Michael's Dispatches

Marked for Destruction


14 November 2011

Camouflage is a combat imperative.  Instruction in the use of camouflage begins in basic training.  The Red Cross on the bright white background is meant to break up camouflage and to be seen.

While there might seem little chance in hiding a roaring helicopter, the contrasting colors and sharp shapes of the Red Cross create a significant difference when aiming shots.  Many or most of the enemies in Afghanistan are bad shots.  Others are good.  They make successful long shots onto FOB Pasab, for instance, with explosive weapons, such as recoilless rifles and rockets.  They have no problems hitting moving armored vehicles with recoilless rifles.  One shot can easily destroy a helicopter.

2011-09-24-110438cc1000Combat Medic in 4-4 Cav: Not Wearing Red Cross

The Red Cross specifically means that the wearer is unarmed.  Only non-combatants are to display the symbol.  There is no security violation in saying that our helicopters sporting Red Crosses all are unarmed.  That is exactly what we are trying to advertise.

The enemies in Afghanistan will shoot down any helicopter.  And so, if the Army insists on using unarmed helicopters for MEDEVAC missions, it makes doubly no sense to advertise that the helicopter is defenseless, all while literally helping the enemy to aim.

2011-09-24-105447cc10004-4 Cav Soldiers firing mortar during minor firefight

It must border on criminal negligence to order our people to advertise that they are unarmed while knowing that the enemy will fire upon them.  At minimum, the US Army is displaying incompetence and a lack of sense.  The Marines, Air Force, and British do not so encumber their helicopters.  After ten years of war we know that the enemy shoots at all helicopters.  We know that forcing our warriors to advertise themselves as unarmed welcomes attack.  We know that the Red Cross literally makes an easier target for aiming.  After ten years of war, the Army has not adapted to this obvious reality.  

If the Army insists on pushing unarmed Soldiers into combat, it should at minimum remove the advertisement that notifies the enemy of an easy target.  With the Red Cross, our people cannot even bluff that they might have weapons.  Pushing unarmed Soldiers into combat while forcing them to advertise they are defenseless is wrong. 

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