Michael's Dispatches

Smoking Gun Army Documents

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Removing Red Crosses might help troops, but hurt Propaganda Campaign

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21 May 2012

We are making tremendous progress on the MEDEVAC issue.  Much of the progress has come from people scattered around America who contacted their Senators and Representatives.  Our “MEDEVAC Militia” was mostly ignored, or they received form letters that regurgitated Army propaganda.  Nonetheless, our persistent efforts are paying off.

At least 17 lawmakers took the issue seriously.  Congressman Todd Akin from Missouri gathered a posse and took it to the House Armed Services Committee.  There the posse confronted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Serious pressure has begun and we are not going to let up.

We have tremendous support from key military people.  This support is hidden and must remain so.

Our powerful opponents are the top military leadership, including SecDef Panetta and General Dempsey.  Needless to say, if a 1-Star General bucks Dempsey or Panetta, he will be sent home.  That is the way our system works.  Which is great.  But then there is a hidden reality.  The hidden reality means that Panetta and Dempsey cannot rule by fiat.  

On the MEDEVAC issue, Panetta and Dempsey have undermined their standing within the Army Dustoff and Air Force Pedro communities.  If they have any support remaining with Air Force Pedros, I have not found it.  Pedros are red country for them.  They do have some support within the Dustoff side, but that support is eroding month by month as more smoking guns are put on the table.

Importantly, the Dustoff community is only a subset of the affected parties.  There are also ground forces and medical constituencies.  Dustoff is the small but important go-between that carries wounded via helicopter.  This is by no means “all about Dustoff.”  It is about everybody who might be wounded, everyone who may have to transport and treat them, and their families and friends back in America, and about taxpayers who pay for wasteful Dustoff operations that use far more helicopters than are needed.

The steady stream of insider information that I continue to publish evidences growing support for change.  This stuff does not just blow in, carried by the wind.

Today’s document proves that Army top brass have misled lawmakers and the public about the MEDEVAC issue.

Specifically, the Army’s leadership has repeatedly told Senators, Representatives, and the general public that Red Crosses must be displayed on “Dustoff” MEDEVAC helicopters in order to comply with the Geneva Conventions.  This is false.  They know it.  So do we.  The Army’s leadership has also stated that no commanders have asked to remove the Red Crosses, or arm MEDEVAC helicopters.  This is false.

Officers have told me that some units wanted to remove the Red Crosses, but we had no smoking gun documents to prove their statements.  Thanks to hidden hands, we now have those documents.

Commanders asked for the Red Crosses to be removed, and their higher echelons of command denied their requests for purposes of IO/STRATCOM.  (Information Operations/Strategic Communications: meaning propaganda.)  A more complete definition of Information Operations can be found in the joint publication 3-13-4: Military Deception

And so, distilling to the essence of this aspect of the controversy, we have documents proving that General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta are sending troops into great danger simply for propaganda purposes.  One document is reprinted below.

Let us begin with an Army statement on MEDEVAC.  The most salient parts of both documents are in red:

“Finally, it's important to remember that the Army would change its policy if battlefield commanders wanted a change. We take our obligation to perform the MEDEVAC mission very seriously. We're a learning organization and periodically we review our policies to make sure they remain relevant. We looked at the MEDEVAC policy in 2008, but after a review, we determined no change was necessary.

The SMOKING GUN

UNCLASSIFIED

INFORMATION PAPER

DASG-HCF
19 November 2008

SUBJECT:  C/2-227 General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) Proposal for Deployment of Armed Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) Helicopters and Painting over Red Crosses

1.  Purpose.  Provide the Director of Health Care Operations, Office of The Surgeon General (OTSG) an update on the status of the C/2-227th GSAB proposal for deployment of armed MEDEVAC helicopters and painting over the red crosses.

2.  Facts.

  a.  OTSG Aeromedical Evacuation Officer was notified 02 OCT 08 that Charlie Company (Air Ambulance Company) C/2-227th GSAB of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) of the 1st Cavalry Division proposed to paint "over" three (3) MEDEVAC Aircraft (A/C) red crosses IOT employ them as MEDEVAC chase A/C during their upcoming deployment to OIF.  The CAB’s intent is to keep the MEDEVAC carousels installed, Medical Equipment Sets (MES) and Flight Medics on board during all missions and install M240s (crew-serve weapon) in the doors gunner windows (total two per A/C).  The CAB has evaluated and completed the first iteration of aerial gunnery for C/2-227th GSAB utilizing C/2-227th GSAB organic MEDEVAC A/C with Red Crosses and organic flight crews.  Their proposal once deployed, utilize the A/C in an escort role/support and utilize an "extra" set of cargo doors with red crosses if utilized for actual missions if required after the removal of the M240s (A/C would not be marked IAW FM 4-02.2 & TM 55-1500-345-23).

  b.  HQDA G3/5/7 Aviation, FORSCOM G3 Aviation and Medical Evacuation Proponency Directorate at Ft Rucker were all notified of the proposal.  OTSG Aeromedical Evacuation Officer requested & received a complete legal review by OTSG SJA and HQDA Office of the Judge Advocate General in order to assess the legal/policy considerations as they apply to the following: HQDA General Order # 3 (Assignment of Functions and Responsibilities within Headquarters, Department of the Army), Geneva Convention, DoD Directive 2311.01E (DoD Law of War Program”, U.S. Code Title 10 Section 164 (Duties of the Combatant Commanders), U.S. Code Title 10 Section 3013 (Duties of the Secretary of the Army), AR 40-3 (Medical, Dental & Veterinary Care), AR 71-32 (Force Development and Documentation), AR 350-1 (Army Training and Leader Development), FM 4-02.2 (Medical Evacuation), FM 4-02.10 (Theater Hospitalization), FM 27-10 (Law of Land Warfare), TM 55-1500-345-23 (Painting & Marking of Army Aircraft), Information Paper Crew Served Weapons Training (OTSG SJA Legal Opinion 2007), MNC-I FRAGO 129 (M249 Mounting MRAP), FORSCOM SJA Paper (M249 Mounting MEV), TSG Memo dated 05 JAN 04 (Avn Task Force), MEDEVAC Charter between AMEDDC&S & USAAVNC dated 14 MAY 04 and Maintaining the proper strategic communication plan.

