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Messages from Joint Chiefs of Staff

27 Comments

23 January 2012

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) provided a document to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) about MEDEVAC issues in Afghanistan.  The document was provided with no cover or signature page.  Congressman Todd Akin (MO-2), a senior HASC member, received that document.  A staffer for Mr. Akin passed the letter to me asking questions.

I publicly acknowledged receipt of the JCS letter before publishing it.  My acknowledgement prompted an email to me from the Public Affairs Officer for the Vice Chairman of the JCS.

Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Seiber (Public Affairs Officer to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) wrote to me, “Your citing of a JCS letter is inaccurate.  Please correct/update your website accordingly.  Background information is below:"  I immediately contacted Congressman Akin’s office.  A staffer again confirmed that this document came from JCS to HASC.  The denial by JCS itched for explanation.  JCS then backtracked, saying it had provided the letter to HASC, and “We don't necessarily refute what is in the document itself, it's just a matter that it isn't a Joint Staff document.”

Read more: Messages from Joint Chiefs of Staff

Time to Leave Afghanistan

78 Comments

21 January 2012

This war is going to turn out badly. We are wasting lives and resources while the United States decays and other threats emerge.  We led the horse to water.

Importantly, there is no value in pretending that Pakistan is an ally. We should wish the best of luck to the Afghans, and the many peaceful Pakistanis, and accelerate our withdrawal of our main battle force. The US never has been serious about Afghanistan. Under General Petraeus we were starting to gain ground, but the current trajectory will land us in the mud.

The enemies will never beat us in Afghanistan.  Force on force, the Taliban are weak by comparison.  Yet this is their home.  There is only so much we can do at this extreme cost for the many good Afghan people.  We must reduce our main effort and concentrate on other matters.  Time to come home.

Sincerely,

Michael Yon

JCS: Curiouser and Curiouser

1 Comment

19 January 2012

I published a letter that I received from Congressman Todd Akin's office.  Mr. Akin is on the House Armed Services Committee.  According to Mr. Akin's office, HASC received the letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  After I published the letter, I read an email to me from a Public Affairs Officer at JCS saying JCS didn't author the letter.

Curiouser and Curiouser.

And so just now I contacted a staffer at Congressman Akin's office who responds:

Read more: JCS: Curiouser and Curiouser

Joint Chiefs of Staff: Bogus Report to Congress

32 Comments

19 January 2012

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a bogus letter on MEDEVAC to the House Armed Services Committee.  The JCS letter is so filled with errors and deceptions that it has taken more than a week for me to respond.  The JCS directly refutes my work on MEDEVAC.

Thirteen pilots have read my draft response.  Ten of those pilots are Pedro or Dustoff.  (Five each.)  The remaining three have or do fly MEDEVAC escort in Afghanistan.  Twelve are active duty and one is retired.  All have served in Afghanistan or are there.  Some also served in Iraq.  Together they have done about 25 combat tours.

Details are crucial.   Other veterans, and civilians, are providing feedback to keep my response to the JCS accurate.  My response should be ready by Monday.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense, Senators, and Representatives are cautioned to avoid embarrassment by not taking the JCS letter at face value.

Representative Todd Akin (MO-2) has rejected the JCS letter and directly contacted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The JCS letter to the HASC:

JointStaffYon-1

Read more: Joint Chiefs of Staff: Bogus Report to Congress

Marine Urination Video: Some Thoughts

37 Comments

18 January 2012

The bad judgment exercised by a handful of Marines should be treated like an ND: a Negligent Discharge.  In the US military, if you “accidentally” pull the trigger and launch an unplanned bullet downrange, you should not even bother trying to explain away the “accident.”  If that bullet kills someone, it’s called Negligent Homicide.  The bullet did not fire accidentally; it was fired negligently.  Bottom line.

This should be treated like a negligent discharge of the penis, and of the video camera, and then of common sense.  What a dumb thing to do.   And super dumb to video tape it.  And ultra-dumb to then let the video make it to the Internet.

