Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

White Birds in a Red War

2 Comments

25 February 2012

An Army Dustoff pilot studying his art ran across some interesting passages.  The book DUST OFF: ARMY AEROMEDICAL EVACUATION IN VIETNAM mentions machine guns, missiles, Geneva Conventions, and painting MEDEVAC helicopters white so that the enemy could identify them.

Excerpts begin from page 85 (highlights are mine):

The return to single-ship missions demanded a few unorthodox procedures. International custom and the Geneva Conventions, which the United States considered itself bound to observe, dictated that an ambulance not carry arms or ammunition and not engage in combat. But in Vietnam the frequent enemy fire at air ambulances marked with red crosses made this policy unrealistic. Early in the war the crews started taking along .45-caliber pistols, M14 rifles, and sometimes M79 grenade launchers. The ground crews installed extra armor plating on the backs and sides of the pilots' seats.

Read more: White Birds in a Red War

Army Dustoff Medics Unprepared

34 Comments

“After more than 9 years of conflict and more than 40 AAR’s recommending the evolution of MEDEVAC to current civilian standards, no institutional change has been made. Continuing the legacy model has resulted and continues to result in documented sub-optimal outcomes and increased deaths among patients transported by helicopter in the current conflict.”

Robert L. Mabry, FS, EMT-P
Lieutenant Colonel, MC
JTTS Medical Director, Enroute Care

23 February 2012

The United States Army has failed with extraordinary dexterity while executing the helicopter MEDEVAC plan in Afghanistan.  On the surface, the Army advertisement campaign sells a story that their performance is exemplary and unprecedented in the history of war.  The press machine churns out sound bites, which are picked up in major media without the barest pretense of auditing.  For instance, senior Army officers saying and committing to writing that the Army has achieved a 92% success rate on MEDEVAC.  The Army peddles this message, and yet nobody says, “Show me the money.  Where do you get these figures?”  There is growing evidence that the 92% figure is hollow and fraudulent.

For instance, in an internal memorandum, the issue of poor or nonexistent tracking is repeatedly hammered:

Read more: Army Dustoff Medics Unprepared

A Hypothetical Interview General Martin Dempsey:

21 Comments

dempsey-and-campbell-1000

18 February 2012

General Martin Dempsey is the highest-ranking member of the US military.  He directly advises the President.  Lieutenant General John Campbell is Chief of Army Operations.  A bigwig.  Both men have publicly supported keeping Red Crosses on MEDEVAC helicopters that come under direct fire in Afghanistan.

Removing the Red Crosses does not force us to arm the helicopters.  But why not take the common-sense step of removing the Red Crosses so as not to alert the enemy that the helicopters are unarmed?  Many people want to know the answer.

In response to growing public concerns, Campbell has been interviewed on CBS and FOX, while Dempsey has written directly to Congressman Todd Akin.  Both Dempsey and Campbell have underlined the fallacy that it’s a good idea to alert the enemy that our MEDEVAC helicopters are unarmed.

And so, this morning, I made an imaginary phone call to General Dempsey and we conducted this hypothetical discussion:

Read more: A Hypothetical Interview General Martin Dempsey:

66 is not 59

16 Comments

17 February 2012

The Army campaign around the MEDEVAC continues to unravel.  They’ve tried just about everything short of assassination and witchcraft to freeze the growing stampede.  In the beginning, they claimed that my accounts of the failed MEDEVAC were completely wrong.  And then I produced the inconvenient high definition video and audio.

Undeterred, the Army has continued with a pattern of repetitive deception, knowing that if they repeat something enough it becomes “true.”  For instance, media accounts continue to parrot that Chazray Clark made it to the hospital one minute under the “Golden Hour” standard.  They say he reached the hospital in 59 minutes.  My video shows that it took about 66 minutes.

Read more: 66 is not 59

Department of Army Monitoring MEDEVAC Articles

3 Comments

15 February 2012

The following message was issued behind closed doors by the Department of Army (DA).  It pertains to media coverage of the MEDEVAC debacle.  There is no foul in monitoring the articles, but the inside glimpse is interesting.