  c.  Initial assessment / findings by the OTSG Aeromedical Evacuation Officer were sent to HQDA G3 Avn, FORSCOM Surgeon Office & FORSCOM G3 Avn 30 OCT 08.  FORSCOM G3 Avn engaged III Corps Avn 05 NOV 08 and addressed that FORSCOM G3 Avn does NOT support 2-227th GSAB plan for MEDEVAC Aircraft.  Additionally, HQDA G3/5/7 Avn and FORSCOM Surgeon Office do NOT support 2-227th GSAB plan as well.

3.  Key points.

a.    Initial assessment / findings by OTSG.

1) The Surgeon General, delegated the responsibility to establish Law of War doctrine for medical personnel for the Secretary of the Army (DA General Order # 3, dated 09 JUL 02), can dictate policy and doctrine which he has done through AR 40-3, FM 4-02.2, and FM 4-02.10.  He has the authority, responsibility and capability to provide operational oversight of medical capabilities to include the medical evacuation component IAW the Air Ambulance Charter dated 14 MAY 04.  He must be able to retain visibility / oversight over these units as the absolute critical linkage in the healthcare continuum since the AMEDD has the retention of these MTO&Es (SRC08 vs SRC01).

2) AR 40-3, FM 4-02.2 and FM 4-02.10 prohibit the use of MEDEVAC aircraft other than for their intended purpose and installation of crew-served weapons.

3) Though not a technical violation of the Law of War and International Law, the painting over of red crosses and installing M240 crew-serve weapons will not only have potential negative IO implications in the ITO but has the very real potential to reflect negatively on the national strategic communication plan.

4) Will most likely create significant legal issues, increases the potential of Law of War violations, potential outright violations of the Geneva Convention, and require a substantial change in Army doctrine.

5) MEDEVAC asset sourcing is contentious (low density, high demand).  CENTCOM will expect the Force Providers to produce what has been requested.  When C/2-227th GSAB arrives in the ITO, it is expected as a 12 ship MEDEVAC company IAW the FTNs.  Arriving with 9 or 10 "dedicated" MEDEVAC aircraft will raise flags and send what kind of strategic message.

6) The Surgeon General authorized M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) (NOT M240 crew-serve weapon) use on the Stryker Medical Evacuation Vehicle (MEV) and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Ambulances IAW TSG Memo dated 21 FEB 07.  However, due to negative IO implications in the ITO and very real potential to reflect negatively on the national strategic communication plan, FORSCOM & MNC-I decided NOT to authorize the employment of these weapons for the reasons listed above (FORSCOM SJA Paper M249 Mounting MEV and MNC-I FRAGO 129 M249 MRAP).

7) Longstanding Army policy and doctrine, outlined in chapter 16 of AR 40-3, Appendix A of FM 4-02.2 and P-3 of FM 4-02.2.10 prohibit the mounting of crew-served weapons on MEDEVAC aircraft and provide detailed guidance on the utilization of the MEDEVAC aircraft, lest the platform lose its protected status under the Geneva Convention.

8) The Hague Convention, Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War and on Land, Article 23f, specifically prohibits the misuse of the red cross symbol.  A misuse would include using an aircraft marked or partially marked with red crosses for offensive operations (M240 crew-serve weapon viewed as offensive) or in self-defense beyond that allowed by Geneva Convention, article 22.  The arrangement proposed by 2-227th GSAB invites the possibility of a potential Law of War Violation.  If a M240 mounted in a MEDEVAC aircraft (if some or all red crosses showing) is used to commit a hostile action against an enemy, it would clearly be considered a violation of the Law of War or in other words a war crime.

4.  OTSG Recommendation.

a.  OTSG / MEDCOM Legal position dated 10 AUG 07, "The AMEDD prefers to maintain a standard for doctrine and training clearly consistent with the Geneva Convention and "NOT" arm MEDEVAC helicopters with crew-serve weapons".

b.  1st CAV CAB does NOT paint over the red crosses and install M240 crew-serve weapons.  Though not a technical violation of the Law of War and International Law, the painting over of red crosses and installing M240 crew-serve weapons will not only have potential negative IO implication in the ITO but has the very real potential to reflect negatively on the national strategic communication plan.  This will create significant legal issues, increases the potential of Law of War violations, potential outright violations of the Geneva Convention, and require a substantial change in Army doctrine.

Prepared by:  LTC HOWARD (703) 681-8195
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Approved by:  COL Stewart

UNCLASSIFIED

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    YIZ · 6 years ago
    "potential negative IO implication in the ITO but has the very real potential to reflect negatively on the national strategic communication plan."

    Sounds like a bunch of BULLSHIT to me.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Toaster · 6 years ago
      I guess they are trying to impress the idea of an ariel Christian crusade on the Afghanistanis. Removing the red cross would diminish that effect ;-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dang · 6 years ago
    Once again, you guys have missed the point - one does not go to war under one set of rules and play by another - the whole point of Bill Howard's memo is that we cited then and still cite (whether you agree, Mike, or not, that the Geneva Convention applies - while openly planning on using those aircraft for other purposes - often to be viewed as a deception for an "offensive" operation while under the protection of the GC - so, yes, it would send the wrong message to the folks we're fighting for - this is NOT a smoking gun as you so gleefully point out - it's an upfront statement that we're operating and the units at Fort Hood were going to operate under the guidelines as we understood them of the GC.

    Keep looking Mike - this is not what you're making it out to be.