Read more: Marine Urination Video: Some Thoughts

Danger For Senators and Representatives

19 Comments

Army Deceptions May Cause Embarrassment

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17 January 2012

The Army has been deceiving members of Congress about MEDEVAC issues in Afghanistan.  This poses a danger for civilian leadership who may run with the Army information, expecting accuracy in detail and in spirit, only to be ridiculed later.

In Afghanistan, I first brought up the MEDEVAC issue at Task Force Spartan in Zhari District, but this was above their level.  There was excellent leadership at TF Spartan, yet nothing to push because there was little they could do.

Next, Regional Command South in Kandahar addressed the issue but did nothing.

Next, the IJC (combatant command in Kabul) did nothing.  The issue was taken up by ISAF HQ in Kabul, who did nothing. (When I write, “nothing,” it means they wrote false accounts of the events and demanded that I publish them.  I refused.)

Read more: Danger For Senators and Representatives

AfCats - Wild Cats of Afghanistan

18 Comments

Jungle-Cat-1-1000

12 January 2012

First came the rumors.  Innumerable US Soldiers claimed to have seen large cats in Kandahar Province.  More than once I saw Afghan Soldiers laugh it off, saying our folks were seeing apparitions.  The Afghans would say, yes, there can be big cats in the mountains, but not here.

But time after time, men said they saw the cats with night vision gear, thermals, or in broad daylight.  Some who made these claims were country boys who grew up hunting, and so their words carried particular weight.  They said the cats did not just come and vanish quickly, but our men often watched the cats for minutes at a time.  They said the cats could even jump over the large Afghan walls.

Read more: AfCats - Wild Cats of Afghanistan

Experienced Camera Gear for Sale

3 Comments

11 January 2012

Many folks have asked me about selling camera gear.  I’m starting to offload some glass.  These four Canon lenses have all been used downrange either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both, and probably in many other countries.  This gear is in great condition.  Many of my published photos were made through this glass.

The four lenses are on eBay and bidding starts at 50% off new price.

Read more: Experienced Camera Gear for Sale

MEDEVAC/CASEVAC Links

6 Comments

20070501 XY2I0425-1000Letter from home

10 January 2011

Increasing progress is being made on the Army helicopter MEDEVAC problems.  Media attention has been building and appears that it will soon break big.  Communications are coming in spontaneously from key places.  Support for improvement is snowballing.

Pilots and crews continue to help behind the scenes but the active duty folks cannot speak publicly due to career concerns.  Without their help and encouragement, we would not have made it this far.  There is more going on than I can now track.

Read more: MEDEVAC/CASEVAC Links

Take Me to Your Leader (If you have one)

17 Comments

Dustoff-IMG 8019-1000a

09 January 2012

Jordan Schneider has done an excellent job helping to push the MEDEVAC Red Cross issue.  Her energy seems bottomless.  It was Jordan the active citizen who contacted Senator Charles Grassley, who quickly inquired to the Secretary of the Army, who passed the buck to CENTCOM.

Yet this is not per se a CENTCOM issue; this is an Army-wide policy failure.  However, CENTCOM could fix the issue at least in Afghanistan.

Read more: Take Me to Your Leader (If you have one)

Passing the MEDEVAC Buck

46 Comments

03 January 2012
Los Angeles, California

Our Army medical evacuation helicopters in Afghanistan frequently come under fire.  These helicopters are clearly marked with the Red Cross on a white background, signaling to the enemy that they are unarmed.  The Red Cross is also a symbol from the Crusades.  A poster found in a village listed crosses as symbols to be destroyed.

Unarmed medical helicopters lead to delays in medical evacuations due to the fact that Army medical helicopters need armed helicopter escorts.  Also they often will not land on very hot landing zones, causing yet more delays.  Air Force rescue helicopters do not wear Red Crosses and are heavily armed, and so can get in more quickly and safely.

Read more: Passing the MEDEVAC Buck

DELTA Force Commander (former) on DUSTOFF MEDEVAC

13 Comments

30 December 2011
Los Angeles, California

Former Delta Force Commander “Dalton Fury” makes a very informed opinion on the MEDEVAC issue.  Delta is the special forces of our special forces.  Opinions from this community carry significant weight.

(This was published in Soldier of Fortune online.  I’ve highlighted certain portions.)

BLEEDING OUT FOR POLITICS
By SOF Editor on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 5:26pm

History has been made in Iraq and Afghanistan, and unless you are a security contractor or special ops troop, your long months away from home and your family are quickly coming to an end. Our servicemen and women have fought an extraordinary fight against impossible odds and reestablished America’s military prowess around the world.

We’ve learned a great deal in the last 10 years of war, like the immediate power of miscommunication from the battlefield, or the importance of committing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) drone aircraft to an area before going in blind.

Read more: DELTA Force Commander (former) on DUSTOFF MEDEVAC

Mexico: A Very Interesting Talk by General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey

28 Comments

28 December 2011

Before Christmas, I met with General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey in Virginia.  We talked for about 2.5 hours, mostly about Mexico.

My meetings with General McCaffrey have not been random.  Among many other key experiences, he is a former “drug czar” with a deep military background.  He was awarded three Purple Hearts and his son is currently in Afghanistan.  Great Americans.

After that excellent meeting, I spent about two hours with David Martin at CBS.  We did an on-camera interview about the loss of Chazray Clark, and Army Dustoff issues.  Mr. Martin was well prepared.  After the taping, we went through the unedited video of the attack that took Chazray Clark on 18 September.  The CBS piece should run sometime just after New Year’s.  (Date to be announced.)

I may still return to Afghanistan in late January, but it looks like that is off.  Various invitations have come in from the Air Force, Marines and even the Army, but some Army officers are very angry about my Dustoff coverage.  They issued what amounts to an all-points bulletin for me in Afghanistan and have said no embed will be granted.

Read more: Mexico: A Very Interesting Talk by General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey

Medical Evacuation

2 Comments

This manual contains explanations of Geneva Conventions as pertains to MEDEVAC:

FM4 02X2-1

Please click here to view the entire manual.

Department of Defense Statement Regarding Investigation Results into Pakistan Cross-Border Incident

15 Comments

12/22/2011 03:20 AM CST

IMMEDIATE RELEASE     No. 1036-11

December 22, 2011

                 The investigation into the 25-26 November engagement between U.S. and Pakistani military forces across the border has been completed.  The findings and conclusions were forwarded to the Department through the chain of command.  The results have also been shared with the Pakistani and Afghan governments, as well as key NATO leadership.

                The investigating officer found that U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon.  He also found that there was no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials.  

Read more: Department of Defense Statement Regarding Investigation Results into Pakistan Cross-Border Incident

Powerful Statement from the Marines

27 Comments

16 December 2011

This powerful statement comes from the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  I like it.

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Statement from the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos

The series of McClatchy news articles have cast doubt on the decision to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Sergeant Dakota Meyer.  I stand firmly behind the process and the decision to award the Medal of Honor to Sgt Meyer.

The Medal of Honor is our nation's highest award for bravery.  Fittingly, it involves the most demanding of investigations and multiple levels of review.  This process, followed scrupulously in this and other cases, is designed to confirm with as much certainty as possible that the level of bravery and self sacrifice displayed is worthy of this singular honor.  Selflessness of this caliber cannot be measured under ordinary circumstances, because the ordinary does not evoke the extraordinary.  Rather, the Medal of Honor requires that a display of heroism take place under the most difficult circumstances our service members can face.  With life and death hanging in the balance, brave warriors, like Sgt Meyer and those who have gone before him, override their natural, instinctive impulses of self preservation and risk their lives to save others.  Our highest honors are reserved for those who perform such deeds in combat while facing the enemy and braving his fire.

Read more: Powerful Statement from the Marines

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