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.

Michael makes a perfectly valid, arguably indisputable point that, in some circumstances, US Army MEDEVAC policy can delay the movement of casualties to hospital. The fact that the Golden Hour can still be met in most cases is immaterial. If we could make it work, we'd want a Platinum 30 Minutes as we all know that a few minutes can make the difference between life and death. Accordingly, there should be a continuous effort to shave extra minutes off of the time it takes to reach the wounded and what is proposed by Michael will often do just that.

The arguments presented by the US Army for why a change is not necessary are unconvincing, in fact in parts they seem somewhat fictive. I just hope there aren't people out there telling their boss what they think he wants to hear when they know differently in their hearts.

Therefore - and as a British Army officer I do think carefully about criticizing an organization I admire in many ways - my opinion is that there should be a quick meal of humble pie at the upper levels of the US Army and a change to match the USAF and RAF methods which do not mark MEDEVAC aircraft and do arm them. Saying "We were wrong" need bring no shame, it would be a fine example of leadership that would be respected within the Army itself and wider - and it'll likely save a few lives.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Heywood Jablomi · 6 years ago
    This officer said it all.

    He makes the Joint Chiefs look more corrupt than ever.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John-Capt in ANG · 6 years ago
    Although he articulated it bit further, I think the British officer is clearly pointing out the "elephant in the room," in a precise way. "Platinum 30 minutes," is precisely right. Hell, if it's practical, there's no reason a Titanium Blend 15 minutes shouldn't be hit when possible. (Yes, I'm being a bit facitious). It's one of those really odd benchmarks, you have to wonder. The original justification was that research showed a marked increase in survivability at 60 minutes, but really? 60? It wasn't 61.20 or 58.254? 60 was probably, "close enough for govies," and easy to remember and now we have this silly goal that's beatable. You'll note that there hasn't been, at least from what I've read, anything saying, "We could NOT beat the 60 minutes, and still meet LoAC, Geneva, etc while arming the evac helicopters."
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ross Jones · 6 years ago
    I concur. Succinctly put.
    (British Army officer '76 -'83)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barry Sheridan · 6 years ago
    It should not be necessary for an officer of the British forces to point out to our closest ally the mistaken policy being pursued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His comment simply reinforces the notion that what is going on here owes more to a desire to avoid being seen to have long taken the wrong stance. In essence what this implies is a lack of that all important human quality, the ability to stand up and openly admit that one is mistaken. For those who might crow about this, let us remind ourselves that this failing is unfortunately known to almost all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Delta363 · 6 years ago
    Couldn't have said it better myself.
    Let's pray the Army mans up sooner rather than later.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Susan · 6 years ago
    Thank you to the Brit who took the time to comment on this issue.....how meaningful to know that our allies feel as strongly about this as we do....but sadly the people who can make the changes seem not to want to listen..They are listening.....but they must act NOW!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Castor · 6 years ago
      Have you ever tried talking to a senior US Army officers ego?
      Opinionated output mode only. The best of the best of the best, Sir!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    peter · 6 years ago
    Thanks to the Brit, but he makes too much sense. :lol:
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Serge · 6 years ago
    I have read quite a number of posts on the US Army MEDEVAC policy by Michael Yon including this reprint and this is the conclusion I have reached, it is economically more efficient to have a soldier died or killed in combat than to endure additional expenses for his medical treatment. It should not come as a surprise given the types of combat missions those soldiers perform. For the most part the US military and political leadership regard Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as witnesses to the US Army's crimes (let's be honest) against local populations, etc. The most highly sensitive secret operations and missions had been carried out by soldiers who sooner than later have been killed in combat under dubious circumstances, in ambushes of various kind, car crashes, and accidents of various sorts. Modern warfare soldiers should stop bitching around, pick it up and accept what it takes being in the criminal-like US Armed Forces in general and US Army ground troops, due to their close contact with the "enemy", in particular.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Mark T · 6 years ago
      [quote name="Serge"]I have read quite a number of posts on the US Army MEDEVAC policy by Michael Yon including this reprint and this is the conclusion I have reached, it is economically more efficient to have a soldier died or killed in combat than to endure additional expenses for his medical treatment. It should not come as a surprise given the types of combat missions those soldiers perform. For the most part the US military and political leadership regard Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as witnesses to the US Army's crimes (let's be honest) against local populations, etc. The most highly sensitive secret operations and missions had been carried out by soldiers who sooner than later have been killed in combat under dubious circumstances, in ambushes of various kind, car crashes, and accidents of various sorts. Modern warfare soldiers should stop bitching around, pick it up and accept what it takes being in the criminal-like US Armed Forces in general and US Army ground troops, due to their close contact with the "enemy", in particular.[/quote]