    The unit commander that requested this removal was an aviation unit commander who wanted to use "dedicated" aircraft for his "ash and trash" and "beans and bullets" missions - not medevac - just the point we've fought all along -

    Furthermore - in your missive above you state as though it were fact that we (the Army) are using far too many aircraft to accomplish the mission. You quote: "and about taxpayers who pay for wasteful Dustoff operations that use far more helicopters than are needed." - that statement shows that you and your people know nothing about what it takes to ensure medical coverage of an area the size of Iraq or Afghanistan and ensure the one-hour goal for evacuation.

    You are losing credibility yourself with your overly passionate goal of dictating how to run medical evacuation.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      YIZ · 6 years ago
      I guess if you were bleeding to death, and the MEDEVAC chopper takes forever to get to you because of the bullshit rules, you will be totally fine with it, because at least the Army is following the Geneva Convention.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Joe Norman · 6 years ago
      [quote name="Dang"]Once again, you guys have missed the point - one does not go to war under one set of rules and play by another - the whole point of Bill Howard's memo is that we cited then and still cite (whether you agree, Mike, or not, that the Geneva Convention applies - while openly planning on using those aircraft for other purposes - often to be viewed as a deception for an "offensive" operation while under the protection of the GC - so, yes, it would send the wrong message to the folks we're fighting for - this is NOT a smoking gun as you so gleefully point out - it's an upfront statement that we're operating and the units at Fort Hood were going to operate under the guidelines as we understood them of the GC.

      Keep looking Mike - this is not what you're making it out to be.

      The unit commander that requested this removal was an aviation unit commander who wanted to use "dedicated" aircraft for his "ash and trash" and "beans and bullets" missions - not medevac - just the point we've fought all along -

      Furthermore - in your missive above you state as though it were fact that we (the Army) are using far too many aircraft to accomplish the mission. You quote: "and about taxpayers who pay for wasteful Dustoff operations that use far more helicopters than are needed." - that statement shows that you and your people know nothing about what it takes to ensure medical coverage of an area the size of Iraq or Afghanistan and ensure the one-hour goal for evacuation.

      You are losing credibility yourself with your overly passionate goal of dictating how to run medical evacuation.[/quote]

      Are you living on planet Bullshit? Do you think for one nanosecond that ANY belligerent that we are fighting gives one good flying damn about a red cross on a helicopter? The only thing the red cross tells them is that they won't get any fire from that ship and that they can have open season on the ship and it's crew.
      I don't understand why we'd need a "smoking gun" in this debate anyway! COMMON SENSE and breathing in REALITY tells any person with a functioning brain that red crosses and unarmed helos are just STUPID and COST AMERICAN LIVES!!! I could give a good flying shit LESS about some damn archaic rules that hog ties us and give our enemy free reign to kill more of us! Am I the only person left in America who thinks VICTORY and WE WIN, THEY LOSE are the only objectives in war? I mean, if you're not in it to win it.....WHY ARE WE THERE???
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Dalton Fury · 6 years ago
        Couldn't have said it better Joe Norman.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Michael Yon Author · 6 years ago
        Agreed in full.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        ST Dog · 6 years ago
        [quote name="Joe Norman"]
        I don't understand why we'd need a "smoking gun" in this debate anyway![/quote]

        The smoking gun was in reference to the Army saying that the units haven't asked to remove the crosses and arm the birds. This was a direct response to exacly that request.

        Also the Army claims the Geneva Conventions require MEDEVAC birds to be marked and unarmed, which the letter clearly states is not a requirement.

        Marked birds must be unarmed, but there is no requirement that only marked (and unarmed) birds be used for MEDEVAC. ANY vehicle can be used. Only marked and unarmed vehicles are "protected", but the current enemy doesn't give our vehicles that protection, so why bother with the requirements to receive it.
        (They expres concern that someone would keep the weapons and use the marked doors which would violate the conventions)
    • This commment is unpublished.
      JB · 6 years ago
      [quote name="Dang"]Once again, you guys have missed the point - one does not go to war under one set of rules and play by another - the whole point of Bill Howard's memo is that we cited then and still cite (whether you agree, Mike, or not, that the Geneva Convention applies - while openly planning on using those aircraft for other purposes - often to be viewed as a deception for an "offensive" operation while under the protection of the GC - so, yes, it would send the wrong message to the folks we're fighting for - this is NOT a smoking gun as you so gleefully point out - it's an upfront statement that we're operating and the units at Fort Hood were going to operate under the guidelines as we understood them of the GC.

      Keep looking Mike - this is not what you're making it out to be.

      The unit commander that requested this removal was an aviation unit commander who wanted to use "dedicated" aircraft for his "ash and trash" and "beans and bullets" missions - not medevac - just the point we've fought all along -

      Furthermore - in your missive above you state as though it were fact that we (the Army) are using far too many aircraft to accomplish the mission. You quote: "and about taxpayers who pay for wasteful Dustoff operations that use far more helicopters than are needed." - that statement shows that you and your people know nothing about what it takes to ensure medical coverage of an area the size of Iraq or Afghanistan and ensure the one-hour goal for evacuation.

      You are losing credibility yourself with your overly passionate goal of dictating how to run medical evacuation.[/quote]
      JB
      Your problem is you are trying to act like you are "saving medivac" for the mission which is crap, because you use them for transport of your DB medical staff.
      Next political? How about you stop changing the ROE for political purposes back home? How about you stop it with the effort to get the boss re-elected?
      You know what the point is. You know the boss needs to pull out to get a second shot and you are too scared to say NO, WE are not paying our killers to protect us.
      COME ON!! if you left the FOB and drove through any city in Afghanistan you would NOT SEE ONE PICTURE OF KARZAI!! THEY HATE THAT MAN yet we keep catering TO PAKISTAN! WHY? You can effect it but like the DUSTOFF you choose to parrot the company line like a little spineless yes man. Oh Im the guy protecting your BOYS butts from the air if you must know where I am coming from.
      OH big Army, keep doing what you do, press till you have contact then drop back 2 miles and build a FOB.... that is working REALL FREAKING well for you isnt it!!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Dale Jelinek · 6 years ago
      Dang,

      I agree with you that the number of MEDEVAC helicopters has been trailing the curve of demand since the outset of the war in Afghanistan. I have seen a NATO or Royal Army Medical Corps briefing document that laid out the past areas of coverage in Afghanistan. From a geographic coverage perspective there were very large areas unserved by MEDVAC units. Without having access to the classified maps that showed ISAF/US combat activities in those same periods, it is hard to say what contested areas were underserved.

