Michael's Dispatches

Armed Medics in Bloody Combat

l-ed-wooden-and-stauffer-1000Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan (2011)

25 September 2012

Much controversy continues to swirl around the fact that our “Dustoff” MEDEVAC helicopters fly unarmed into combat.  They wear the Red Crosses, alerting the enemy that they are unarmed.  Note that this Afghan medic is armed, and wearing a Red Cross and Red Crescent.

Please see these links on the issue:

Medevac Links


+1 # Didn't think of it before...Rusty Shackleford 2012-09-25 14:57
...but our medics were the most heavily armed when we rolled outside the wire. In addition to their M-4, they also had an M9 in case they needed to leave the rifle in the vehicle to treat a patient. I guess with all the other sharp stuff they carried in their packs, they were the most dangerous person with us. :)
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+1 # RE: Armed Medics in Bloody CombatDang 2012-09-25 16:07
The term "armed" is slightly mis-understood. As I understand it, medics and crews are allowed to carry side arms and rifles for protection of their patients. "armed" as is used in the context of "thou shalt not be armed" refers to "Offensive weapons" - or "Crew served weapons" - Medics are allowed to carry weapons. (I know, any weapon used to kill somebody could be termed "offensive" by some.) However, that's the restrictions I've understood for the last 40+ years - hence, no machine guns on DUSTOFF Aircraft (not since 1st Cav Medevac in Vietnam)
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+2 # RE: Armed Medics in Bloody CombatHeath 2012-09-25 16:26
Hypocritical of the Red Crescent. Time to arm our medic helicopters with machine guns for good. As this war on terror goes on, the islamic enemy is not going to abide by the Geneva. That may have been a good concept in WW II but the times are changing and we are dealing with an enemy worse than Hitler & Stalin and Tojo. We need to take the concept of the Air Wolf ( like i said in another post about flying Cobras as medic helicopters ) the Air Wolf off the drawing board and make heavily armed medic helicopters a reality especially when we go to war helping the Israelis win the war on terror at Meggido.
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+2 # RE: Armed Medics in Bloody CombatHeath 2012-09-25 16:37
I can see it right now ... Questioning by news reporter

" The Hezoballah terrorists struck an Israeli Air Force helicopter flying medic casualties from the battlefield carnage yesterday and our helicopters were not armed to the teeth. Why ? "

That would not sit very well with the Red Star of David and the Israeli public.

It should not sit very well with the American Red Cross or the American public that our helicopters of all the military branches are not armed to the teeth.

Islamic terrorists did not care on Sept. 11th, 2001 and the Islamic terrorists are not going to care if a Jewish medic helicopter or a Christian medic helicopter got shot down by cigarette smoking RPG toting Hezoballah terrorists or Tablian terrorists.
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# No crosses & guns = less MEDEVACAndrew 2012-09-25 17:55
Go ahead, cover the red crosses and add door guns. Here is what you would get:
1) The Aviation Commanders would re-task 6-7 UH-60s per MEDEVAC company (they currently have 15 aircraft per) to execute ash and trash ring routes, VIP flights, and Air Assault or QRF support.
2) This would reduce the number of available MEDEVACs who are stationed close to the fight at remote FOBs aligned with FSTs thus requiring MEDEVACs to come from bases further away (ala Pedro).
3) Nothing would change in the decision process allowing the now armed MEDEVAC to enter a medium to high risk area without escort because none of the Army Aviation assets are allowed to do that, guns or not.
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+1 # RE: No crosses & guns = less MEDEVACDang 2012-09-25 19:13
Precisely!!!! It would be Stillwell and Kelly all over again.
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# HeathTim Johnson 2012-09-25 18:48
Cigarette smokers ?
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+1 # RE: Armed Medics in Bloody CombatHeath 2012-09-25 19:51
@ Tim Johnson, was thinking of a tv scene in the movie " Navy Seals " where a terrorist is dangling a cigarette while arming a RPG on the rooftop of Beirut. That scene is what came to my mind,

@ Andrew, there has to be some way to mow down terrorists and bring in medic helicopters. How about a combo of armed drones & helicopter gunships. These are very bad men that do not think about Geneva.

In the movie " Green Berets " with John Wayne, AC-130 gunships with the wheeling machine gun mowed down Vietcong. That is exactly what our medic helicopters need is superior firepower that mericlessly mows down al Qaeda & Tablian terrorists with no mercy and saves the good guy's lives.

