Michael's Dispatches

Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilot

26 January 2012

I am a Dustoff pilot (Instructor pilot) with over 1000 hours of combat time, and over 300+ combat medevac missions under my belt.  In 2004 (Iraq) we flew single ship, responding to thousands of medevac 9-line calls.  Not one helo shot down, but we sure got shot at a lot.  On a few occasions, we had to ask armed helos, who were out on missions, to divert and escort us into some hot areas.  On a few other occasions, we had the Air Force Pedros request to go along with us on missions. We responded quickly and efficiently.  When we got the call, we went.

When there were multiple casualties, we as crews made the call to launch more than one medevac bird to accommodate the number of patients.  No bureaucracy on launch authority or escorts.

Now, all medevac calls must go through channels, must be approved by commanders at battalion level or higher, must be escorted etc etc. This is what slows us down.

Some facts as I see it:

1.  With only 1 medic on the helo, we will NEVER take more than 2 critical patients.  More than that will overload the medic’s ability to treat the patients.  So arming medevac will NOT lower the ability of the Blackhawk helicopter to carry patients due to weight.  (Hawks in medevac configurations, typically launch at about 16K lbs, but have a max of 22k, so are they saying that guns and ammo weigh 5000+ pounds? Ridiculous.

2. Medevac can launch within 3-5 minutes of a call. Pedros always took at least 10 to get spooled up. [Note from Michael Yon: Pedro can go in about 6 mins.]  Apaches and Kiowas must sight in their systems and take at least 15 minutes to get up, assuming they are fully armed, fueled and ready to go.  So escorts always keep us waiting.

However, the biggest problem we face in combat today is not waiting for escort (though they are slow), it is not the Dustoff crews, it is the current command.  Commanders and their representatives (usually battle Captains on duty) are so worried about their careers being effected by enemy action, they will take any Dustoff call and send it so high up the chain of command (cover your ass) that it takes 30-45 minutes to just get launch approval.  This usually has little to do with our escorts.  We sometimes are all (medevac and escorts) ready to fly, but sit for 20 minutes for launch approval, because someone has to wake the general, brief him or her and then get approval for the mission.

So taking off the red cross, arming the medevac bird is a great thing, but will only solve half the problem.  We need commanders willing to allow the Dustoff crews to do their job, without multiple layers of approval for every mission.  We need to solve the problem of every commander having to fear for his career (or worse) over making decisions on the battlefield.  We need to empower the lower levels of command again instead of waiting for the generals to micromanage the entire war.


Separately, this comment was found under a dispatch:

RE: MEDEVAC Issue — Dustoffer

I'm a Dustoff pilot that returned from Afghanistan in April 2011. There is a launch criteria that we have to be off the ground within 15 minutes of the 9-line call. The problem is, we have to be approved by our battalion commander or the battle captain on duty to launch. There were several times we were sitting on the ground at REDCON 1 (100%) waiting to be told that we could launch. I actually launched my bird early once and proceeded to get an ass chewing once we returned via telephone. I honestly believe if I were closer to the flag pole, they would have relieved me of my position. I was about 6 hours away by air. Oh, and I launched at 15 minutes and some change.

To add injury to insult, approx. 70% of the missions I flew were MEDEVAC on MEDEVAC coverage. Meaning we had no gunship escort to the pickup site (one MEDEVAC aircraft covering another MEDEVAC aircraft).

There was more than one occasion that if we would have had mounted M249's or M240's we could have laid suppressive fire and/or engaged the threat. That is my personal and professional opinion. Unfortunately, my opinion doesn't matter.

This comment was found here.

And I strongly disagree with “my opinion doesn’t matter.”  The opinions of Dustoff and Pedro people are extremely important.  Dustoff and Pedro opinions carry the overwhelming weight of this fight.  The force behind all this is the Dustoff and Pedro communities.  Every morning they crack the whip.  I am only the public face.  My website is your website.  This is your microphone.


+16 # Thank You for Confirming the FactsFThomas 2012-01-26 06:06
"However, the biggest problem we face in combat today is not waiting for escort (though they are slow), it is not the "Dustoff crews, it is the current command. Commanders and their representatives (usually battle Captains on duty) are so worried about their careers being effected by enemy action, they will take any Dustoff call and send it so high up the chain of command (cover your ass) that it takes 30-45 minutes to just get launch approval."

This is exactly what I have been concerned about. The rear echelon - REMF's - in old military lingo are hampering the efforts of the MedeVac Operation in the theatre of operations today.

I was convinced that at the Unit Level that the MedeVac Crews held to the same high standards that I flew under stateside in a MAST unit flying in extremely dangerous weather and terrain. The above statements confirm that. As the Pilot In Command I had full discresion to accept and attempt the mission and we could be airborne in 5 minutes. We saved untold lives of those we were tasked to serve.

Thank you for your service and for confirming my belief and conviction that those crews flying MedeVac today hold the same high standards begun all the way back to Vietnam and Korea.
Reply | Report to administrator
+17 # SF RVN VETERANRon Rogers 2012-01-26 06:26
It's extremely important to hear from the pilots and crews who do the job. It is clear to me that it is policy that needs to change and not that something wasn't handled exactly "right" in a particular case. It appears that Afghanistan is layered in dysfunctional bureaucracy. If you read the report on the recent border incident, you will see that US/ISAF command complexity was a significant part of the problem, and yes; a general had to be awakened. With the abundance of generals, if a decision requires one, then one should be awake and on shift 24/7.

The contrast between Iraq and Afghanistan tells us that the longer our wars go on, the bigger and more cumbersome the bureaucracy becomes. But the scariest thing is that an officer can sit back in a headquarters and place his career ahead of a soldier bleeding on the battlefield. I cannot fathom how a soldier can let another soldier down like that.

The Command appears to be satisfied to meet the Golden Hour criterion *on average.* That is fallacious thinking. The question is not did I meet the average; rather, it is did I do the best that I could do? That is clearly the attitude of the Army and AF aircrews. It appears, however, the staff criteria is, "Did I meet the required average."

Decisions must be kept at the lowest level possible because those are the people closest to the situation on the ground. They know the enemy situation, the weather, and the patient's criticality. These facts don't change as the decision is pushed higher, but the perspective does.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # VN VetJoe Silvia 2012-01-27 20:49
Under what warped logic does it take a staff officer to determine if MEDIVAC assistance will be dispatched to a seriously injured soldier. If a soldier is wounded in the field does regulation require the unit medic to request permission of the CO to treat the soldier!! This is absurd. Besides a policy change on the arming and crosses being removed I never understood why Dustoff units didn't have their own gunships attached in the first place.
Reply | Report to administrator
+24 # America, The GreatDave Carlton 2012-01-26 06:27
One of the PRIMARY reasons for our military successes was always the ability of low level command to take the initiative and go do the right things.

This thread makes it sound like we are like some 3rd world country who is afraid to let our Sergents, Lieutenants, Captains and Majors make decisions and get a job thats needs to be done right now from being accomplished.