      In early 2009 Secretary of Defense Gates was given an analysis that showed that MEDVAC in Iraq was structured differently and had shorter mission times and different survival rates. This led to Gates' order that the "Golden Hour" be used as a goal in Afghanistan. One way to achieve that was to employ the Pedro force in regular MEDEVAC operations. The next step was the reconstitution of the MEDEVAC companies from 12 MEDEVAC helicopters back to the 15 helicopters they had before the reorganization. Finally, more companies were deployed simultaneously as the combat forces grew in number and location. Unfortunately, getting deployed MEDEVAC fleet counts by time period and Regional Command is extremely hard.

      Given the tempo of operations which set demand for battlefield rescues and the need to use helicopters for most transfers between medical treatment facilities, my guess is that even more helicopters are needed. This would reduced the demands on flight crews and slow the wear and tear on the aircraft fleet.

      As to the question of how the Geneva Convention was understood at the time, the JAG issued an opinion to the Surgeon General in October, 2008 on the specific question. The opinion stated that the removal of the Red Crosses and arming the helicopters would NOT violate the GC or other international law. The decision to make these changes was not vested in the Surgeon General, but in the Theater Command. The Surgeon General failed to inform the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army when he requested the DCS issue a guidance prohibiting those changes.

      I agree with you that there is a real risk of misapplication of unmarked, armed MEDEVAC helicopters, if Combat Aviation command has sole control of the birds without specific guidance as to their primary mission and prioritization of use.

      The problem is that the Surgeon General did not argue that issue. He argued the GC issue, and did so through misdirection, misstatements and omission of the JAG ruling. He could have taken the high ground and argued that the protection of the force and morale required adequate availability of MEDEVAC helicopters with specific mission completion requirements like the Golden Hour. (Recall that only 75% of missions in 2008 were completed within 2 hours, and the AMEDD published an article claiming the benefits of the Golden Hour were a myth.) But HE chose to use a deceptive tactic instead.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Pedro Pilot · 6 years ago
        MEDEVACmatters.org - USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters first deployed to OEF under the TACON of the Army for MEDEVAC in 2006, not 2009.
        • This commment is unpublished.
          Dale Jelinek · 6 years ago
          Thank you for the clarification regarding the date. I will adjust my notes accordingly.

          It is interesting to see how many people still argue that Pedros did not, have not and are not flying MEDEVAC missions. Even Gates clearly stating that fact is ignored.

          From a defensenews.com interview with then outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates published on June 12, 2011. Gates states that USAF Pedro crews had flown over 9,700 MEDEVAC missions in Afghanistan by that date. He specifically used the term MEDEVAC, and drew the distinction between those missions flown by Pedro crews and the CSAR missions which have occurred only very rarely.

          Q. [Defense News]Do problems have to be tackled more innovatively?

          A. [Secretary of Defense Robert Gates] The problem that we face is that in these wars we have become incredibly joint operationally, but we've made very little progress in becoming joint in terms of procurement and acquisition.

          There are some examples that the Marine Corps and the Army are working together on some UAVs and there are some other examples, but one of the programs that I killed in '09 was a whole new helicopter program for the Air Force for search and rescue. You know how long it's been since we had a pilot shot down? So the main search and rescue that's going on is in fact MEDEVAC.

          You know, the Air Force flew something like 9,700 MEDEVAC missions last year in Afghanistan. So why were they going to build a brand new search-and-rescue helicopter that was really only for the Air Force?"

          [end of quote]

          Anyone who keeps arguing that Pedros don't fly MEDEVAC missions is beating a dead horse. They do and they fly them without Red Crosses and with mini-guns or .50 caliber machine guns. The artificial distinction that the Army defenders keep trying to make is a false one that defies reality.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      ST Dog · 6 years ago
      [quote name="Dang"] Furthermore - in your missive above you state as though it were fact that we (the Army) are using far too many aircraft to accomplish the mission. You quote: "and about taxpayers who pay for wasteful Dustoff operations that use far more helicopters than are needed." - that statement shows that you and your people know nothing about what it takes to ensure medical coverage of an area the size of Iraq or Afghanistan and ensure the one-hour goal for evacuation.
      [/quote]

      While there is a shortage of equiped MEDEVAC birds, that's not the waste in question. It's the non-MEDEVAC escorts that he's talking about.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Bohica · 6 years ago
        [quote name="ST Dog"]
        While there is a shortage of equiped MEDEVAC birds, that's not the waste in question. It's the non-MEDEVAC escorts that he's talking about.[/quote]

        Seemed clear to anyone that could read with the exception of someone arguing current policy.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Bohica · 6 years ago
      "3) Though not a technical violation of the Law of War and International Law, the painting over of red crosses and installing M240 crew-serve weapons will not only have potential negative IO implications in the ITO but has the very real potential to reflect negatively on the national strategic communication plan."

      Listen you little perfumed prince, my brothers in arms are dying because of this dumb ass policy. Ruck up and shoulder your weapon, find the nearest front and see if you agree with this asinine policy once you get hit.

      That quote from the memo above makes pretty damn clear there is no problem with painting them over, as the other forces have shown clearly by not wearing it.

      Pull your head out your ass and go talk to Clarks parents if you think the Red Cross still needs to be on choppers.