By the time, America gets to Israel we should have a helicopter platform that covers all of these issues and much more. The terrorists of Fatah Hamas & Hezoballah needs to be mowed down with no mercy if they are going to try and attack our medic helicopters
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# retired USARWinslow P. Kelpfroth 2012-09-25 19:56
No surprise to me. As a medic with 1/51 Infantry, 72-75, I carried either a M1911 or M16 routinely.
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+2 # Doc BobBob Meaders 2012-09-25 20:13
Maybe if we drop leaflets apologizing for offending Muslims with the 'crusader cross' before going in, they'd leave us alone...bet Obama is willing do that for us.
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# Former Combat MedicGerry Kissell 2012-09-25 21:36
I served between 1990 and 1998, and I was always armed as a combat medic.
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+1 # Great observation and base of experienceAndrew 2012-09-26 16:52
@Heath – Thanks for passing on that wealth of insight which you have gathered over the years of watching bad war movies. It really trumps my experience with 34 months over three combat deployments as a helicopter pilot, two of which were as an Army Medevac pilot in Afghanistan. The next time I’m performing combat maneuvers in the inbound to the red smoke for a U.S. CAT-A patient in an effort to keep holes out of my aircraft, I’ll heed your advice and think back to the movie Saving Private Ryan and use a mirror and chewing gum to check my six. No need for those other three guys in the aircraft who help me get to the ground clean side and big fan up.

On second thought, I think I would rather my back seaters get their heads outside the aircraft to check my tail and ensure I don’t ball it up in a ditch, hit wires, or help me see through the dust rather than try some low angle shooting at high speeds as they destroy the world around them.
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# RE: Armed Medics in Bloody CombatHeath 2012-09-26 18:22
Actually Andrew I defer to the guys like you who are doing this for real and as an American citizen at home, I pray & hope the good guys win and always make sure the good guys have the upper hand at all times. Our church prays for the U.S. Troops and I am concerned our troops are fighting this war with one hand like the helicopter issue that has not changed since Vietnam. I believe there has to be a better way to take the fight to the enemy while minimizing our own losses. The helicopter was a great innovation and with the right tools in place, a military flying ambulance can continue to save lives while mowing down the enemy in the open field & behind tree-lines with everything from FLIR to wheeling machine guns like that seen in " Green Berets ". The U.S. Military I believe needs to start listening to the soldiers and the politicians need to leave some parts of the war to the generals and I believe in the generals getting feedback from the soldiers without costing the soldiers their rank or their lives etc. Michael Yon is trying to go to bat for you guys who are doing this job for real and I as part of the American people need to support the U.S. Troops and hold the politicians and generals accountable if security is lax or troops are getting killed needlessly etc. We can not continue to allow the medic helicopters to be attacked by the enemy. Something has to be done about this. There is a very good reason why Michael Yon is writing about this issue and raising awareness amongst the American people so that something good can come out of this mess. He is really going to bat for you guys. I think it is no different than in WW II, most Americans at home wanted to know how our troops are doing & how we can best help the U.S. Troops & hold our politicians & generals accountable when it is absolutely necessary.
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# RE: Armed Medics in Bloody CombatHeath 2012-09-26 19:59
One more thing, I don't know much about guns but it seems obvious to me that the wheeling machine gun scene in " Green Berets " could shoot farther than the AK-47's the Vietcong were using so basically the AK-47's can not reach the AC-130s with their wheeling machine gun. I think that could help you guys clear a hot landing infested with al Qaeda & Tablian terrorists. Up-armor your helicopters to stop small arms fire and things you could talk to Bell helicopter company & the ones that make Cobras and Blackhawks etc. Feedback is part of getting agile, better & faster helicopters to get medic causalities out of the hot battlefield as soon as possible. Having the enemy shoot at our medic helicopters is un-acceptable and something needs to be done about it just like the Hummers in Iraq were up-armored after much media attention by concerned soldiers & wartime journalists and the American people lighting up Washington DC switchboard with their concerns and look what happened. Good things started to happen for our U.S. Troops. That is where people like U.S. Army soldier and wartime journalist Michael Yon comes into the picture going to bat on behalf of the U.S. Troops & trying to inform the American people how we can best help the U.S. Troops.
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