- Published: Monday, 21 May 2012 12:42
Removing Red Crosses might help troops, but hurt Propaganda Campaign
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
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.
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
Approved by: COL Stewart