      I have despised you gutless bastards for years and continue to despise your chickenshit maneuvers without regard to those bleeding under you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dale Jelinek · 6 years ago
    As revealed in the post "Word Games" published here on May 12, 2012, the OTSG (Office of the Surgeon General of the Army)had received in early October 2008 (a month before this "Finding" by LTC Howard)an opinion from the Army's Judge Advocate on Law of War Matters and International Law authorizing the removal of the Red Crosses and arming the MEDEVAC helicopters. The opinion clearly stated doing so was not a violation of law and the only concern would be the loss of the protection against enemy fire offered by the presence of Red Crosses on the helicopters.

    The campaign of deception shown here in LTC Howard's memo continued on January 8, 2009 with the Surgeon General's plea to the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for a directive prohibiting the removal of the Red Crosses and the arming of MEDEVAC helicopters. (See "Word Games" for the exact, misleading language used by the Army Surgeon General to manipulate the Deputy Chief of Staff.)

    The willingness of senior officers in the Office of the Army Surgeon General, (the commanding General of the Army Medical Department)to boldly misrepresent facts and official JAG legal opinions to the top leaders of the Army is breathtaking.

    The question is who or what was being protected by these "findings" and requests for the Deputy Chief of Staff to issue "an immediate guidance" on MEDEVAC helicopters that would prohibit the authorized actions?

    - Was the wounded soldier in the battlefield being protected by keeping the MEDEVAC helicopters unarmed and flying under the "protection" of the Red Cross?
    - The MEDEVAC crews?
    - The International Red Cross Committee?

    Or was it the power and control of the Army Medical Department leadership over the helicopters? Since the Vietnam War the Combat Aviation arm had been working to gain operational control of the MEDEVAC force. The AMEDD successfully resisted this until the mid-2000's when a reorganization of the Army placed MEDEVAC under Combat Aviation operational control. The only remaining grip on the aircraft by AMEDD was tied to the presence of the Red Crosses on the helicopters. The JAG opinion threatened that and needed to be fought at every turn to save that last element of AMEDD operational control.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Heywood Jablomi · 6 years ago
    Yet another parochial defender of AMEDD turf speaks! Dang, I HATE it when that happens. Moron.

    Here is a suggestion: stop looking at this issue through organizational filters, stop drinking the AMEDD kool-aid, and stop trying to defend a fiefdom that has deserved to be dismantled for decades. Yes, I am talking about AMEDD, and I am talking about you. You are a jackass.

    AMEDD should no longer be entrusted to control helicopters. They have demonstrated that they are not competent to do it. In fact, I am at a point where I believe that AMEDD should not even be entrusted to train its flight medics. They have botched that by failing to train flight medics AT ALL for decades.

    Anyone who is familiar with the expertise held (or not held, rather) by flight medics wonders why their leadership felt that it was sufficient for them to deploy with a bag of bandages and the ability to hold the hand of a dying man. No IV's. No morphine. No oxygen. No chest tubes. No intubation of any kind. These subjects were too advanced for the average 91B, and flight medics were given no further medical training. This state of affairs has endured for DECADES. It could have been fixed. It should have been fixed. The well-being of the force required it. But I guess that politics and budgets and competent management was something that you and your AMEDD buddies could not handle, huh?

    I guess that your reasoning was that casualties were on a helicopter and would be at a care facility soon? Idiots. If the Army could stop glad-handing itself over its alleged 92% survival rate it would be able to see the problem from the other direction: an 8% mortality rate that can be improved upon is unacceptably high, especially when it only exists because a fiefdom wants to keep its helicopters and keep its medics stupid and untrained.

    If you want to save money, I advocate the utter dissolution of AMEDD in entirety. Either that, or bring in adult leadership, from OUTSIDE THE CAREER FIELD. Bring in Infantry commanders who have lost men due to the incompetence of medics, or due to the sickening launch policies of MEDEVAC slicks in the war zone. Because Medical Service Corps officers are pathetically in over their heads, and have been since Vietnam, if not longer.

    Dang, I do not like cheerleaders. You had best sit down and cross your legs. The truth is not on your side, and everyone in the room knows it.

    Cordially yours, speaking truth to authority,

    Heywood Jablomi
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Heywood Jablomi · 6 years ago
    Thank God for MEDEVAC Matters.org.

    It is beautiful to see adult leadership that can keep its rage under control. Alas, I cannot.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Dale Jelinek · 6 years ago
      Heywood, thank you for the compliment. But let there be no mistake about my passion on this topic. Six months ago that passion was awakened by Michael's report about SPC Chazray Clark. Since that time my research has led me into other areas related to AMEDD leadership. On topic after topic I am bewildered by a pattern of denial, delay, refusal to accept specific guidance on training, equipment, procurement, design, policies, etc.

      I get how easy it is to Monday morning QB somebody else, and I am honestly trying to take that into consideration by seeing what facts were available to leadership and when. Then looking at when was some action taken that took those facts into account. It is the disconnect between facts and action that is disconcerting and causes questions about "why" to be raised.

      By using official reports from the Army, DoD, NATO, the British Army Medical Corps and articles by AMEDD doctors published in medical journals I am trying to keep within the realm of information known to the Army and avoid pure speculation. From what I find I draw conclusions and write about what I have found. Because much of the relevant information is still classified or not in the public realm, I may be missing critical data points that drove leadership to act as they did. But even if I am wrong 50% of the time (which I seriously doubt is the case), there are plenty of decisions and actions that are worthy of further inquiry by senior leaders in the DoD and Congress.

      Look, I honestly believe that none of the problems I have worked on reveal a lack of patriotism or commitment to the wounded. I just think that the worldview of AMEDD leadership is different and they think that keeping the Red Crosses keeps the helicopters available for MEDEVAC missions. If that causes some delays in launches and some deaths, then they argue back even more deaths were prevented by keeping the aircraft dedicated to MEDEVAC through wearing the Red Crosses when the alternative is they might be off on other non-medical duties when a 9-line comes in. I understand that. But shouldn't they be held accountable to regularly measure what the trade-off in lives actually is and review it and inform DoD (since the Army is principally responsible for MEDEVAC for all services)? As far as I can see anyone who doesn't repeat the party line in these matters is placing their career at risk. Hence the PAO's comment that everything is fine because nobody is complaining.