If we have to wake a general to make these kinds of decisions, then there is something seriously gone wrong with our command structure.
Reply | Report to administrator
+6 # RE: America, The GreatFThomas 2012-01-26 19:47
Quoting Dave Carlton:
One of the PRIMARY reasons for our military successes was always the ability of low level command to take the initiative and go do the right things.

This thread makes it sound like we are like some 3rd world country who is afraid to let our Sergents, Lieutenants, Captains and Majors make decisions and get a job thats needs to be done right now from being accomplished.

If we have to wake a general to make these kinds of decisions, then there is something seriously gone wrong with our command structure.

I couldn't agree with you more and was once placed in a position to explain to the Commanding General, as a Warrant Officer 1, why I had flown the mission I did. I informed him that his thoughts on requiring the "Offficer of the Day" to give a go ahead for a mission were useless.

The OAD had no experience and therefore ability to make that call. I also told him that with all due respect, he didn't either!
Reply | Report to administrator
+18 # And the plot just sickens...Heywood Jablomi 2012-01-26 06:38
Will politicians, bureaucrats, and ass-kissers ever finally be purged from the Army?

We have been at war for ten years! Is it not finally time to retire these pathetic slugs and replace them with warriors?

Please start with the current SMA (Sergeant-Major of the Army). He visits units and asks soldiers, "who is wearing their dog tags?" Anyone who is not wearing them is excoriated as an example of a "bad soldier," "lacking discipline." Rather than consider the combat experience of such men, he focuses on petty "indicators" that are, in the end analysis, meaningless.

This sort of conduct was a hallmark of some of the shittiest Command Sergeants Major to ever befoul an Army uniform. Most of them scurried for hiding holes when the wars began, or they retired. They were peacetime soldiers, not warriors. They were good at directing soldiers to paint rocks and mow grass, and they were exemplary at holding stupid, time-wasting inspections. They were not good at training soldiers for war. When the time came to go to war, they vanished.

Now that the cycle is turning again, and a period of peacetime looms, they are reappearing.

This is precisely the sort of jackass that needs to be evicted from the services. We are going to downsize. We must downsize. We need to downsize. Do not, for God's sake, leave idiots in positions of high trust. Kick them out.

Promote warriors!
Reply | Report to administrator
+12 # Finally the Truth Rears Its Ugly HeadGood Captain 2012-01-26 06:43
This is now beginning to make more sense to me. The Command structure (you can read that as bureaucracy if you want) sees this as a multiple threat. First, like any ambitious bureaucrat, the decision to launch is viewed by (at least some decision makers) as an exercise in potential personal career risk management, potentially delaying critical lifesaving treatment to those who have put it all on the line. This absurd conundrum of, "Do I potentially risk my career by sending a dust off quickly and give our servicemen/wome n the best chance of life or do I take the unrisky route and ask "senior management" for their opinion" often favors the bureaucrat over service members.

Secondly, these types of "life and death" legitimately frame the issue of whether or not these middle layers of bureaucrats really add sufficient value? If you eliminate these multiple layers of command, you effectively eliminate a vast number of opportunities for promotions and/or billets thus threatening "career growth".
Reply | Report to administrator
+14 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilotin_awe 2012-01-26 07:48
I have read Dustoff pilot comments about instances where Brigadier Generals are routinely involved in launch approvals and in one reported case it went to a 4 star general in Qatar. this sounds like the old Soviet Command and Control structure where nobody outside of a HQ was considered competent to make a decision.

What has happened to retaining decision-making and the lowest level possible - a historic advantage of the American military? In Vietnam pilots said sergeants were making launch decisions...or if they heard a MEDEVAC request they just flew it. Statistics compiled by the Royal Army Medical Corps shows that the mean time for a MEDEVAC has lengthened by more than a third since Vietnam - things have gotten slower over the past 40 years.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # MrRyden 2012-01-26 08:31
Wait, did I get that right? They sent unarmed helos to cover unarmed helos? How? Was the covering crew expected to use their pistols to provide covering fire, or were they there in case the first MEDEVAC got shot down? I'm not quite sure which one of those scenarios would be the most bizarre...
Reply | Report to administrator
+5 # RE: MrRyan Lackey 2012-01-26 21:35
A second unarmed medevac would be useful if the first aircraft went down for purely mechanical reasons, or was otherwise unable to continue mission. You could crossload crew and possibly casualties and continue, then call another force (ground QRF from a nearby base, a recovery contractor, CH-47, etc. to recover it or in extreme cases, an airstrike to destroy the aircraft).

Still arguably not as useful as an armed escort. A second medevac-configu red helicopter, armed or not, would have some other advantages; if one aircraft had to discontinue the mission, a single ship could finish the mission -- an apache would have a hard time continuing a mission to pick up a casualty if the medevac they were escorting went down.

Plus, if you are flying 2 medevacs, you might be willing to pick up some marginal lower category patients at the same time, vs. only picking up CAT A and leaving the rest to CASEVAC or ground evacuation. Having a larger total number of medevac helicopters also gives you more capacity in the case of mass casualties, patient transfers between medical treatment facilities, etc.

There are some decent arguments for dual ship medevac vs. medevac + armed escort missions independent of the overall armed vs. unarmed medevac argument. I am for armed medevacs flying single or dual ship missions, with occassional and opportunistic Apache escorts for particularly hot pickups, with the goal of never delaying a medevac mission unless it absolutely cannot be helped.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # Pilot VN DUSTOFF '64 '69Si Simmons 2012-01-27 07:28
In VN, it was all single ship missions --We'd call on gunships at times -- I found that a pair of gunships, at times, served as excellent decoys that would allow me to sneak in and out without being observed -- Accompanied helicopter noise, alone, is a definite DUSTOFF force multiplier -- and probably the best use of a 2nd helicopter --
Reply | Report to administrator
+17 # Staff/CommandMikeM 2012-01-26 11:47
When I was a Battle NCO in Eastern Afghanistan for GSAB Aviation task force, we launched innumerable MEDEVACS of all precedence. Launch authority for CAT-A patients (serious injuries) belonged to the TOC's Battle NCO - usually an E-5 Sergeant. My job was to immediately process the obvious risk factors and as long as the risk wasn't ungodly high, I launched every time. Even at times the risk was too high, I gave them the go ahead to at least launch, informing the PC that arms/further guidance would be closely behind; his discretion would be used. Only after the launch would I bother finding a staff officer/BN CDR for explicit approval, in some rare instances they'd reverse my decision. For lower level casualties, I had no problem making a Dustoff wait for approval - the risk wasn't always high enough to cowboy it up even though crews often thought that was the only thing going on in all of Afghanistan at the time.

But the fact that this pilot waited on launch approval while Redcon-1 for CAT-A's on the tarmac is a reflection on HIS unit's commanders and lack of trust in lower level staff. That wasn't mine or my unit's problem, so don't "copy/paste" this claim to all units.

