by Elizabeth Kreft
Air National Guard Readiness Center
1/4/2016 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Air
Force Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke, director of the Air National Guard
and a strong advocate of the Total Force Continuum as well as the State
Partnership Program, retired Dec. 18, after more than 34 years of
During the ceremony at the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Joint
Base Andrews, Md., former Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael
Mosley, led the ceremony and complimented his friend and fellow Airman.
"You are in the lineage of American Airmen...that flew in the Lafayette
Escadrille, that flew with Mitchell ... that flew with Chennault and the
Flying Tigers, and that flew with the Tuskegee Airmen up the Italian
peninsula into southern Germany," said Mosley. "You've left that legacy
with [us] all... you're a pro and your family made this possible."
As the Air National Guard Director, Clarke was responsible for
formulating, developing and coordinating all policies, plans, and
programs affecting the more than 105,700 Guard members and civilians in
more than 89 flying wings and 175 geographically separated units across
213 locations throughout the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto
Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.
The broad swath of responsibility was a burden General Clarke took on
with great appreciation. When he testified before Congress earlier in
2015, Clarke noted the Air Guard supports combatant commanders around
the globe, and continues to be a "proven choice" for the war-fighting
operations they support.
"We have ... consistently deployed members of the Air National Guard,"
Clarke said. "In fact, over 2,000 are deployed today across the globe
doing a variety of operations."
During his tenure, he also pushed for continued security cooperation.
"We have bilateral relationships that don't even exist inside the State
Partnership Program that we support," he told Congress. "An example of
that would be what we do for the air forces of Iraq -- we're doing the
training for the C-130J's ... and the F-16 foreign training is all done
at Tucson [Arizona] by the Air National Guard."
Members of General Clarke's immediate staff said one of the most
important legacies the director would want to be remembered by is his
commitment to the Total Force Continuum concept and his "Ready Airmen"
To accomplish these goals, General Clarke worked closely with Secretary
of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James and the Air Force Chief of Staff,
General Mark Welsh. During his retirement speech General Clarke thanked
them both; "No component of any service, at any time in history, has had
a better friend as a service secretary than Debbie James ... and you
two are tremendous advocates of the Total Force."
Clarke began his Air Force career in 1981 when he was named a
distinguished graduate of the University of Georgia ROTC program. He
joined the Alabama Air National Guard in 1991, and went on to serve in
multiple joint positions, including the Senior Defense Official and
Defense Attaché to Turkey and NORAD.
As he spoke about the high points of his career, Clarke recalled a few poignant moments in the air and on the ground.
"I always wanted to be a fighter pilot, I just wasn't sure someone would
give me the chance," he said. "I can vividly recall flying at 100 feet
over the swamps of Carolina in brand new A-10s, and squeezing the
trigger on a 30mm cannon for the first time. And I can still play scenes
in my head of avoiding anti-aircraft artillery over Iraq in F-16s."
The command pilot, who accumulated 4000 hours in various aircraft
including the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the C-26
Metroliner, said he stayed in the service for multiple decades because
he "loved the people of the Air Force and the Air National Guard."
"The Air Force took me places I would have never had the opportunity to
go otherwise," he said. "Not all the memories have been good ones ...
I've touched the flag-draped caskets at Bagram, and I've been at Dover
to watch them come home. However, the good memories outnumber the bad
... and (I have) too many blessing to count."
General Mosley took time during his speech to share a powerful tale that
he said highlights "the leadership and strength of the entire Clarke
"This story begins in the spring of 2002; I was told to put together
what would be the decisive strike at the regime which would be the air
campaign (in Iraq)," Mosley said. "I asked Sid to join us in this ...
because he and I have had several experiences through weapons school and
a variety of other places, and I trusted him."
He said then-Colonel Clarke led and effort to build a mock up of the
Iraq western front at Nellis Air Force Base ranges to meet the
President's intent for the crucial mission.
"The SECDEF and President were happy with Sid's plan, which says a lot,"
Mosley said, "And then I told him he was going to command the effort.
It was not a leap of faith for me. I knew, and Sid knew what was at
He explained that Clarke volunteered to deploy to finish the job, and
set up a "beautifully-executed piece of a very complicated campaign,"
which included flights across the Haditha dam and supporting special
"The lives you've touched and the lives you've saved, some of them don't
even know you saved -- some of them don't even know you saved them,"
Mosley told Clarke, "And some of them, as we enter the holidays and the
Christmas season, in Australia and in the UK, some of those folks are
with their families and their kids and their grandkids today because of
you. And that's kind of a big deal."
In total more than 90 general officers, as well as hundreds of former
coworkers and friends, attended the ceremony to show their gratitude for
General Clarke's years of leadership and mentorship.
"He is an insightful, thoughtful and very dynamic leader," General
Taheri, ANG Readiness Center Commander, said of General Clarke. "He's
often quiet, and you wouldn't know it but the wheels are always turning,
so when he does speak, he speaks with the kind of measured thoughts
that are always one step ahead of where I wish I could have been before I
started talking to him."
General Clarke's replacement has yet to be named; the new director will
be recommended by the Secretary of the Air Force and approved by
Congress. Until that person is selected, Major General Brian Neal
previously appointed as the deputy director of the Air National Guard,
will serve as the acting Air National Guard Director.