      So, who has oversight on the AMEDD and Army leaders relative to MEDEVAC? How active have they been? What changes has their independent oversight and fact verification yielded over the past 10 years of war fighting? We have seen in recent posts by MEDEVACmatters and Michael Yon that taking senior AMEDD leaders at their word is fraught with the danger of being misinformed at best and deliberately misled at worst. And THAT has me worried most of all.
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    hippiepooter · 6 years ago
    As an Englishman, I have to say that this most worthy of causes has inspired not just great writing, but singularly *American* great writing.

    Great patriotic prose for a great patriotic cause. God bless you Mr Yon.
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    Armando · 6 years ago
    Where is Curtis LeMay when you need him?
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    JohnG · 6 years ago
    The I/O campaign? For who? Not for the TB/HIG/HQN. Our I/O campaigns are failures. It's a fail because there's no decrease in the number of foreign fighters (or funding, or ammunition, or munitions), and the locals are saving thier cooperation for whoever is left after we leave. The aggravating thing is that political correctness will not allow us to adjust an I/O campaign if we were actually interested in winning (what did Sun Tzu say about knowing oneself and knowing the enemy? We refuse to know the enemy). Most importantly though, is TB/HIQ/HQN don't give a rats @$$ whether we've got a cross on a helicopter or not, certainly it isn't a point of contention in our "secret talks" we're having with them about capitulation...er, I mean reconciliation.
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    Frank · 6 years ago
    @ Joe Norman, Joe your not the only one! I stand in your corner I'm sick in tired of the crap that the US Army is pulling. I expected more from the US Military. I didn't think they were as Chicken S*** as the freakin politicians that think they are doing a fine job running this country. I hope someone with a brain and just a little bit of common sense is reading all these emails. Again Michael we appreciate all you have done. Your head must be really sore by now from all the banging you have done against the wall on the subject. Which was actually a no brainer from the start.
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    JB · 6 years ago
    Wow, what part of English do these guys not understand. The Geneva convention language requiring the red cross on medical evacution helos is meant to protect these aircraft. The enemy, if they follow the GC, cannot fire on them. For that reason, they cannot be armed, or used for other than med eval missions. If you take the red cross off, they are NOT med eval helos!!! That means they can be armed and the enemy could fire on them. It is not a violation of GC to remove the crosses or to arm helos flying med evac missions if they don't sport the red cross. It is a violation to arm a helo if it has a red cross, or to use that helo for missions other than med evac. If it does not have a red cross -- it is not a medical evac helo.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Dale Jelinek · 6 years ago
      On 1/20/2012 the Army's Chief Public Affairs Officer stated:

      "First, there is no evidence, implied or proven, that the enemy deliberately targets MEDEVAC helicopters, but we know from hard experience that the enemy does try to shoot down any and all U.S. and coalition aircraft."

      The Joint Chiefs of Staff in a 1/19/2012 document forwarded to the US Congress stated:

      "In the last six months, there have been a total of 57 surface to air fire events involving MEDEVAC aircraft."

      So, at least awe can agree that MEDEVAC helicopters are fired on by the enemy in Afghanistan. That means the Red Cross "protection" is non-existent.

      OK. Now if you carefully read the GC and the accompanying notes on the International Red Cross site, you will learn:

      - The benefits of the GC accrue to signatories of the GC when in conflicts with other signatories.
      - If a signatory nation is in a conflict with a non-signatory nation or a non-state entity (such as the Taliban and al Qaeda), the signatory nation (the US) must grant the opposing force a reasonable time to:
      - sign the GC, or
      - demonstrably act in accordance with the provisions of the GC

      Should the opposing force do neither of these two options the signatory nation (the US) is relieved of all its obligations under the treaty. It is free to uphold any or none of the GC provisions for the duration of time that the opposing force does not do one of the two alternatives indicating its adherence to the GC.

      You will also learn that the MEDEVAC MISSION does not require the display of Red Cross. It only states that if you wish to have protection for medical forces and patients, then you must fly the Red Cross emblems. If you display the Red Crosses then you cannot arm the vehicles.

      Nowhere in the GC does it state that all medical evacuations must be conducted under Red Cross emblems. Any vehicle of any type with or without Red Cross markings may be used for medical purposes.

      My post "Word Games" includes an excerpt from the US Army Judge Advocate official opinion to the Army Surgeon General on this exact point issued a month before the OTSG sent out the memo in this post. Helicopters may continue to fly without any modification to the equipment or mission while being armed as long as they don't display the Red Crosses. Same crew, same medics, same life saving equipment and supplies.

      If you want to play word games and say only missions flown by a helicopter with Red Crosses on it is MEDEVAC, then I can't stop you. I can tell you that in Afghanistan the USAF, UK, Spain, Norway, Turkey and Germany all fly their MEDEVAC missions without displaying the Red Crosses; the British and USAF also fly their copters with 2 or crew served weapons on board. Now tell me again how they are violating the GC or not flying MEDEVAC missions.
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    Matthew M · 6 years ago
    What am I missing? Why is it so important that the OTSG keep all of their helicopters? Why put up such a fight? This is 1st grade stuff here. Very wierd.
    And IO? WTF!?!!? Really? Do they really think that is going to work?
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    C Good · 6 years ago
    I'm currently reading "The Peter Principle" by Laurence J. Peter & Raymond Hull. I'd heard of the Peter Principle before -- that people in an hierarchy get promoted to their level of incompetence & then stay there -- but this is first time I've read the book. Peter puts a lot of thought into how hierarchies operate. He writes that you can tell when someone has reached their level of incompetence when they get more concerned with their subordinate's input (are they following all rules & procedures and not disrupting the hierarchy?) than with their output (is the job they're supposed to be doing actually getting done?). The whole point of the Peter Principle is that if someone is competent at a job they'll get promoted out of that job into the next job up, and that continues until they get into a job they are not competent at -- but Peter also points out "competence" in that context is unrelated to how the company or employee is perceived by customers, it is entirely dependent on what members of the hierarchy believe "competence" to be. And that gets back to the members of the hierarchy who have reached their own level of incompetence and have come to define "competence" on the employees input to the job, rather than the output.