TAMPA TRIBUNE COVERS MEDEVAC STORY WITH LOCAL ANGLE:

Howard Altman, Tampa Tribune, is doing a story about one local woman's interest in the MEDEVAC issue and how it got her connected with Michael Yon, also a Florida resident. MRD OIL Team provided context and quotes as available in current

RTQs. Referred questions on the reporter's questions on catastrophic injuries to MEDCOM.

---END DA email---

Acronyms:
DA = Department of the Army
MRD = Media Relations Division
OIL Team = Operations, Intelligence, Logistics (a department in MRD)

Tippity Top General attempts to Deceive Congressman (in writing)

23 Comments

14 February 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day.  It isn’t Valentine’s for those who will get hit with bullets or bombs today.  And it will happen.  So let’s get down to business.

The top officer in the US Military is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The Chairman is the principal military advisor to President Obama. 

Recently, Congressman Todd Akin from Missouri has taken up the cause of repairing the Army MEDEVAC failures.

Previously, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) provided Congressman Akin with a deceptive, error-filled letter whose content could have been written by Baghdad Bob for Ripley’s Believe it or Not!   You have to see it to believe it.

Congressman Akin continued to push, but he was stonewalled.  Mr. Akin was undeterred and responded by redoubling his efforts.  For example, he marshaled other concerned Members of Congress, and altogether 17 Members sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. 

The response by Mr. Akin and other Members of Congress is heartening.  This is how a democracy should work.  We citizens raised valid, important points.  It took some time to get their attention, but once we got beyond those hurdles, Members of Congress have taken on the cause by first searching for the truth.

Read more: Tippity Top General attempts to Deceive Congressman (in writing)

New Britches: Part II

9 Comments

image001-1000

13 February 2012

Our Soldiers’ pants have been falling apart.  In August 2011, I wrote about this from Afghanistan.  The news was picked up widely.  My dispatch shows photos of Soldiers with blown out trousers.

Combat is a fully engaging endeavor.  Many troops go without underwear to avoid rashes, and so when the crotches of their pants rip out, they are in the breeze.  Troops should not be distracted from killing Taliban while mosquitoes and briars poke and yank at privates’ privates.

Read more: New Britches: Part II

A Matter of Trust

10 Comments

monkeyandhandgrenade-1000

11 February 2012

Going unarmed into combat is a bad idea.  Going unarmed while wearing a Red Cross to alert the enemy that you are defenseless is dumb.  A commander who forces his troops to do this without good cause is at best incompetent.

US Army commanders do this every day in Afghanistan.  No other US branch or service, nor the British, wear the Red Cross on helicopters in combat.  Even our own US Army special operations forces do not use the Red Crosses on their medical birds.

Meanwhile, the US Army, specifically including Lieutenant General John Campbell, has been busy misleading Members of Congress and millions of Americans by communicating that our Dustoff MEDEVAC helicopters are required to wear Red Crosses in combat.  Many people are saying that LTG Campbell lied on FOX news.  I cannot defend him.  It is true.  Campbell misled CBS, FOX, and millions of Americans.

Read more: A Matter of Trust

Contempt of and for Congress?

15 Comments

US Military Forges Ahead with Deadly Deceptions

Dhaka, Bangladesh
05 February 2012

The US military is toying with American lawmakers.

Based on two key documents submitted to individual Members of Congress and the House Armed Services Committee, by both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and US Army, it’s clear that a concerted, organized attempt to deceive Congress is coming from DoD brass.  Repeated deceptions regarding MEDEVAC failures in Afghanistan continue to be perpetrated in writing by certain leadership elements within DoD.  Rebuttal to an egregious JCS letter is published here.

Subsequent the JCS missive to Congress, the Army also began circulating a statement to Senators and Representatives after CBS aired a story revealing some of the MEDEVAC shortcomings.

Read more: Contempt of and for Congress?

