Michael's Dispatches

America’s Angry Troops: Message from a Marine

125095-1000Image: DVIDS

13 April 2012

Marine, Army and Air Force sources continue to provide information about MEDEVAC failures in Afghanistan.  Top Army Generals say there are no complaints from the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC community in Afghanistan, but if this were so how is it that I end up with stacks of internal documents from dozens of sources?  In fact, top Army Generals have spent their credibility with the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC community.

In March, an Army Dustoff source revealed that a Marine died from electrocution in Helmand subsequent a slow MEDEVAC dispatch.  (There may have been two separate electrocutions on separate dates.)  Another Dustoff source brought up another Marine who died in Helmand within the last couple of weeks after a double amputation.  Sources say that slow dispatch occurred in both cases.

The highest ranking officers in the US Army continue to deceive Senators and Representatives about the ongoing MEDEVAC failures in Afghanistan.  There are telltale signs that reveal deceptive Generals.  If a General says or implies that Dustoff must wear Red Crosses due to Geneva Conventions, he is lying.  Full stop.

There is no provision within the Geneva Conventions that states MEDEVAC helicopters must wear Red Crosses.  It does not exist.  Army lawyers have stated in writing that the Red Cross may be removed.  The Generals are aware of this.  More disturbing is that multi-star Army Generals will deceive about something so easily checkable as Geneva Conventions, and so simple as Red Crosses.  What about the more complex aspects that are beyond our reach to check?

Many thousands of words have already been written about these MEDEVAC failures, including Red Air, Fool’s Gold and Troops’ Blood, Golden Seconds, Crusader Copters, and Mark of the Beast: Evil Symbols in Afghanistan.  A more complete list is here.

The Red Crosses are symptomatic of a larger problem with MEDEVAC/CASEVAC and the war in general.

Take this email, from a Marine pilot:

(Published with permission)

“Notable fact, Marine aircrews are currently forbidden from performing any manner of casevac or medevac unless approval has come from the Wing commander (Brig Gen) himself.  Having returned from a flying tour throughout Helmand last October, I can tell you they are very serious about this.  In 2009, I saw two pilots get sent home along with the ground controller who allowed the injured (Marine in this case) to be put on board the helicopter.

“It’s one of the first things drilled into your head as a Marine pilot showing up at Bastion/Leatherneck for your inbriefs: ‘you will not transport injured personnel (US, ISAF, Afghan, or otherwise) in your aircraft without CG approval’.  I've never heard of it being approved either.  Only those few folks who risked it without approval and found out the brass wasn’t joking.  Again in 2009, I actually watched a Captain tell Colonel to his face, ‘you’re wrong, Sir.  I know I did the right thing’.  He was sent home.

“This was a surprise to some who had flown in Al Anbar that were accustomed to Marine CH-46’s routinely flying casevac missions, for which they train as a fairly regular mission set/capability.  The CH-46 is not, however, involved in Afghanistan due to power/lift limitations and it’s clear that the thought process from the USMC side is, ‘better to let the dedicated casevac/medevac platforms (Dustoff, Pedro, MERT) handle that job and we’ll stick to hauling ass ’n trash.’

“I will tell you in confidence that I have flown directly over the scene of IED strikes with badly injured personnel while listening to the radio and hearing Dustoff calling for takeoff at Bastion over 25 mins away...wondering if I could make a difference.  Weird feeling.

“Most of the time we reassured ourselves that those aircraft had medics and life support equipment onboard while all we carry is a basic first aid kit for the crew and two litters.  ‘The injured would fare better with them’...but still it caused one to wonder.

“I am not criticizing the USMC leadership for this decision-making process as it’s true that our aircraft are already overtasked, and the three Assault Support platforms in Afghanistan (CH-53D/E, MV-22 OSPREY) do not carry any medical equipment/personnel on board as I mentioned.  It just makes the Army issue that much more intolerable to see it so poorly managed.  Please forgive me if I’m bringing up points you’re already familiar with, but I’ve seen ‘USMC’ thrown out several times in the past months with regard to the casevac/medevac debacle and thought I would add my perspective.”

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