Clancy's fiction nears truth in gulf war WAR IN THE GULF

January 21, 1991|By Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- Others may have been surprised that America's high-tech weaponry worked so well in the opening days of Operation Desert Storm.

But not Tom Clancy.

Several Pentagon generals interviewed on television have described the first three days of the war as a Tom Clancy novel pTC brought to life.

Author of such best-selling techno-thrillers as "The Hunt for Red October" and "Red Storm Rising," in which U.S. weapons perform almost flawlessly, Mr. Clancy said he is not at all surprised at the way events have been going in the Middle East.

"Of course these weapons work," he said during a telephone interview from his home in Southern Maryland. "Why do you think we've been spending all this money?"

Mr. Clancy lays claim to one of the tactical innovations of the war.

"In 'Red Storm Rising' I described firing Tomahawk missiles from submarines to take out airfields," he said. Before the novel was published, he said, he described his plan to a friend, a Navy captain, who wrote a technical paper proposing the tactic.

Mr. Clancy has made himself an expert on modern weaponry and frequently lectures to military audiences. He said the notion that such weapons would break down during an actual war is a myth perpetuated "by the '60 Minutes' crowd."

Mr. Clancy said he deliberately underestimated the performance of U.S. weapons in his novels. In reality, he said, such weapons as the F117A "stealth" fighter have performed better than he predicted.

"What's the surprise? If you buy a new car and go out and get in, buckle up the seat belts and turn the key in the slot, you expect it to run."

The novelist also expects few surprises from a land battle with Iraq, if and when one comes. "Based on conversations I've had with people in the Army, it's going to get ugly." But he means ugly for Iraq.

Mr. Clancy said he is hard at work on a new novel, set in the Middle East but not involving current events.

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