Crucifixion of Common Sense

3 Comments

03 February 2012

Nobody crucifies common sense like the US Army.  During my morning search for anything MEDEVAC related, several new stories emerged, including one with these illustrative quotes from a Soldier returning from Iraq:

“You have to land where you never had to land before,   surrounded by the enemy.”

In conventional warfare a vehicle or aircraft bearing a red cross is considered almost sacrosanct. Not so during the open, no holds barred atmosphere that permeated Iraq.

Read more: Crucifixion of Common Sense

The Army MEDEVAC Scandal: Report of Conspiracy

22 Comments

02 February 2012

An Army officer writes:

The Army is not resisting Dustoff policy change because our leadership honestly believes the current policy is superior, but rather because of AMEDD's [Army Medical Department] protectionist attitude toward "their" Dustoff MEDEVAC helicopters. I'm an active duty infantry officer, and I've been following the Dustoff issue since you first brought attention to it.  More importantly, I have a lot of contacts within the Medical Service branch.  While we have discussed this issue "around the watercooler" at work, Medical Service officers have been receiving briefings from senior members of their branch about a selectively edited account of SPC Clark's MEDEVAC mission, and what their message should be if anyone asks about it.

My contacts have highlighted that AMEDD's number one priority is protecting their "ownership" of the helicopters in question. They are concerned that removing the Red Cross from AMEDD's birds will result in those helicopters being assigned general purpose tasks, outside of the Medical Service Corp's control. In other words, their top priority is NOT providing the best possible care for our Soldiers and partners, but rather protecting their own fiefdoms. AMEDD is choosing to put Soldiers' lives in danger rather than chance losing "their" birds. Never mind that our sister services, special operations forces and allies are all able to field armed, dedicated CASEVAC/MEDEVAC helicopters! Somehow, despite all the evidence to the contrary, this is still the irrational argument AMEDD is sticking to, and directing its officers to spread. I'm concerned that in the dust-up over policy recommendations, comparisons with Pedro, and rebutting the JCS letter that we may be losing sight of the real obstacle in our path to reform. Sincere thanks for all you do, and keep up the fire!

Important Letter from Gold Star Mother

22 Comments

31 January 2012

A Gold Star Mother is one who lost a child in service of the United States.  Ms. Keyko Clark-Davis is a recent Gold Star Mother.  I was present when her son Chazray was mortally wounded.  We have communicated many times.  Chazray’s mother is strong and inspirational.  She sends this letter in hopes that other Americans will take a few minutes to absorb her message.

Read more: Important Letter from Gold Star Mother

13 Military Pilots Rebuke the Joint Chiefs of Staff

29 Comments

image001An overview of harmful Army medical evacuation practices not endorsed by other service branches, and a response to official arguments defending this policy provided by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).

30 January 2012

Introduction

Michael Yon is a combat writer, and a former member of the US Army Special Forces.  The New York Times noted in 2008 that he’d spent more time embedded with combat units than any other journalist in Iraq, and the reporting on his blog won the Weblog Award in 2005, 2007, and 2008.  It is probable that he has also spent more time with combat troops in Afghanistan than any writer, photographer, or journalist of any sort.  He is widely respected inside the military and beyond for the quality of his journalism, and his pursuit of the truth alongside US and allied combat personnel in the most dangerous theaters of operation.

On 18 September 2011, Mr. Yon accompanied an element of the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division, the 4-4 Cav, on a nighttime combat operation in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.  During this mission the unit was attacked with an Improvised Explosive Device, deafening one soldier, and amputating both legs and one arm of a second—Specialist Chazray Clark.  Specialist Clark was conscious and communicating up until the time he was evacuated.

US and allied forces have two primary helicopter medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) assets in Kandahar: US Army “Dustoff” flights, and US Air Force “Pedro” flights.  Unlike Army Dustoff flights, the Pedro flights—as well as British, Dutch, US Marines, Navy, and US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) medical flights—do not bear the Red Cross.  The core reasons for this difference involve rapid reaction and maximum flexibility with limited air assets.

Read more: 13 Military Pilots Rebuke the Joint Chiefs of Staff

British Officer Slams US Army on Growing MEDEVAC Debacle

20 Comments

28 January 2012

While reading traffic in a closed forum between current and former military officers, I stumbled across this message from a British officer.  I’ve known him since the Iraq days, and he’s also served in Afghanistan.  He’s an honest and very smart officer, and so I pay close attention to him.  With his permission, I reprint:

Message from British officer

I've been following Michael's work for years and I watched that painful video some while ago.

Read more: British Officer Slams US Army on Growing MEDEVAC Debacle

Another Dustoff Pilot says Delays Costing Lives

13 Comments

(The following letter appeared on the Army Times website.)

DEADLY DELAYS


“What the hell happened to Medevac, sir?”

That was a question an angry sergeant asked me as I was eating chow last February at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. I didn’t understand the question or the anger in his voice at the time, but I do now and would like to try to offer an explanation.

In the past, medical evacuation units reported to a medical command. These Medevac units had aviation assets, namely Black Hawk helicopters, but at the end of the day, Medical Service Corps officers were in charge. Recently, the Medevac units were realigned to fall under an aviation command as a part of the new General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB).

My unit, the 571st Medical Company (AA) became C Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, and our new command decided to implement new Medevac procedures. Ultimately, it was decided that Medevac aircraft would require gunship support for all off-FOB missions even if the landing zone was reported secure.

Read more: Another Dustoff Pilot says Delays Costing Lives

MEDEVAC Links

8 Comments

27 January 2012

The MEDEVAC issue continues to grow.  There have been many articles and it's becoming difficult to keep up.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff is preparing something for Congress.  My guess based on conversations is that JCS will try deflection and will not solve the issue.  SecDef has done nothing, to my knowledge.  And so this is set to become an election issue.

This list below is not comprehensive but can be a helpful resource.

Please listen to my interview with Dennis Miller.

LINKS
Op-eds by James Simpson

American Thinker
http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/01/incomprehensibly_stupid_army_regulation_killing_americans_in_afghanistan.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/no_sex_many_lies_one_videotape_and_a_soldiers_unnecessary_death.html

Breitbart Big Peace
http://bigpeace.com/jmsimpson/2012/01/09/incomprehensibly-stupid-army-regulation-killing-americans-in-afghanistan/

Examiner.com—D.C. Examiner
http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-washington-dc/incomprehensibly-stupid-army-regulation-killing-americans-afghanistan?cid=PROD-redesign-right-next

Washington Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/16/bureaucracy-killing-us-troops-in-afghanistan/

http://times247.com/articles/army-s-medevac-chopper-policy-in-need-of-revision

Read more: MEDEVAC Links

Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilot

40 Comments

26 January 2012

I am a Dustoff pilot (Instructor pilot) with over 1000 hours of combat time, and over 300+ combat medevac missions under my belt.  In 2004 (Iraq) we flew single ship, responding to thousands of medevac 9-line calls.  Not one helo shot down, but we sure got shot at a lot.  On a few occasions, we had to ask armed helos, who were out on missions, to divert and escort us into some hot areas.  On a few other occasions, we had the Air Force Pedros request to go along with us on missions. We responded quickly and efficiently.  When we got the call, we went.

When there were multiple casualties, we as crews made the call to launch more than one medevac bird to accommodate the number of patients.  No bureaucracy on launch authority or escorts.

Now, all medevac calls must go through channels, must be approved by commanders at battalion level or higher, must be escorted etc etc. This is what slows us down.

Some facts as I see it:

Read more: Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilot

A Young Iranian Woman Writes

25 Comments

25 January 2012

A young Iranian woman has written to me off and on for a couple of years.  Yesterday she sent a note.

I responded in part with a few questions:

What do young Iranians think about our government and about the Iranian government?  Also, do you think there will be war?

Read more: A Young Iranian Woman Writes

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.

supp

supp

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:

189

You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins