Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' Lives

31 May 2012

The following document was provided by a source within the military.  This document proves that a decision was made not to arm vehicles during serious fighting because it would convey the wrong STRATCOM (strategic communications) message.


To download as a PDF please click here.


+8 # WonderfulMike Barnett 2012-05-31 15:16
Looks like we need a few Hackworths and Pattons running things instead of the PPs, REMFs, and politically correct apologists we have now.
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+7 # RE: WonderfulWes 2012-05-31 15:33
Patton was famous for putting his vanity above soldier's lives.

Hackworth bragged portenteously about flaunting UCMJ, by taking money from soldiers, nepotism, and beating up his troops.

Both are notable soldiers in their own right, but I'm not sure how they'd be a good choice to deal with our current situation.
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# Pattonscotch7 2012-06-04 16:39
I dunno Wes. One of the big F-ups in Iraq was the "De-Baathificat ion" of the government. Trouble was, the only people running the government were Suuni Baathists.

Rummy wanted to turn a nation that worked after a fashion administered by a minority so the majority Shiia could have their day in the sun. Worthy goal, but not a worthy overnight goal. We all know how that turned out.

Patton on the other hand resisted DC's desire for instant post-war "De-Nazificatio n" and kept the people who made the trains run on time in place till things got sorted out.

Lesson learned and in this case lost.
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+1 # RE: RE: WonderfulVNAF 2012-06-07 02:19
You are delusional.
Abrams called Hackworth the finest battalion commander the US Army ever produced. He had a record through two wars virtually unmatched.
Patton? Victor Davis Hanson has written that Patton was not only the most able field commander the US has ever produced (with the possible exception of Sherman)but one of the finest commanders ever in the entire history of warfare. An opinion nearly shared by Hubert Essame, and both historians stated that Patton could have ended the war in Europe in the fall of 1944.
Lets face it. If we had warriors of this kind running this operation people like Yon, Bing West, and others, would not be recommending a withdrawl!
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+8 # RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesKevin 2012-05-31 15:51
Looks correct to me. Not arming ambulances marked with a red cross is the proper call. If we mark a vehicle with a red cross it should not have crew served weapons.
The proper question is "do we want to turn a standard MRAP into an ambulance and leave the red cross off?" If so, then arm it but use it as an ambulance. If you mark it as an ambulance then it needs to not have crew served weapons.
The issue with the helicopters is arming it and removing the red cross. Same here. Either arm them and take the red cross off or put the red cross on and leave them unarmed.
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+15 # RE: RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesTony Halsey 2012-05-31 16:12
Arming those ambulances saves lives; what else needs to be known?
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+2 # Right on!Larry 2012-05-31 22:50
Two thumbs up on that one Tony!
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# Heard of the Geneva Conventions?USArmy Retired 2012-06-02 08:40
No crew served weapons on ambulances. Period. This is not only in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, but is in the best interests of the troops.
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+5 # Heard of Geneva Convention?Cav16 2012-06-04 14:25
Sure have, but are these terrorist we are fighting signatories?
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+11 # Seriously???165grNosler 2012-05-31 15:54
The decision makers never cease to amaze. Once again, those of us on the ground are pushed aside in the name of political correctness by REMFS who have not and never will BTDT.
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+10 # Local CallSpeakEasy 2012-05-31 16:34
Hmmm. At first glance I am thinking putting crew served weapons on a vehicle will make it a magnet for attack. But the fact that Michael Yon sees this as a mistake tells me the troops on the ground are telling him this. As always the Commanders on the ground should decide based on the reality of the situation and not "feelings" of politicians (both military and civilian. Hint: If you are military and your troop's welfare is not your highest priority, you are political). Unfortunately, that is not how the current administration works.
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+1 # Crew servedJohn_G 2012-05-31 18:28
Putting a vehicle in front of the bad guys makes them a target, the weapon doesn't matter - at least with this batch of enemies. They're not engaging our ground vehicles with small arms fire for the most part (maybe some of the dumb ones, but Darwin takes care of that), everything is's mostly IEDs and EFPs against the vehicles.

Strategic comms plans... all of this boils down to a general putting his signiture on something and M.Y. has now crossed him and tweaked an ego. At this point it's going to have to be POTUS or some senators telling soembody that their next promotion is in jeopardy. the media would help, but most of them are don't know enough to call BS on a letter from PA or a senior staffer.
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+1 # Nice ThoughToaster 2012-05-31 21:23
I put a lot of faith in Michael as well.

But enough of the partisan sniping already... "Unfortunately, that is not how the current administration works." I have yet to see an administration that 'works' so I don't see the point in singling out this one given a very long history of administrations mismanaging and misusing the military. If anything the military brass is to blame for putting internal politics ahead of the lives of those in their care - also not unprecedented. Thank God we have a system that allows us to apply pressure to encourage positive reforms.
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# Hercdriverjetdrvr 2012-06-04 01:35
Yeah...remember Mog? The PC police got those guys killed.
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+2 # RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesPopsi 2012-05-31 16:43
Why bother marking the MRAPs at all? Use them as an ambulance when needed.

If they are to be dedicated ie carrying medical staff, they shouldn't be armed if they're marked with a red cross.

Not that the bashi-bazouks care, they 'slaughter everybody'. But it does set a nasty precedent with civilized warriors - after all the trouble they had striking the conventions on safeguarding the wounded, hospitals, doctors, n'all..
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+11 # LTGreg H 2012-05-31 17:24
There are no civilized wars. Civilized wars are fought to be lost or at best tied and are not worth risking the lives of our young men and women. We need to have the mentality that if we are risking our best, we had best fight to win. Nothing should be off of the table.
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-10 # RE: LTTim B 2012-05-31 19:10
So, you advocate abandoning the Geneva Conventions completely then, regardless of what enemy you face? Take no prisoners? Screw the civilians?

This seems... simplistic.
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+4 # LTGreg H 2012-06-01 16:16
Tim, you are correct. It is simplistic. We win, they lose. If we aren't prepared to do what is needed to win, I wouldn't risk our young men and women. Again, pretty simple.
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# RE: RE: LTArlene 2012-06-02 15:31
Greg is not talking about abandoning the Geneva Convention. He's talking about protecting our own. If you were in a dark alley, unarmed, and you knew you were being stalked by a serial killer who had a gun, would you stand out in the middle of the alley and say, "I'm unarmed, please don't shoot"? I doubt if the Geneva Convention or the "rules of gentlemen" would pop into your head.
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+2 # GenevaJohn_G 2012-06-02 17:01
Yet we do need to re-evaluate Geneva. Geneva was written post WWII with the concept in mind that combattants would adhere to it and the people that didn't would be treated as criminals and summarily executed (see Law of Land Warfare, Chapter 3). Now we've got an enemy that exclusively exploits the loopholes that we had considered beyond the pale: Fighting amongst women and children, launching attacks from schools, hospitals, mosques, etc. If we really think that we're fighting to win, then we have to get after them despite the collateral damage...they choose to fight there, we don't. Otherwise we may as well pack it up.

And, we're already basically fighting a "take no prisoners" war now anyway with the drone strikes.
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# not reallyJohn - Capt in ANG 2012-06-05 08:55
You can't make a majority generalization based upon the minority. I can tell you that we've taken prisoners nearly daily, and yet, gone days without any drone strikes/deaths in or out of Afghanistan. I can give numbers to clearly show that your statement is no where near the reality, but they're not releasable (at least not by me).
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+1 # Hercdriverjetdrvr 2012-06-04 01:44
Since when has the GC applied to the Talis? Fighting with one hand voluntarily tied behind your back will quickly result in your death. The Japanese, the Russians and, in many cases the Germans in WW II ignore it. So did the North Koreans and the Chinese in Korea. And the VC and NVA in Vietnam. So why the hell are we adhering to it while fighting a bunch of tribesmen who can't read it and who would never adhere to it if they could? Either fight to win, or get the hell out. And don't hamstring our people out there on the spear's point.
Turn them loose and let them do what they do best.
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+1 # RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesC Good 2012-05-31 19:37
"To maintain the proper strategic communication plan and maintain the momentum of U.S. forces reducing kinetic operations, the M249 SAW will not be mounted on properly marked MRAP ambulances. Units will maintain security with escort vehicles."

. . . . Not much to argue or speculate about regarding their intent, when it's written that plainly.

Thank you for continuing to follow this story Michael.
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# namesPeter 2012-05-31 20:04
Well, this is a step in the right direction, but names would be better!
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+5 # RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesRM 2012-05-31 21:18
The Soviet military never told their soldiers not to shoot at helicopters marked with the red cross. They were told to use it as a helpful aiming aid.

I don't think our current foes give a crap about the Geneva Convention unless it will save their asses.
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+3 # RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesFrank 2012-05-31 21:23
Nice document! Fox network interested? If anyone here has been in the US Military its no surprise then.

@Tim B, Who follows the Geneva Convention besides us stupid Americans. The Geneva Convention didn't work in Nam either. Alls fair in love and war!
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-2 # RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesIncognito 2012-06-01 07:30
Wow! The upper echelon just NEVER cease to amaze and to disappoint! :eek::sad: And as for the rest of you, if you REALLY BELIEVE that this is the right decision, let's put your son or daughter in that chopper or ambulance and see if you still feel the same! I'm guessing that you might not...if you do, you're just as cold hearted as the ones that made the decision! And for full disclosure, no, I DO NOT have a child in the military. I just fight for the young man and woman who fight so damn hard to stay alive so they can live to fight another day for you and I to be able to express what we think! You have got to remember that we are not fighting the same war or the same enemy as we did in previous war conflicts. (IE: WWI, WWII, KOREAN WAR) Notice that I did not include the Vietnam War. (And yes, I'm sure there were some from previous conflicts, that just like our current enemy, would be thrilled to use that BIG RED CROSS as a convenient target) They didn't fight fair then either! Both the Vietnamese and the Fundamental Islamic Terrorists that we fought then and now, respectively, seem to fight at best, by the mentality of the two old sayings, "All's fair in love and war" and "What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine". Because clearly neither opponent was interested in the Geneva Convention. If our combative opponents would fight by the "rules", I wouldn't disagree so vehemently, because on the whole, in a "better" war where folks played by "the rules" so to speak I would actually agree. Just not this time. I just want as many of our young men and women to come home as whole as possible to their families, for their families AND FOR THEMSELVES! Not that you don't, but I just love these men and women so much... Personally, ... I'd like to Leon back on the front lines in the lowest possible rank, not as a punishment, just as a SHARPE, RUDE awakening and reminder for what it's like for our troops that unlike him, have ZERO POWER and depend on cowardly putzs like himself that don't do much more than sit behind a desk while they hope and pray the he will do whats right to keep them safe, hoping to GOD, that they don't end up betrayed and stabbed in the back, only to be told, sorry, it was just friendly fire!
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+2 # You aren't the only oneUSArmy Retired 2012-06-02 08:47
Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean we haven't been there. Try some decaf with a splash of humility.
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+1 # RE: RE: Proof That Military Puts Media Message before Troops' LivesKevin 2012-06-04 23:25
My point was that we should not mark any of our vehicles with Red Cross marking. That way we can use them for any situation.
But, if your going to mark them with the Red Cross symbol you need to abide by the Geneva Convention.
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+3 # Take a step back, breatheMarineOfficer 2012-06-03 00:55
Let's look at what we have here...MNC-I stands for Multi National Corps-Iraq. Meaning in late 2008, a new vehicle was being fielded, a decision was made to not arm that vehicle. Since Obama came into office (easily grabbed metric), 257 Americans have died, 128 in combat ( Who believes that a M249 would have impacted this number? Let us be clear, under International Law of Armed Conflict IT IS LEGAL to arm ambulances for self defense purposes. However, if you have four vehicles, 3 gun trucks and 1 ambulance, and video makes its way onto the internet of an ambush going down, is there a chance for harm because that ambulance with the red cross is laying waste with automatic gunfire? Yes. The insurgency would use that against us. Enough so that it could do long term, serious damage.

Commanders have to weigh risk. There is risk in not allowing our troops to roll WITH 1 EXTRA TRUCK WITH A M249. I ran plenty of convoys in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. NEVER did I mount a M249. Plenty of MK19's, M240's, and M2's. Used M249's for dismount elements. Here, a commanding general (I believe Odierno at the time, but I could be wrong) made a decision, upon input of his staff, to accept risk on the battle field in return for not creating an opportunity for the insurgents to exploit what would be a negative imagery.

WE are better then the enemy we face. WE do not conduct ourselves as barbarians. WE are the United States of America, the beacon of hope and freedom, the shining city upon the hill. WE win every engagement into which we are drawn, and WE will destroy those who threaten us. WE do not need always bring every gun we conceivably can, and we do not need every piece of rolling stock to be bristling with firepower. This "scorched earth" theory being proposed by most internet commenters is laughable. To quote another favorite General, our dear man Petraeus, "we cannot kill our way out of an insurgency."

We can however think our way out of it. This is part of that. 2008 there was very little fighting left in Iraq. I am 100% in agreement with M.Y. about what's going on with medevac flights in Afghanistan. But these two situations should not be commingled.
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+1 # Hercdriverjetdrvr 2012-06-04 02:01
So, remove the red crosses from the medevacs. That's what we're talking about here. That's what started this entire dialogue. Nobody's calking about sticking 249's or anything else on trucks. We're concerned with the delays caused by the requirement that medevac choppers Marked with the insignia must be accompanied by AH-64's or they have to wait. That wait is what contributed to Specialist Clark's death. All the rest is BS. That's it.
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+1 # Respectfully disagree on at least 2 pointsJohn - Capt in ANG 2012-06-05 09:07
First, people are discussing now the arming of the MRAPs for MEDEVAC with SAWs in this dispacth.

Second, by bringing up the MRAPs as an example when, as you mention, the main topic was helo, then it is appropriate to discuss how it's A) Different B) The right decision in this case.

I was fully prepared to disagree with MarineOfficer, but he makes an extremely compelling case and given I'm inside the wire, and he's outside, I'll respect his opinion and take him at his word. It makes sense with reports I see daily at HQ. I almost never see a case where we are outgunned. Matter of fact, I love it when they're dumb enough to expose themselves because we rarely lack precision munitions or insanely overwhelming firepower. There was a case of it this morning, as a matter of fact in SouthWest. Let's just say there was no need to enroll them in the biometric system post-mortum.
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+2 # Michael - simple requestJohn - Capt in ANG 2012-06-05 09:15
For those of us who look at your emails and still have active clearances, can you just put a quick note that things will/will not have any classified contained?

You cited an official document but I hesitated to open it because the last thing I want is classified on my personal computer or worse, NIPR, and I really had no way of knowing from the generic contents of the e-mail (linking to this dispatch).
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