I'm fully on board with some of the suggestions of Michael Yon and some other readers, but remember: when listening to an opinion, that's coming from one single, bias point of view... mine included. Don't frame everything as what happens in all instances, all units; you'll blur the real picture.
Reply | Report to administrator
+9 # Staff/CommandTony 2012-01-26 15:25
I agree with your point of view that the incident referred to by Mike Yon was indeed ONE incident and refers to one decision (or not) to launch.

The response by the Army (not just that unit) has been to use bluff and deception, citing Geneva Convention etc as their "excuse". The Army has made it an Army issue. Every argument that they have given has been dismissed as invalid or inaccurate.

I agree that, in this situation however, it reflects the lack of trust from above. My own personal biased opinion is that lack of trust and "CYOA" (cover your own a**) is a huge problem and responsibility should be handed to those closer to event.

Mike himself has clearly stated that other units and forces do not use the Red Cross and are armed. Why not the Army.

They cannot give a clear and valid response. This is criminal and why Mike has highlighted and pushed for a) publicity of the issue, b) resolving the issue in order to, c) save the lives of these brave young men.

My utmost respect goes to you for serving your country in war and having to make the bold decisions to save lives.

Maybe if there were more like you serving in the Army now and making the necessary decisions, we wouldn't be reading these reports from Mike.

To you, to all serving members of all armed forces and to Mike, Stay safe (through wisdom and awareness, not through beurocracy)
Reply | Report to administrator
+5 # Staff/CommandMikeM 2012-01-26 16:30

First thank you for the kind words. I'm more countering the Dustoff pilot's claims that Yon posted here. I'm fully behind Yon's mission of removing the crosses and adding the M240's, which is the cause to the effect (being the reasoning for the delay for rescuing Chazray).

This Dustoff pilot is essentially claiming that the bigger problem is the Aviation commanders and their staff is killing soldiers more so than these other problems (as he closes with). I don't know how much better or worst it has gotten since I was there, but the bureaucracy slowing responses goes away with:

1. Commanders that can put their ego away long enough to grab lunch without managing 100% of the battle

2. Competent staff (particularly CPT's and SGT's) that can be trusted to make these tough decisions in the absence of orders (it's right in the damned NCO creed).

Early on in my deployments, both factors were weren't in equilibrium, but as the Aviation unit settles, tactics are run by CPT's/SGT's more so.

This Dustoff pilot refers to this as an endemic problem, which it is not as far as my experiences pertain.
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # Staff/CommandTony 2012-01-26 18:39

I'm with you, and have total respect. As (I think I'm right in saying and which goes with your original post) You, I, Mike, and the majority of readers here, will have a modicum of sense and reality, and will be able to take every opinion "with a pinch of salt".

I cannot claim to have any knowledge of exactly why (or not) these decisions are made. I am not and soldier and never have been. I can only read opinions and make my own mind up.

I'm not saying that bureaucracy is endemic and claiming lives, but it appears that (from what I have read) it was the problem that allowed Chazray's recovery to be delayed for an unacceptable period.

When this was raised by Mike, the Army has backed itself into a corner like a wounded hyena and is snapping back with a misguided and often inaccurate fury.

That would indicate to me that the policy of marking and not arming DUSTOFFs has contributed to (not necessarily been the cause of) Chazray's death. They are embarrassed. But will not concede easily.

Ego has no place on a battlefield. Neither do lack of trust, bureaucracy and half a**ed policies that were dropped as irrelevent over 50 years ago by some forces.

I will end with agreeing with your original comment and re-iterate that the original comments are ONE opinion, (as are mine and yours) but counter with the argument that (in the context of the bigger picture that is unfolding here) it would appear to me as though it's not an isolated incident. Not necessarily endemic, but for one frustrated pilot and his crew it could well appear to be that way.

As I said in earlier post, Respect to you, and to all past, present and future warriors.

Stay Safe
Reply | Report to administrator
-1 # Bureauccrrrrrrr racy !Tchirpbird 2012-01-26 12:13
Isn't bureaucracy about "cover your ass" indeed,and BTW when DO THIS GOOD GENERALS sleep at all?? if they have to be awake ALL THE TIME by so many casualties...
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # Disgraceful!Frank 2012-01-26 12:33
Yup in this country no matter what your profession is, its CYA. Glad I'm not the person with a few holes in my gutt. Why is it always someone making aXXhole decision who is not in the fight.Battle Commanders should be ashamed! Get in the dam chopper and go. We have wounded. Screw this policy-making crap. The policy is you get a call you move out. Period!
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # Rc21Redcatcher 2012-01-26 13:03
While I agree we should lose the Red Cross and arm 'em up. The Med pilot that said we've never had one shot down is incorrect. We lost one in Iraq, on a two ship flight. 9 KIA. As a Metternich of fact that incident was the primary reason we put the Med birds in the CAB. RC21
Reply | Report to administrator
+7 # Same S#%T, Different DayScott Puckett 2012-01-26 14:51
It sounds like an age old problem. People at higher levels being more concerned with how making a decision will affect their career that in doing what is right.
Reply | Report to administrator
+4 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff PilotBarbara 2012-01-26 15:40
As the Mom of a Marine infantry officer who served in Iraq, and who lost his best friend there, it enrages me that these HEROES of ours are lying there in need of critical care while bureaucrats are "awakened to be consulted about permission to launch ??!!" What has happened to us ? How can this be changed?!!
Reply | Report to administrator
+4 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilotjamescgonzales 2012-01-26 17:02
However, the biggest problem we face in combat today is ... Commanders and their representatives ... will take any Dustoff call and send it so high up the chain of command ... that it takes 30-45 minutes to just get launch approval.
Wish I had known about this before I sent the letters to my congressional representatives.

Thanks for explaining the issues you are having. It helps us to understand what you are going through.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff PilotBarry Sheridan 2012-01-26 17:09
Reading this fits in well with my interpretation of the world in which we live. It staffed by gutless wonders forever frightened of the power wielded by those who should never have been promoted beyond a Corporal. Umm wait a minute, wasn't some past warmonger a former corporal!
Anyway the current situation is outrageous, but I bet matters would soon change if the powers that be were in the firing line. The trouble is of course they make sure they keep out of the way, too busy making up rules to do anything useful. Pathetic.
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # NCOs and Battle CaptainsRon Rogers 2012-01-26 19:46
One of our best contributions just came from "Mike M" an articulate and responsible E-5 Battle NCO. He wasn't afraid to make decisions and he was only overruled a few times by the BN CDR - after the fact.The Battle NCO and Battle Captain are there in the TOC for a reason. They are there to make decisions and support troops in contact. They are not there to pass this responsibility up the chain.
We must train, use, and respect them. By the same token, if anyone passes a decision up the chain for no good reason; they should be penalized.

Too many officers on division and brigade staffs have little to do and try to insert themselves into decision-making where they are not needed.

So we have two problems: improper aircraft markings and configuration and a growing number of officers afraid to take on the responsibilitie s normally associated with their positions.
Reply | Report to administrator
# Micromanage the war???Bill Dettmer 2012-01-26 18:31
Who??? Our field-graders?? !! No! Heaven forfend!

