in the absence of this he was willing to risk court-martial to avoid carrying out the attack.
The story of Gen. Clark ordering the attack was well known, as was his clash with Gen. Jackson. Previous reports however had suggested it was an order given simply to Jackson himself, and not relayed to the commander of the troops on the ground.
It is an interesting glimpse into a nearly forgotten war, and indeed one which had likely never come to light except for the fact that the relatively anonymous Captain Blunt has since gone on to considerable celebrity as a musician. But for this odd twist of fate, we may never have known just how close the Kosovo War of the Clinton Administration came to escalating into World War Three, and how comfortable the former Supreme Allied Commander was in ordering that.