      Thats the stupidest thing I've read in a long time, this area is meant for well thought opinions that deal with reality, even if they differ, not pungent hallucinations from the uninformed
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Serge · 6 years ago
        I am uninformed, rather not uniformed, this is true. And I am certainly far less hallucinating than those soldiers when they were joining the US Army. If you want to help those soldiers, the best option is to inform them beforehand what they would be driven to perform as a result of having to obey immoral and outright criminal orders from their dastardly commanders. You can try and trick your conscience when joining the ranks of a criminal organization the US Armed Forces have become, but you cannot trick your nature after you have murdered an innocent child or a pregnant woman or have run over a beggar by the track of your tank. Those brain washed soldiers, (practically yesterday’s teenagers) 18-20 years of age, mostly from economically “underprivileged families” are not supposed to be there in the first place, whereas their medevac timing has become a focus of concern of such universal proportions that it begins to sound outlandish if not ridiculously hypocritical, at least on the part of the “informed”. Arrogance in this regard at the “upper levels” of the US Army is indicative of a greater problem. Modern warfare is nowhere near the ennobled war "against Hitler" as during the WW2. It is quite the opposite these days. People should be informed about the facts of war to prevent things like these:
        “'Kill Team' soldier David Bram gets 5 years in jail over Afghan misconduct “ (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-kill-team-20110327)
        “Second US soldier pleads guilty to murdering Afghanistan civilians” (http://jurist.org/paperchase/2011/09/second-us-soldier-pleads-guilty-to-murdering-afghanistan-civilians.php)
        “Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont. was the highest ranking of five soldiers accused of the death of unarmed men during patrols in Kandahar earlier this year. (http://www.latestcnnnews.com/us-corps-accused-of-war-crimes-against-civilians-in-afghanistan.html)
        • This commment is unpublished.
          Matthew · 6 years ago
          Serge, usually there is a kernel of truth in outrageous statements. But in your statements the kernel is shrinking to the size of subatomic particles. That "Kill Team" article you source has proven to be bad journalism (Once again). Michael Yon has proven that himself. And you know what? I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to a soldier, any soldier, who is in a life or death situation, EVERYDAY. On another note, if the US military is such an immoral and criminal organization why would it be prosecuting soldiers in the first place? And there is no proof the economically "underpriveleged soldiers" dominate the US Military. I have seen too many who have been rejected or kicked out because they do not have what it takes to be a marine, soldier, sailor or and airmen, not to mention the number of college grads who are officers (and enlisted). Your average E4,5,6,7,8 is no idiot.
          I'm no jingoist. I know what is possible. But I'm sorry you have had so many bad experiences and lack enough purpose in your life to come here and throw up half truths and bombs all in the effort to show us the half informed version of your truth. I truly hope you lighten up, expand your horizons more and see what life is TRULY capable of giving you.
          • This commment is unpublished.
            Serge · 6 years ago
            The US Armed Services is a trap where those grads and non-grads are single-mindedly training to be more like machines that obey orders without qualms, trying to forget that they have conscience. Once they have taken someone’s life, they will never be the same. Emotionally they are ruined, socially they feel unfit. They are spent the moment they witnessed or took part in what by all accounts is an officially sanctioned murder of foreign civilians (disregarding the lives of the innocent elderly, women, and children) as part of what has been internationally recognized as aggressive intervention and occupation of foreign nations. You are right, they are no idiots and they perfectly understand deep in their hearts what is going on and what they have become part of, as pawns.
            They are just doing their job, we might say. Unfortunately, their job happens to be of criminal nature.
            As to the being fully informed, I would like to see at least one person in the Armed Services who is…
            Military intelligence – what an oxymoron!
            This is not my opinion. This is what the US Army generals think and what politicians say. Henry Kissinger, in front of Alexander Haig, newly appointed White House chief of staff, once said in 1973 that military men are "dumb, stupid animals to be used" as pawns for foreign policy.
            Michael Yon, who was embedded in the ‘Kill Team’ brigade, could not help calling it bad journalism. It certainly does not mean that it is. Those few cases are the tip of the iceberg. They were prosecuted because they got the attention of the general public. The vindictive viciousness of the US military policies toward their own servicemen and their families is getting increasingly notorious the world over.
            In most cases, family members are too scared even to think of what can be done to them in retaliation :
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=k8GR4KKwocU
            The fate of the US Navy SEALs Team 6 is even more tragic, though
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Leyla Najma · 6 years ago
      You don't have a clue so really people like you should just keep your mouth shut! You really sounded stupid here.