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Lt. Col. USAF-ret (Vietnam veteran)
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # Micromanage the war???Ron Rogers 2012-01-29 02:54
On another blog about Afghanistan in general, it has been observed that this is a platoon level war. This means that there are Brigade and DIV level field grade officers with little to do. On the blog, Afghan officers and NCOs say that these guys unnecessarily insert themselves into decision making that is easily at BN level an below. Throw in ISAF approvals and you really have a bureaucratic mess. Since all these people are risk averse, they often just kick it upstairs and involve even more remote officers.
Reply | Report to administrator
-7 # MrSerge 2012-01-26 18:52
The current situation only proves that all war are immoral, had been started under false pretext, and make the rank-and-file soldiers the end losers after all. This is why it is important to make every soldier understand it and equip him not with weapons to kill innocents but with knowledge of how not to be used by the military and how to resist military propaganda. The war is a hoax! Let the banksters and their offspring fight for themselves!!
Reply | Report to administrator
# CW4 AVN Ret.Flytiger 2012-01-27 20:11
Just because you sound stupid dosn't mean you arn't stupid stupid
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # About time !WYO D.A. 2012-01-26 19:17
Good to see that the biggest line of bull comes out. The Fact #1 listed above:

1. With only 1 medic on the helo, we will NEVER take more than 2 critical patients. More than that will overload the medic’s ability to treat the patients. So arming medevac will NOT lower the ability of the Blackhawk helicopter to carry patients due to weight. (Hawks in medevac configurations, typically launch at about 16K lbs, but have a max of 22k, so are they saying that guns and ammo weigh 5000+ pounds? Ridiculous.

I also like the comment stated by the Dustoffer :

There was more than one occasion that if we would have had mounted M249's or M240's we could have laid suppressive fire and/or engaged the threat. That is my personal and professional opinion. Unfortunately, my opinion doesn't matter.

If you want the truth and the facts, take from the men and women who actually do the job, not some pompus ass that has brass instead of stripes.
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # RE: About time !Ryan Lackey 2012-01-26 21:38
Aircraft in much of Afghanistan (especially RC-East) are derated for weight due to the hot temperatures and high altitudes (either alone is bad; both together is a major problem) -- that's why CH-47s are so much more used in Afghanistan than UH-60s.

Even if the base and the casualty are both are reasonable altitudes, it is common to have to traverse very high saddles in the mountains enroute. The highest altitude largely governs the weight allowed for the mission.

This wasn't an issue in Iraq -- it was hot, sure, but everything was pretty low altitude, with no pesky mountains between every valley.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # Patriot PromotionsJill Trammell 2012-01-26 20:51
Thank you for telling it like it is...even when its difficult to put into words. Power of the pen...and the lens, is great. I salute you and am here to promote everyone like you. God Bless and keep you all safe.
Reply | Report to administrator
-2 # SadnessDarren Stewart 2012-01-26 21:46
I have the greatest respect for Alliance soldiers of every country, and all they do.

But really? Put over a barrel and not lifting off until some 12 star general finally says so.

Dear Dust off pilots, Please get together, and make the choice to go. If the army grounds you, and the next guys lifts off the same way, they can't ground you all.

At the end of the day, orders may be orders, but following bad orders - in this case leaving men on the ground dying because of stupid politics requires bad orders to be defied. I doubt I personally would sit on the pad waiting. I'd take the ass chewing, grounding, court marshal first before accepting this. I think I'd rather be bust down to nothing and be thrown out than simply accept that.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # Stick WigglerGerryAtrickPilot 2012-01-27 13:58
We have a plan in place. Our boys have our phone numbers and frequencies. If they need us urgently they know to call direct and we'll come get 'em regardless of the consequences. The only difference between a medal and an Article 15 is the opinion of the first commander to get wind of it.
Reply | Report to administrator
# Sgt GSgt G 2012-01-27 14:50
"Dear Dust off pilots, Please get together, and make the choice to go. If the army grounds you..."

They can do far worse than ground them all. I understand the sentiment but "getting together" to disregard your chain of command is called Mutiny. You can be shot for that, remember?

Art. 94. (§ 894.) 2004 Mutiny or Sedition.
(a) Any person subject to this code (chapter) who—
(1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny;
(2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition;
(3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition.
(b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # ROE BSJeff Callender 2012-01-26 23:06
This is another example of completely irrational ROE (RUles of Engagement)that have been established by the politicallt correct crowd. The word I get is that the first though in the chain of command is not whether to save a life, but whether my order will conform with the ROE. I heard of a two tour-Bronze Star Marine Lt. who is being run out of the Corps because he authorized shooting a fleeing tractor to stop bad guys getting away. Not shooting a person or innocents, but a freaking tractor. This is far worse than Nam ROE and it's like "Miss Manners runs a war"
Reply | Report to administrator
# Our CommentsFrank 2012-01-27 01:01
These comments should be sent to?
(a) News Media
(b) Politicians
(c) Military Brass
(d) All of the above
Reply | Report to administrator
# NONE-line = NOT REAL OFFICERSJB 2012-01-27 02:23
What you guys are missing here is the fact that mother army has take people that have no combat military skills and slapped rank on them to give them enough pay so they will avoid all those massive bills and such associated with Running your OWN practice. Imagine NO Malpractice, no overhead, trained and ready staff.... the list goes on.
Well these people have given the LINE officers a taste of the good life on the side of raping the system for personal gain. Most of the Stars and Birds never spent a minute in combat ( even though #400 in line busting up a house was Mac Daddy Chrystal, yup Mr teflon acting like one of the boys) They are looking for the easy life and these taxis give it to them. Its going to be REALLY hard to Pull it away from them.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff PilotKurt Olney 2012-01-27 03:25
In the military, fear is instilled from the top down. If ranking officers fear more for their career and making their superior look good than fighting for the soldier on the line, it is a terrible thing and goes against the oath and creed of the United States Army. The uniform does not give ranking officers the right to do wrong.
Reply | Report to administrator
-1 # oh damn..Bryan Andrew 2012-01-27 04:04
I take what that Fighter says over anything else at this point. I have no reason to doubt him. I can and can not believe that there are armchair quarterbacks that will think of their career before they think of another warfighters life. If you want to solve this problem, quit reprimanding them for doing their job that they trained to do! Dont teach a horse to run then tell him to walk. Generals, it's in your hands. Lead your Men and Women.
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff PilotBob Burrichter 2012-01-27 13:36
Do SOPs change with the change of each administration in Washington? Cheney, Rumsfelt, Gates. Bush Pres. to the current Administration?
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # Happened BeforeGerryAtrickPilot 2012-01-27 15:33
This has all happened before. Fortunately Mr Yon was there with a camera this time. Read the second letter at the link below.

Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # MND-NMikeM 2012-01-27 16:09
Nearly at the same time of that story (early-mid 2006 though), we (a GSAB) were in MND-N based out of Balad. The MEDEVAC unit attached to us were even doing POI's single ship...sharp contrast to rules he had to follow. Now single ship is a bad idea for Afghanistan, but they flew without Apache escort more often than he did or anybody does now. Just shows that at that time at least, rules varied from unit to unit. We at the Battalion level didn't even fully monitor MEDEVAC operations until later on, and we still rarely put hands on.

There's something to be said about putting it under either command though. Putting it under the GSAB means that emphisis on what to task the MED birds to can be more efficient. At the GSAB level, you can say no to a "Priority" level mission that can legitimately wait for 4 hours or so knowing there's a very high danger mission going on that you can safely assume will yield an "Urgent" patient any moment. The GSAB staff guy will hold that Priority mission for a bit in order to be postured for potential Urgent any day of the week.

So as you see, there's advantages and disadvantages to placing their tasking under any command.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # RE: MND-NMikeM 2012-01-27 16:13
What I meant to add to my second paragraph there is, the GSAB level has a broader picture of the battle field that can save lives.

On the flip side, you can have inefficient commanders/staf fs at the GSAB level that can delay Urgent launches.

It will always come down to commander's trust in their low level staff and that low level's staff efficiency.... something that definitely varies from unit-to-unit AND within each unit from time-to-time. No different than the business world, just higher stakes.
Reply | Report to administrator
# GerryAtrickMichael Yon Author 2012-01-27 19:00
Thank you for that link. Just published it. Good catch.
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff PilotR. Devereux Slingluf 2012-01-27 17:23
I find this the height of political interference in the safety of men and women we send into danger. Given the history of politics, it does not surprise me. I was a FMF Hospital Corpsman and served at the platoon level in Vietnam, 1969. There was no Marine or Corpsman to my knowlege. who drew attention to themselves by wearing any identifying item apart from that which was worn by every other Marine. This was self preservation as the enemy paid no heed to any rule of civilized war (An oxymoron). Only a politically motivated person who had little or no concern for the safety of combatants would order anything contrary. Either that or acting after a frontal lobotomy.

Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # JTJack T 2012-01-28 21:23
As both a former MEDEVAC pilot and Staff Officer that served multiple tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan I believe I have a unique perspective that bridges both Dustoff and HQ. First, I should state that I too seethe with anger at the apparent mismanagement of the MEDEVAC that caused this Solider his life. However, I do not think that the right answer simply lies in either arming all of the MEDEVACs or in placing the responsibility for launching MEDEVACs squarely on the shoulders of the PICs. MEDEVAC needs to continue to focus on only one duty and responsibility on the battlefield and that is to recover the wounded and conduct medical evacuation and movement of critical supplies as required. Arming these aircraft will only lead to ground forces asking for them to suppress enemy positions and possibly bring them into even more compromising locations with the belief that they have an offensive capability. This is simply not the case. I have also served in a joint TF that had “Pedro” assets assigned and although these are the same airframe the systems and capabilities are significantly different. The firepower of an electrically driven mini-gun or .50 cal M2 is significantly different than the firepower produced by a M240H (the weapon of use on US Army UH-60s).
Reply | Report to administrator
# RE: JTSi Simmons 2012-02-02 06:53
I agree -- DUSTOFF depends upon the pilots' maneuver tactics to effect an evac -- using accompanied armed or unarmed helicopters/fix ed wings as decoys helps --

Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # JTJack T 2012-01-28 21:23
One solution is to simply place a standard UH-60A/L/M with M240H armament on first up with a MEDEVAC aircraft if the only issue is to launch an escort that is armed. This would also increase the number of MEDEVAC aircraft available for the specific AO as you would not “spend” two MEDEVACs on one mission. One must keep in mind that multiple calls for MEDEVAC can and do occur and there is a limit to the number of assets available. There is also a significant difference between Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of operational weights and the environment. Placing on weapons and ammunition can weigh a hundred plus pounds, and this can become an issue at the altitudes and temperatures in Afghanistan especially on precarious cliff landings, or hovering OGE for hoist operations. Iraq was also different as there were US forces in close proximity to almost all locations to include the enroute portions of a MEDEVAC lowering the risk for an escort ship. There was also 24 hour coverage most times of AH-64s nearby and could be easily retasked if necessary. From this account and past experience AH-64s are spread thin in Afghanistan due to the increased distances between operations. Recovery can and does take significant period of time if an aircraft needs to land in enroute due to mechanical issues. An escort aircraft not only provides security, it can assist in communications, or possibly self-recover the crew.
Reply | Report to administrator
+3 # JTJack T 2012-01-28 21:25
As to the issue of who is able to decide if and when to launch I feel it is necessary to point out that some discretion is needed. Although this case appears to be a simple immediate launch, I have witnessed commander’s in the field calling in Urgent Surgical on the 9-line to have a patient walk up to the aircraft under their own power upon arrival. Who cares, you ask? Well during that period you started a duty day, brought on a second crew to cover the AO during their absence at base, and most importantly possibly delayed the pickup of other patients at other locations in a higher critical state. This is not to state that a higher level HQ needs to oversee all assets, but someone with an overall understanding of the battlefield and its demands needs to ensure that all patients on a battlefield receive the very best chances to be recovered in a timely manner. We’ve also failed to mention or discuss the issues dealing with duty day, maintenance, second up, crew rest, standby due to higher priority missions, the general shortage of aviation assets (especially rotor-wing) in theatre. This was a tragic incident and individuals need to be held accountable for their actions. I also agree that a review of MEDEVAC procedures would be helpful in ensuring that assets are being employed at the lowest levels possible that have some C2 of their overall responsible AO. However, I do not believe that simply arming MEDEVACs will make this a non-issue. The true issue is due to concerns of risk and a general culture of risk adversity throughout the military and especially the Army. This is the true issue that needs to be addressed. Side Note: Michael Yon I do enjoy your work and hope you continue to report what you see and how you see it. JT
Reply | Report to administrator
-1 # RE: JTRon Rogers 2012-01-28 22:20
Jack T, I was expecting more insight and a recommendation. Frankly, you sound like some of the bland offical responses that have been coming from various echelons of the Army. The fact that one commander (MCO, LT, CPT, LTC?) lied on his 9-line and exaggerated the urgency of a request does not mean there is any benefit in having these requests reviewed by higher and higher staffs. That's very poor thinking.

first, the pilot or receiving medical facility should report the falsified 9-line as it could have cost another soldier his life. The aviation unit CO or the medical unit CO should inform the batttlespace owner, usually a brigade CDR, that he needs to perform a headspace adjustment on one of his subordinates.

Decisions to release aviation assets should not have to rise above that battlespace owner. There is no reason on earth why MEDEVAC coppers can't mount M240's as a minimum. There is no longer a reason for there to be a shortage of rotary-wing assets in Afghanistan.
Reply | Report to administrator
-2 # RE: JTRon Rogers 2012-01-28 22:40
This issue, as so many have said, is bigger than a single incident. Jack T wants to find the person(s) responsible. Funny, that's what the Army is doing - investigating the incident. Thus, the Army ignores examining the real issue, a foolish Army policy. Rather, let's hang somebody - typical.