    All of which seems to be very applicable to the MEDEVAC issue. Many of the comments and frustrations with current practices include the sentiment "what the hell are they thinking?" . . . but from the various posts & dispatches I've read on this site & MEDEVACmatters, I think it's a case of not thinking, and instead just trying to keep the hierarchy from being questioned.

    Which is too bad, because in my own experience it's a lot easier to resolve a disagreement if it is a matter of personal dislike. It's the disagreements that are based entirely on "My authority and my judgment are not to be questioned, there is nothing personal about this" that are more difficult to deal with, Mr./Ms. Authority will only admit their mistake when they are so thoroughly beaten even other members of the hierarchy are publicly turning against them.

    Best of luck to both MEDEVACmatters and Michael Yon on this topic, it is very heartening to hear they are getting public support from members of Congress and private support from a number of military personnel. I think they can make a difference in this fight -- but I also think they are going to have to be stubborn as hell.
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    Dennis ODonnell · 6 years ago
    Im a Blue Star Dad. This horse**** infuriates me! Hearts and Minds my ass, get the wounded out progadanda be damned.
    thank you Michael.
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    Dang · 6 years ago
    OK - here goes - at the risk of being called an idiot, or whatever - here are a few facts:
    1. The AMEDD does NOT control the aircraft used for MEDICAL EVACUTION (DUSTOFF) - while the unit is commanded by a Medical Service Corps Officer - the parent unit (battalion and brigade) is an Aviation Unit - no longer an Evacuation Battalion. The Surgeon General is having part of the battlefield mission performed by another branch of the Army - the Aviation Branch.

    2. It's not about "my toys" - it's about ensuring that the "dedicated" aircraft is NOT being used for some air assault mission by the battalion when the "mass casualty" event occurs. Imagine if you called and the DUSTOFF unit commander looks around and ALL of his/her aircraft are gone somewhere else - just like the night SPC Clark died and a gunship wasn't ready. That's NOT protecting "our toys" it's maintaining the readiness of the mission so that when "you call" we can "haul ass to your aid." AND, remember that the Aviation Battalion and Brigade Commander often say if/when we can launch.

    3. Whether you take the crosses off or not, the parameters of the mission, the decisions of the PECC, and the factors involved in launch authority will STILL be the same and the potential for delay will still exist.

    4. The 92% survival rate is NOT fictitious - it's real and it's supportable. And, when you get beneath the data, it's probably better than that - but, I won't bore you with the data.

    5. Truth be known, the golden hour is trumped by the platinum 10 minutes - the first ten minutes after "boom" - yet, I do not hear any passionate cry to change that part of our support on the battlefield.

    6. I am just as passionate about saving lives as any of you bloggers - and I know that the system can and will be improved - never doubt that passion for saving lives - ever! I just happen to be able to view this from a wide variety of angles based upon 40 years in the business - you are welcome to your opinions - I respect your passion - the solutions just aren't ones that I happen to agree would change things in a measurable manner.

    Have a nice debate
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Dale Jelinek · 6 years ago
      Since some of your comments were directed to me, I will respond.

      1. In or around 2005 when the Army Aviation reorg happened control of MEDEVAC was given to Combat Aviation and the old MEDEVAC units were recast as Charlie Companies in the General Support Aviation Battalions. They were initially stripped of all support and maintenance assets and personnel which shrank their headcount by roughly half. They depended entirely upon GSAB resources to maintain their helicopters. I understand that some reversal of policy in this area may have resulted in the growth in headcount in the Charlie Companies. A good thing.

      The control AMEDD has over the helicopters is how they can be tasked. As long as those helicopters display Red Crosses, then the Combat Aviation command cannot use them for anything else under the terms of the Geneva Convention. As I understand it, AMEDD also controls the training and promotion of MEDEVAC pilots since they have a medical MOS, unlike GSAB or Combat pilots who function under different MOSs.

      2. Although Combat Aviation officers have last word on launches and flight circumstances, AMEDD keeps the MEDEVAC helicopters strictly reserved for MEDEVAC missions through insisting on the Red Crosses. I absolutely agree with that goal and result. The downside of this of course is that the MEDEVAC helicopters must fly unarmed. And that has consequences on launch timing in some cases and MEDEVAC crew safety. In my best world scenario, the MEDEVAC helicopters would be armed AND used exclusively for MEDEVAC missions. The devil is in the details on how to accomplish that.

      3. You skim over how some missions could be flown with two armed MEDEVAC helicopters serving as escort for one another, without waiting for a gunship escort.

      4. The details of the calculations are interesting. A wounded soldier who dies while waiting for MEDEVAC, or on the flight to a treatment facility is designated KIA. Once that soldier is handed over to the MTF, if he subsequently dies then he is classified Died of Wounds (DOW). There is more to it, but it is a subject for another time.

      5. You haven't read some of my teaser commentary about the lengthy delay in implementing Tactical Combat Casualty Care training throughout the Army. An internal Army report (in 2009 as I recall)concluded that had TC3 been implemented earlier in the decade at least 1000 American service men and women would have survived their wounds and be alive today (about 1 in or 1 in 4 at the time of the report). Some AMEDD physicians have been playing a role for years on the TC3 Committee under the DoD starting prior to the expansion of TC3 training and doctrine. Why the Ranger and SOF results from the battlefield about the effectiveness of TC3 training didn't produce changes sooner is one of my questions.