      Leyla
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Leyla Najma · 6 years ago
        Just so you all know I was aiming my comment at Mr — Serg not anybody else.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bradley Simpson · 6 years ago
    HUA
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SurvivalRing · 6 years ago
    Better to fail with honor, than succeed by fraud.

    Michael, with most of my family retired military, yet my brother a contractor who still spends months a year in country (yes, the one you've been in a lot lately), I unequivocally support your work in this MOST needed lack of administrative concern. Keep it up...it WILL save lives.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Anne in Virginia · 6 years ago
    Thank you, Michael, for the outstanding work you are doing on this vital issue.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cassandra · 6 years ago
    "there should be a quick meal of humble pie at the upper levels of the US Army"... There won't be while the Commander in Chief is hell-bent on the destruction of America and their Western allies!! Time to sack the terrorist in chief.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    flytiger · 6 years ago
    The Brits are spot on once again. Unfortunatly I don't see the Senior Army Leadership of today eating any kind of pie. The system is broke in this arena and it will take a verifyed major deal to get them to sit up and respect the needs of the battlefield.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dan · 6 years ago
    As a UK citizen I have followed both the Iraq and Afgan campaigns, Mike you have done a outstanding job. WE the Brits have made mistakes, we are far from perfect but our casualty policy of arming dust off's is absolutely spot on, the US position is just plain crazy, what on earth are the senior US officers thinking? The Geneva convention? Are you kidding me? Take the Red Crosses off now and start getting those guys out in 30 minutes, the Rupert had it right, who wants gold when you can have Platinum???
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jon 5051 · 6 years ago
    Many people keep their own council on this matter who are not Americans but are on this site. This Brit has put our thoughts into writing in a good way and hopefully helpful way. If you can run a mile in 4 minutes should you not be trying to do it in less next time - same argument for the medivacs. These guys are incredibly brave so why not give them a better chance than they currently have. That in doing so you would save US lives is the real aim. I dont know how someone can live with himself when he has to write the letter to the parents knowing that the recovery could have taken place minutes earlier had they made the right decison.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul Brockman · 6 years ago
    The Brit was spot on in his observation that a change of heart need bring no shame. Capital "L" leadership has (among other things) the ability to admit when a policy has been wrong (or has become obsolete) and then move to correct it. But stubborn pride often gets in the way of such.
    Unfortunately, we too often find people in positions of leadership, both in and out of the military, who couldn't lead ants to a picnic. They forget that to lead, one must serve.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Keith H · 6 years ago
      My boy has two Afghan tours under his belt....the most recent tour coordinating medevacs as a Fire Support Team Commander in Helmand. He's fully in support of Michael's efforts.
      PS The motto at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is "SERVE TO LEAD"....corrupted by the cadets to read, "SWERVE TO LEAD".....sounds like it's contagious here!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob C · 6 years ago
    ARVN scout with my det team found one booby trap, another found him. Slick from a nearby op heard the call and was on our smoke in under 10 min, both door guns sweeping. Saved his life.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    maximus · 6 years ago
    fyi
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 6 years ago
    I like it. Short and to the point.
  • This commment is unpublished.
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