There is another way to examine this policy. What if all Army MEDEVAC helicopters were Pedros instead of slick Blackhawks? Well, first we wouldn't have to wait for an armed escort and we would still probably fly two ship formations. BUT, no Apache or Kiowa helicopters would have to be diverted from direct CAS missions. So, two ship evacs instead of three or four ship flights. We would be saving airframes and blade time (maintenance) at low cost. Most importantly no delays and no staff officers switching thumbs and calling higher. It has been my experience that pilots in this business are not risk averse. Finally, take major aviation unit staffs and commanders out of the decision making chain. The assets would be assigned (chopped) to the battlespace commander until rotated back to the aviation unit.

Result - shorter response times and lives saved - period.
Reply | Report to administrator
# RE: RE: JTin_awe 2012-01-28 22:54
I agree with arming the MEDEVAC birds, but the HH-60 Pavehawk (Pedro) is way too tricked out for normal MEDEVAC functions. It is Special Forces capable and costs a multiple of what even the latest UH-60 MEDEVAC costs. Dustoff pilots don't want or need a Starfighter - just some good mini-guns or machine guns (the debate rages between M2 50 cal and the lighter standard M240 gun).
Reply | Report to administrator
# JTJack T 2012-01-29 01:47
In response to Ron Rogers: Misidentifying the urgency of MEDEVAC occurs more often than you would expect and actions taken afterwards do little in punishing perpetrators as oftentimes they are BN and BDE level leadership that refuse to acknowledge their errors. As to fielding all MH-60 "PEDRO" helicopters for MEDEVAC I would fully agree, but that is a solution that is not going to occur in the near future. Are you not aware of how the aquisition system works? Cutting aviation forces directly to the ground force appears at first to solve the issue, but most are poorly informed as to how to best utilize their assets. I have been tasked org directly to GFCs for extended periods and always ran into issues in understanding maintenance issues, wx minimums, duty day regulations, and general capabilities. There are also the issues of maintaining currency, check-rides, and general support. Cut a slice of maintainers out of the AVUM to support on site and now you have less maintenance to support the rest of the flights conducting support for TICs, resupply, assault, etc. The issue will then turn on the finite number of assets. I am somewhat offended that I left you under the impression that I fully agree with current policy. I never stated that. Instead I offered a simple solution of pairing off a UH-60A/L full time from the assault battalion to support. In most cases these aircraft are underutilized in Afghanistan and do little in impacting the OPTEMPO of the CAB or the desired effects to the BSO. It also increases MEDEVAC coverage. What is really the issue continues to risk adversion. You're right, the vast majority of pilots are not risk adverse, but they do not hold risk authority, that is left to the commanders (of course commanders that are also pilots may hold this distinction). MEDEVAC is pre-briefed to a certain level prior to taking their shift. This may include a decrease of wx minimums, threat, or any multitude of events that may increase risk.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # Assignming AssetsRon Rogers 2012-01-29 02:35
Jack T, I just meant for the timer that the two MH-60s are sitting at their forward position. I*assume* that one would assign/attach these assets no lower than Brigade, unless there was a specific operation underway in a BN AO. Then they would forward deploy, but remain a Brigade asset. I assume that they would physically rotate back at the end of a predetermined 8 or 12 hour period to be replace by two more choppers. I'm thinking that you cannot have any hard and fast rules for deployment because of terrain and AO differences. My other assumption is that the op tempo in any given AO is about the same as another. However, it is certain that the number of IED incidents in one area could be significant different from one AO to another. So, we can't treat MEDEVAX assets like CONUS ambulances where they are usually equally distributed by land area. This is where thought and staff planning is most important - the geographic allocation of aviation assets.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # JTJack T 2012-01-29 01:59
I'm going to guess that what really occured in the Aviation TOC is that the risk level of this mission was deemed higher than what was originally decided upon the crew beginning their mission day. A BDE or DIV JOC most likely monitored the IED blast and actions that occurred on the ground and "determined" that the risk to send a MEDEVAC had been elevated due to enemy disposition. They most likely quickly sent word that this event required support from additional assets, i.e. AH-64, OH-58, etc. Most likely the able young Battle NCO on the desk that night was already trying to get crews ready to go and trying to divery aircraft to meet up enroute. For some reason there were no a/c up and in the AO. Perhaps they were on a different misison far way, maybe they didn't have the fuel to get to site and to get back, there is a multitude of reasons. Even if the HH-60 was armed with a M240H, I bet the higher command would still have not let it launch because these weapons are not as impressive as this blog would let you think. Therefore, the arming of the HH-60 would do little in the timing of this MEDEVAC. Instead we should focus our efforts on the risk aversion of our higher headquarters. The solution cannot simply to always be to let the pilots decide...I agree with this to a point, but taking unecessary risks places even more people in jeopardy. Instead I would argue to push risk authority to include high risk (usually reserved at DIV CDR level) down to BN CDRs. That would have allowed that BTL NCO on that night to simply wake either the BN CDR or his FG representative and ask permission. If this TOC works as most I have seen one of these individuals was on duty and probably abreast of the situation and was ready to make the decision with the knowledge present. Sure, place some weapons on MEDEVAC, and cover their crosses. I do not have some type loyalty to current regulations, but from past expereinces in the helo and in the TOC it will NOT solve this issue.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # CONFUSING EMAILRon Rogers 2012-01-29 02:21
I got a notice saying there was a new post and I can't find it here. So I'll respond here. The writer was discussing the actual threat on the LZ and that higher HQ (staff?) felt that an IED might mean the overall threat in the area made the area hot whereas the 9-line clearly states that the LZ was "cold."

It is important to understand that in this incident, the [censored] battalion commander is standing erect on the LZ and he has determined that the LZ is cold. I am not interested in what any staff officer at BDE thinks or at DIV if there is one. If the BDE commander questions the judgement of this BN commander, he should get on the horn and ask him. But, time is a wasting and this is bullshit. It is arrogant for any staff officer to impose his judgement on a superior who is a commander. If an S-3 (and I was one) thinks that a subordinate commander's judgement is flawed, he had better get the Brigade commander involved because if I was the BN CDR; when I got back I would do more than kick his ass.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # JTJack T 2012-01-29 02:45
Ron, I agree with you. I don't understand your hostility towards the post. I am simply putting forth some of the experiences that I have witnessed over the course of several deployments. I would also like to know how you, as a battalion S-3, would impact the decision making process, when it is out of your hands. If high risk authority is withheld at DIV CMD, and the DIV JOC determines the risk as higher, you have no recourse, but to launch a complaint up the chain of command. This incident is a tragedy, but again, I am attempting to emphasize that the issue is not arming some MEDEVAC, but working through how MEDEVAC are employed and how risk aversity causes issues within the deployed force. We could put this issue to rest if we could get the complete MiRC chat to include the private ones that went between the aviation task force and the higher level commands. If the issue truly wasn't a maintenance delay as per the report Yon posted, I bet it was due to a higher level of risk.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # I SAID IT WAS CONFUSINGRon Rogers 2012-01-29 03:29
Jack T, The post I was trying to reply to was relatively short and devoted to questioning the assessment of the LZ in light of their having been an IED in the area. I felt that the presence of an *experienced* BN CDR on the LZ should be the ruling opinion. I am also obviously misinformed. First, I thought that a DIV HQ was acting as a regional command. I thought that the only way that these decisions would rise to that level would be for the BN or BDE S-3 to “kick it upstairs” owing to risk adversity. If it is SOP for these questions to rise to that level, then I’m at a loss. As an O-4 S-3 at BN or BDE, I would get my boss involved and recommend that he call his boss directly and that he back his subordinate commander to the hilt. As an O-5 BN CDR, I would be talking to the relevant decision makers directly from the LZ, IF I were aware that there was a delay. However, in this incident, he had been misinformed by higher and did not know there was a delay.

The grim reality is that no one is likely to be able to ascertain whether the Taliban have set up a sophisticated ambush – even with overhead IR surveillance. That surveillance was present (but off-center) where the SEALs in that Chinook were shot down. So, going higher in the chain is unlikely to better develop the situation. But, I’m forced to contrast this with RVN where it was degrees of warmth and usually the pilots came in knowing how bad it was going to be and came anyway. That’s why we switched to armored seats. I wish that we could slap some armor on today’s helicopter skins like the old Jolly Greens. What can I say, things have changed.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # Rocket Strike delayMichael Yon Author 2012-01-29 03:10
The day after Chazray was lost, on the same mission, I made video of a GMLRS strike on a known enemy position that was known to be vacant of civilians and thought to be vacant of enemy, other than some more bombs. Took more than 24 hrs to get the strike approved, while we waited like sitting ducks. Finally another Soldier (ANA) stepped on a bomb and blew him to pieces. Then finally came the GMLRS strike and we went to same LZ Chazray went out on and we flew back to Pasab that night. (Other LZs too dangerous.)
Reply | Report to administrator
-1 # Complete FailMichael Yon Author 2012-01-29 03:29
The sad reality is that the Army fails miserably by comparison to Air Force in every key category. Pedro launches faster. Has more medics who are as highly trained, and in many cases better trained. Pedro is armed and does not suck away assets. Pedro is a dedicated platform is not tasked out as a gun platform. (Army generals come with lame excuses that they have no control of their birds if red crosses are removed. Any commander who holds that position should be retired. Sounds like BG Daniel Menard who could not guard a bridge. No respect for washy commanders.) Army MEDEVAC policy is a bloody disaster and the product of weak leadership.
Reply | Report to administrator
# DUSTOFF v PEDRO v British Medical TransportHN 2012-02-16 20:30
PEDRO launches faster? I would like to ask for supporting data for that statement. Any category A point of injury 9-line has a required 15 minute launch once MISSION AUTHORITY has been granted per US Military Doctrine. Mission Authority is what needs to investigated not Launch Authority.
DUSTOFF does not have MISSION Authority, nor does PEDRO. That comes from the Patient Evacuation Coordination Center (PECC). Mission Authority is where we need to be looking.
Air Force does not have "Medics". The Air Force Pararescuemen (PJs) are highly trained in personnel recovery. They are in theatre for Combat Search and Rescue, not MEDEVAC. While the PJs training is far superior to that of the Army Flight Medic, they are trained for two very different missions. I encourage further education on the difference between the two and their mission before making blanket statements comparing the Air Force Pararescuemen and the Army Flight Medic.
If you really want to see how MEDEVAC/CASEVAC should be done, look into how the British program works. Their flight crews and medical assets are far superior to that of PEDRO and DUSTOFF. No need to re-invent the wheel, just learn from other successful programs.
Reply | Report to administrator
# PJ MEDICAL TRAININGRon Rogers 2012-02-16 21:51
Pararescue EMT-Paramedic Training, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico - 22 weeks

This course teaches how to manage trauma patients prior to evacuation and provide emergency medical treatment. Phase I is 4 weeks of emergency medical technician basic (EMT-B) training. Phase II lasts 20 weeks and provides instruction in minor field surgery, pharmacology, combat trauma management, advanced airway management and military evacuation procedures. The airmen are then sent to Tucson, Arizona for hands-on medical training. Trainees work along side paramedics with the Tucson Fire Department as well as local hospitals. Graduates of the course are awarded National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians-Par amedic (NREMT-P) certification.

Army Flight Medic training is a 4 week course for existing Army medics. It is similar to portions of the AF course. They are trainined to the same EMT standard as the AF, but are not EMT certified.
All Army medical skill competencies are at the EMT-Intermediat e / Paramedic level. All tasks encompass skill levels 1, 2, 3, and 4 soldiers.

The Air Force training is more adult trauma oriented while the Army Flight Medic gets broader training to include pediatric care.

Michael was on a Pedro that took off in between 5 and 6 minutes. A Pedro pilot confirms this timing on this blog.

You are correct that a lot of this problem lies with the PECC which is staffed by the unqualified second-guessing the on scene commander and the TOC Battle NCO or BATTLE Captain. The battlespace owner at BN and BDE level are in the best position to assess the threat-level in their AO. No one higher should have meaningful input on threat.
Reply | Report to administrator
# Dustoff v Pedro v MERTin_awe 2012-02-17 00:54
A Blackhawk launches faster than a Apache due to the extra time it takes the weapons systems on the Apache to be flight ready.

AF pararescuemen are paramedics and most have some trauma training stateside as well. That exceeds the training of the average Army flight medic - in fact just two weeks ago the AMEDD announced that it will upgrade the training of incoming medic trainees to get closer to that of the pararescuemen.

MERT and MERT-Enhanced do generally fly with more highly trained medical personnel and in of itself the CH-47 used is considered a Role 2 medical treatment facility. Technically, under NATO guidelines the "golden hour" clock could stop ticking when a casualty is brought on board the CH-47. The Chinook is also fitted with machine guns or mini-guns on each side and on the rear ramp for protection. MERT can also bring along a security squad of troops for extra LZ protection.

The shortcomings of the MERT model is the Chinook takes longer to runup than does a Blackhawk and is slower to reach cruising speed. (Once at cruising speed it can outfly - speed and altitude - most if not all helicopters in Afghanistan). It is a mighty big target when taking off and landing, so the usual practice is for the MERT copter to land some distance away and have casualties transported to it. This obviously can add time and logistical challenges when crossing IED strewn fields and roads. It also has been documented that Pedros have been called in several times when MERT missions could not land close enough - or in one well documented case when wounded British troops were caught in a minefield. Pedros were called in by the MERT crew and the pararescuemen were winched down, attended to the wounded, winched them and their comrades up in a series of sessions and then were lifted out themselves at the end.