      Dang - I respect you and believe it is a matter of worldview that divides us - not goals.
      [out of space for now.]
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Epador · 6 years ago
        The evolution of the PEDRO and MEDEVAC organizations in two different military branches shows a clear difference attributable to the cultures of both the line and medical sides in each branch, and the nature of their conflicts and cooperations.

        Within the USAF, their Medical Corps DOES NOT INCLUDE the PEDRO units, who are line assets. The Pedro Mission is CSAR (which has been stretched and adapted to Medevac and even Casevac in theater). The PEDRO flight surgeons are assigned and answer to their line commanders, not the MC. (This is one benefit that the USAF FS enjoys when serving a true flight surgeon mission - they work for the line, not the MC) The flight crews of the helicopter and fixed wing aircraft are line assets. THIS IS WHY THEY WORK SO WELL AT THEIR MISSION.

        If you contrast this with how USAF medical assets, like the CCAT system, and Air Evacuation system have worked (or not) and evolved and adapted (too slowly at times), you will likely conclude that outside of SO, career medical military systems have an significant entropy and are especially prone to Peter Principal buffoonery.

        Even with the current restructuring, the USA MEDEVAC system does not engender a separate line company who have singular control over their assets AND have a singular mission - MEDEVAC. The current blended system encourages the AMEDD folks who have the MEDEVAC responsibility to try to retain some control over the MEDEVAC assets because they know full well the line will grab them for operations any chance they get. This entirely dysfunctional scenario pales the current RED CROSS brouh-ha-ha being dealt with here.

        What is needed is pure MEDIVAC units, with no other mission, as line assets with medical officers assigned to them and answerable only to their line commanders, as in the USAF.
        • This commment is unpublished.
          Dale Jelinek · 6 years ago
          Epador - you make some very good points. I am not familiar at all with the USAF structure relative to Pedro units and operations, but it sounds worthy of further reading and research.

          The Army Aviation situation that has split the MEDEVAC function certainly hasn't worked itself 6 or 7 years. I wonder at what point does someone say the experiment failed and a new approach must be tried?

          It is possible to see and understand the arguments on each side (AMEDD and Combat Aviation), but hoping these different worldviews and cultures will resolve through forced co-habitation is unrealistic. At root is the lack of adequate helicopter resources. If the combat commander had all the birds he felt he needed for offensive operations, then the prospect of armed MEDEVAC helicopters being commandeered would be non-existent. The MEDEVAC aircraft could be reserved exclusively for medical purposes and everyone would be happy.

          This is why the Red Cross brouh-ha-ha is seen as the critical issue in AMEDD and not a secondary issue. It is at the heart of the dysfunction - what will the helicopters be used for? There is a fundamental lack of trust that adequate resources will always be available for MEDEVAC under a plan that gives CAB absolute discretion on the tasking of the entire aircraft fleet.

          So, if a wand is waved and MEDEVAC is placed under the absolute control of CAB commanders, how would one structure the system to assure adequate MEDEVAC resources would always be available?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Popsi · 6 years ago
    The problem isn't the paint job, the problem is waiting around too long for a suitable 'escort' to show up.

    Those choppers could be painted polka dots for all it matters to the Taliban, who, if they're as wise as they seem to be, hunker down while the egg beaters go about their business. Red Cross or otherwise,for them there are NO friendly choppers buzzing around Afghanistan.

    If Allah puts one into a position where an effective rpg hit can be made - and that has happened to choppers transporting troops - not, as far as I know, to medevac choppers, well one would have to be significantly 'earthbound' to pass up the opportunity.

    Like the 'propaganda' of haji cheering everytime he sees a red cross go by because he knows 'why', the propaganda of somebody dying because of a paint job is equally specious - and essentially uproductive.

    Just another future excuse for the failure to win.
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    Eugene P Podrazik · 6 years ago
    Point #1: I'm rather surprised that this didn't register on the politically correct civilian leadership, maybe there's some propaganda value in flying helicopters with crosses against a Muslim adversary. Only, the propaganda would be more effective if it shot back.

    Point #2: From a medical standpoint, (my training as a surgeon, BTW) the best chance for survival is to get the wounded soldier on the operating table in the 'golden hour.' Don't waste time. Don't dither over stabilizing in the field. Fundamentally, scoop and run.

    Point #3: We seem to have forgotten what war is about. And, what makes the best propaganda impression on everyone. Winning. We win, they lose. Panetta, et al needs to realize that deploying superbly armed and trained soldiers is about just one fact; winning.

    Maybe, to get that point across, we need to hark back to 1941 when we had a Department of War. And, on December 8, 1941 Congress didn't 'authorize military force,' it declared war.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John House · 6 years ago
    Dang, you sound fairly educated on the issue. But I'm not as charitable as MEDEVACmatters.org, your arguments are hollow and he has accurately debunked them, especially on the matter of AMEDD control of assets. That is the critical issue, as everyone knows. Everyone also knows that Pentagon brass play turf wars behind our backs, it's a well-documented fact. It's why Spec Ops had such difficulty getting going, when regular Army didn't want to give up their turf to non-regular Army who didn't play by 'their' rules. Many books have been written on this subject and they constitute some enlightened reading.

    BTW, nobody ever said the 92% survival rate is fictitious. It may not be accurate, and that is easily proved. And it could definitely be improved. However, Michael has previously made the point that the 'Golden Hour' doesn't begins until the 9-line is received (or something to that effect), disregarding the time from impact to 9-line receipt. That deceptively ignores a critical time-frame element that should be addressed. But it is unrelated I believe, to your claim that someone has said that the 92% survival rate is fictitious.

    The defense in this issue is dedicated to employing your tactics, dodge and weave, throw out obstacles, never come right out and admit anything. The whole GC argument is bogus, yet it is central to the defense. And that is a house of cards. Don't stand too close to it because it will eventually come tumbling down.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MArk Veach · 6 years ago
    Thanks for the news from the front. Stay safe, be blessed. Your doing us a service.

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