The Brits have undertaken a lot of self-examinatio n from the early days experience in Afghanistan which was not so successful.
Reply | Report to administrator
# In awe is right when referring to PJs.Ron Rogers 2012-02-17 02:21
90% of PJ candidates flunk out. They are basically superman in camo. When the President flies, PJ
units both Active and Reserve are spaced-out along the route. That should tell you something. I used to jump with them and they have to practice jumping into trees like smoke jumpers. Their record in North Vietnam is legendary. Because of their talents, they sometimes go on other Service's SOF mission. They are truly unique.Their creed:

"t is my duty as a Pararescueman to save lives and to aid the injured. I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently, placing these duties before personal desires and comforts. These things I do, that others may live."
Reply | Report to administrator
# RE: In awe is right when referring to PJs.HN 2012-02-17 16:23
I feel like I should clarify some of what I originally intended to say.
- MERT has a the same launch requirement during daylight hours and a slightly extended requirement during night hours. So the statement "The shortcomings of the MERT model is the Chinook takes longer to runup than does a Blackhawk" is incorrect. I have been on DUSTOFF missions where we launched within 6 minutes as well.
- I absolutely agree that the AF Pararescuemen's medical training far excedes that of the Army Flight Medic. Having worked with and trained Army Flight Medics and Air Force Pararescuemen, I am well aware of what each of their capabilities are. What I feel is not being communicated is that the PJ is not in theatre for the MEDEVAC mission. In fact, some sources are implying that they will be pulled from the standard MEDEVAC/CASEVAC mission to be available for their PR mission.
- The question I have is what are you really debating? Is it launch capability? Medical treatment team capability? Pilot capability? And where is your data to back up your statements?
Are you simply trying to get rid of the "red cross" and allow medical assets to fly as CASEVAC only? I feel that a large part of the discussion on this webpage is in realtion to GETTING THE AIRCRAFT TO THE POINT OF INJURY. As a member of the military medical community I would like to know what is your end game?
Reply | Report to administrator
# Goalsin_awe 2012-02-17 17:33
HN - thank you for your service.

The Army underdeployed MEDEVAC copters in Afghanistan & mission times exceeded the "Golden Hour". Sec'y Gates ordered that MEDEVAC missions be measured against a 60 minute metric. To help achieve that he also ordered Pedros be integrated into the MEDEVAC mission.

I'll guess that Pedro MEDEVAC missions are flown in a ratio of x00:1 against CSAR for downed pilots. Functionally they are now MEDEVAC with CSAR as a secondary mission based on actual missions flown.

Why should Pedros sit idle waiting for a PR call when they can be actively recovering wounded ground troops?

GOAL: minutes matter in MEDEVAC - get help to the wounded as fast as possible. How that is achieved is not linear - there are a lot of interconnected pieces that need to change. Remove time sinks anywhere in the whole process related to MEDEVAC missions

Just as there a lot of issues, there are many ways to make progress.
- remove the red crosses and arm the Army's MEDEVAC helicopters
- adjust the mission approval and asset selection criteria to allow greater flexibility in responding to MEDEVAC calls

Re training:
- since at least 1999 AMEDD has been publishing journal articles every few years by its staff stating the need to improve combat and flight medic training. After 13 years, AMEDD said two weeks ago training for new medics will be upgraded.
- stats reportedly show that Reserve/NG MEDEVAC units have the best survival rates due to the training level and experience of their medical crews
- a lot of the argument against Pedro in the last 4 months centered around Army medics being better trained than the pararescuemen. Funny how AMEDD is now seeking to match their training in medics.

CASEVAC vs MEDEVAC is a dead end discussion. Pedros fly Cat A MEDEVAC missions per the JCS own document. Arm MEDEVAC copters and let 'em fly their missions.
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff PilotSi Simmons 2012-02-02 06:42
Reply | Report to administrator
+2 # More articles appearing on the MEDEVAC ScandalMichael Yon Author 2012-02-02 06:55
More traction. Not mentioned is that HASC will soon confront SecDef on the issue.

Another piece just appeared in New York Post:

Reply | Report to administrator
# RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff PilotHN 2012-02-17 18:08
- "Functionally they are now MEDEVAC with CSAR as a secondary mission based on actual missions flown."
That statement will outrage the PJ community. I suggest using this statement with caution.
- "CASEVAC vs MEDEVAC is a dead end discussion." So you do not know the significant difference between the two?
- Statistics absolutely prove that Reserve and NG units have better patient outcomes than our Active Duty. I completely agree. I was a part of that research and saw it first hand. The Army has now started to fly ICU/Trauma Nurses with DUSTOFF until the Flight Medic training is up to par. Even after the Army Flight Medic reaches the EMT-P standard, the Nurses will continue to fly. In the same way that the PJ team often flies with a Flight Surgeon when they fly CASEVAC on PEDRO.
- So your goal is to shorten the time needed for launch authority. That is something I can completely understand and agree we need to do some further research and development.
- What are your methods to help this process? Mission statement or objectives?
- Have you spent time to investigate the fixed-wing CASEVAC assets in AFG? There is a much larger picture than what I think this site is focused on. I feel there is a lot of opinion and very little data to support it. I know that OPSEC makes this discussion a little difficult but there is data out there...
Reply | Report to administrator
+1 # RE: RE: Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilotin_awe 2012-02-17 21:05
HN - The PJs may not like that description - but activity supports my contention that it is "functionally true". How aircraft have been lost in Afghanistan since 2001? How many CASEVAC/MEDEVAC flights have Pedros flown in that same period? I rest my case.

As to the differences between CASEVAC and MEDEVAC? I have spent days researching the topic. It is a muddle of mixed descriptions and overlapping capabilities. In the reality of the war in Afghanistan it is largely a distinction without a difference when it comes to calling Pedros and MERTS CASEVAC because they fly unmarked and armed, or can perform more than a pure MEDEVAC mission. Arguing about unclear and obsolete definitions is unproductive. The Army, AF and MERT all fly MEDEVAC missions.

I have been working 60+ hours a week on this issue reading AMEDD Journal articles and research documents, reading the very insightful Journal of the Royal Medical Corps articles about MEDEVAC in general and in Afghanistan in particular. I have been finding and reading Army FM's that affect MEDEVAC missions. I have scoured the web for any article on MEDEVAC since 2000. I have searched NATO Allied Joint Publications dealing with medical issues and guidelines, ditto for UK publications.

I am part of a group of individuals which include several Dustoff pilots and combat leaders who discuss this topic nearly non-stop. You will see a comprehensive web site in the near future that will serve as a 1 stop shop for the whole area of MEDEVAC investigation and review.

We are focused on RW assets right now for battlefield evacuation. I am assuming that since the V-22 is not used for MEDEVAC, the FW assets are used for TACEVAC movement of patients. That is another can of worms. Perhaps we can take it up off-line.

I will ask Michael to provide my contact information to you through his webmaster. I believe your continued input would help us polish our research and presentation.
Reply | Report to administrator

Add comment

Due to the large amount of spam, all comments will be moderated before publication. Please be patient if you do not see your comment right away. Registered users who login first will have their comments posted immediately.

Security code

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.




My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:


You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins