Michael's Dispatches

66 is not 59


17 February 2012

The Army campaign around the MEDEVAC continues to unravel.  They’ve tried just about everything short of assassination and witchcraft to freeze the growing stampede.  In the beginning, they claimed that my accounts of the failed MEDEVAC were completely wrong.  And then I produced the inconvenient high definition video and audio.

Undeterred, the Army has continued with a pattern of repetitive deception, knowing that if they repeat something enough it becomes “true.”  For instance, media accounts continue to parrot that Chazray Clark made it to the hospital one minute under the “Golden Hour” standard.  They say he reached the hospital in 59 minutes.  My video shows that it took about 66 minutes.

But the Army doesn’t let simple proof get in the way of the command narrative.

My unedited video of the attack and aftermath has been offered to the Pentagon and to the White House.  Neither accepted.  CBS and the Associated Press took it and produced stories.  Neither questioned my timeline.  FOX, nor any other media source, has questioned my timeline.

Yet outlets continue to parrot 59 minutes.   All reports that accept this narrative in the face of video are faulty.

Importantly, the unit in question, 4-4 Cav, has never dissented with the timeline I provided, and was highly supportive of these efforts.  A story about a fine Soldier in 4-4 Cav was published just yesterday, with these kind and generous words:

“Penton said if you really want to know what’s going on in Afghanistan, go to Michael Yon’s “Online Magazine.” He said all the American troops in Afghanistan trust and read Yon. Yon is what is called a combat journalist and the “New York Times” said he has spent more time imbedded with U.S. troops than any other living journalist.

Picayune Item

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Waterman · 9 years ago
    The days of 'looking out for the troops' have been superseded by 'cover your ass and look out for your career.'
    • This commment is unpublished.
      John Gorman · 9 years ago
      Sorry Steve but that has been the Army way since the Civil War. McClellan could have ended the conflict very early but put his political "career" such as it was first and failed to take Richmond early on.

      Large organizations by their very nature are self protective and CYA is the order of the day. If not for individuals like Mike Yon and many others, inside and outside, they would get away with it every time. Courage on the battlefield is a given most cowardness takes place well off the battlefield. Always has always will.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Pineland Ferg · 9 years ago
        Correct Mr. Gorman. We call it institutionalized arrogance in academia. The belief that, if you are the smartest guys in the room, then everything you say or your peers say must be correct and unquestionable, even in the face of facts contrary.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Jesse Brown · 9 years ago
        I think John Gorman has it nailed.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      John J Brehm · 9 years ago
      The days of cover your ass and look out for your career really started way back when slick Willie started his downsizing.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        soretoe · 9 years ago
        Hate to say it but the PC crap started in the early 60s.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Ken Pierce · 9 years ago
        Seems to me those days have been around as long as there have been armies. I mean, it's not like Colin Powell's career didn't start before the Clinton presidency.
        • This commment is unpublished.
          Ryden · 9 years ago
          Agreed. As I've written before, it's no use to blame a certain political party for this, as Red Crosses have not been respected for more than 60 years now. Say what you want about Bush, Powell, Panetta, Obama, Reagan, Clinton, etc., this particular issue predated them all, and it is thus a matter of not blaming anyone in particular for it, or blaming everyone (last option doesn't sound crazy). Honestly, turning a problem like this into a political one will hardly make it go away any faster, because then people will just sit and blame each other instead of doing something to save the lives of American and allied servicemen, which I am quite sure no one objects to.
          • This commment is unpublished.
            JD · 9 years ago
            It's time for someone to stand up and say enough. Someone needs to be held accountable. God knows that the people squeezing the triggers are constantly being held to account by (it seems) the entire international community. Now it's time for some "leader" to get off their bellies and say "the buck stops here". We have (had) the greatest military in the world, with great leadership leading it. This issue, once corrected, will make it even better. Let the Swedes and Swiss fly red crosses on their unarmed aircraft if they want. We don't want it and I believe that if the American people were fully briefed on it most of them would agree.

            It's time to ask each and every candidate for Federal office what their stance is on this ridiculous policy.

            On another note, Mike, another check is on the way. Thanks for what you do!
            • This commment is unpublished.
              Ryden · 9 years ago
              Well, the Swiss aren't over there. But just to add some weight to how far this ridiculous habit the Army has of slapping Red Crosses on vehicles, I should mention that when the Swedish MEDEVAC choppers (Blackhawks) deploy to Afghanistan, they will serve as both MEDEVACs and cargo choppers, meaning they will not have Red Crosses, but will be armed with Ksp 58 (FN MAG, M240, L7, whatever one know them as) machine guns.

              To sum it up: We have two armies: The last time Army S went to war was in the 60's, in a small scale UN mission. They had bolt action rifles and submachine guns, and its first choppers (painted in UN white though). Today Army S is preparing its first ever Medical evacuation helicopters that it will use in a real war. They will be armed and without Red Crosses.
              Now let me introduce Army U. Army U has been in both world wars, it equipps its troops with technology many countries only issue to their SF, and it has been fighting two wars non-stop for more than ten years now. Army U still paint its MEDEVACs with Red Crosses, even though they have recognized that this makes them so vulnerable that they always need an escort.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mr. W J. Williams · 9 years ago
    I remember returning to active duty in 1996, after Clinton released USNR officers in 1994-95. While discussing my return with a neighbor, an active duty Navy O-6, he asked me why I returned "when all the good guys are gettign out". Little did I know how right he was after deployments in 200 and 2008-09. The abysmall leadership for the sake of political correctness and "zero defects" mentality leadership, to include "equal opportunity promotions" at the expense of national defense and troop welfare made me glad to retire. I LOVE my country, but the elitist mentality amongst government officials are saddening.
    Mike, keep telling the truth! God Bless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Phyllis Pajka · 9 years ago
    I have told people every since I found your site that if they wanted to know what was going on in Iraq or Afghanistan to read your version of events. You're always about telling it like it is and that's what we really want to know anyway. You do such an excellent job Micael. Just watch your back. We don't want you to vanish one day because you've told the truth.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James · 9 years ago
    Michael, both sides of this argument have merit. Why is it that commander's who have helo assetts don't use them to provide MEDEVAC in those situations where proper MEDEVAC is unavailable or delayed. Seems to me that Brigade and Division commanders should lay their ranks on the line if they feel that strongly. Otherwise, they should have contingency A/C available in those cases where casualties are almost certain to occur. The more you push on this, the more they will push back. Time to work around the system.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Amr · 9 years ago
    My son, after 8 years in the Army is getting out. Too nanny state and PC for him. When the killings at Fort Hood, where he was at after returning from Iraq, are beginning to be called work place violence instead of killings by an Islamic radical/domestic terrorist, tells it all.

    Michael, keep up the good work. I continue to ping my federal officials.

    The military budget is been cut to the bone, so it is time to reduce the ratio of officers to enlisted. My son, as a sergeant did the work of an officer in Iraq since they were short handed. Time to cut the dang fat! Too many ticket punchers.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JD · 9 years ago
    It's simple, Generals. Every second counts when treating wounded soldiers. I would think that especially those in command of our Army's Medical Corps would realize this.

    As for those in the Combat Arms:

    We know you're days of combat are over but let's pretend that you're "days of glory" are here again and you're on patrol as a platoon Leader and you or someone in your platoon detonates an IED and gets their leg blown off. How long would YOU want to be sitting out there?

    It's your jobs to change the policy and get our wounded off the battlefield and onto the operating table ASAP.

    This really goes beyond Congressmen and Senators. When is the Commander-in-Chief going to be held to account for allowing his Secretary and Generals to keep policies in effect that postpone the treatment of his/their soldiers? We can see that decimating our military is high on his list. Perhaps he can do the same to archaic policies. If a soldier on the front lines deviates from the always evolving ROE's they are held to account. Why shouldn't the Desk Jockey's?

    It's time we start chronicling all this as to who said what and when for the future military history books.

    With the logic of The Pentagon, Chazray and his fellow soldiers would have been riding horses because "that's the tradition". My son served in the Cav. His Platoon Leader was killed by friendly fire. In hindsight all involved say there were ways that tragedy didn't have to occur. But in war horrible things happen. We know this. Mistakes happen. But on this policy the Army is on notice. Each incident that a "marked" MEDIVAC helicopter is fired upon or delayed is squarely the result of poor leadership. Eventually (hopefully not long) someone, somewhere, will decide that this is simply gross negligence and something will be done. If this were the civilian world lawyers would be making a lot of money on the lawsuits.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank · 9 years ago
    These foreign countries with their problems becomes our problems. We seen this too many times. The people need to educated the Politicians and Military Brass on how we want this country to operate. We have lost too much taxpayer money and way too many American lives. Let's bring them home cut the Foreign aid. We need to worry about Drugs, Illegals,the Mexican and Central American countries. Our fight is on our borders not in Afganistan. I could give a crap less what goes on in the Muslim countries. Generation after generation we continue to lose our freedom. I want US troops on the Southern Border. The PATRIOT Missle System up and down the East And West Coast. We need an Administration that has a set of testicles. We lost them after Vietnam!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Barnett · 9 years ago
    I took my 12 year old stepson out to lunch this afternoon, and on the way, he described a game of dodgeball they had played in school. Mildly surprised that the game had survived, even in a Catholic school environment, I listened to the differences from the game we played. In our games, when you were hit, you were dead. Simple, and end of game for you. In his game, you are wounded, not killed, and each team has two 'medics' whose responsibility is to literally drag wounded combatants to the rear lines, where they are then considered healed. The 'medics' wear red vests, and if they are both hit, then you are considered dead if you are hit, as no one else is allowed to rescue you.

    I asked him if the 'medics' were allowed to throw balls as well as rescue the wounded, and he replied "of course they are... this is war. Only an idiot wouldn't let everybody fight who could fight!"

    Now, my stepson is pretty smart (he's already chosen his college and has written to numerous aerospace companies asking for advice on college courses!), so I decided to tell him about the MEDEVAC chopper situation.

    I don't think he really believes me though... he can't comprehend the Army being that stupid!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    FThomas · 9 years ago
    As I have watched this issue progress I have said in my correspondence with Congressmen, The Joints Chief of Staff and with Michael that the Golden Hour really is the Golden Minutes and Seconds following a Critical Injury!

    The timly response of US Army MedeVac to get our troops to a well equipped Trauma Center and their survival can be counted in minutes if not seconds.

    The delay's being created by requiring that the decision be made at the BN level and higher to launch are costing precious time and the lives of our troops.

    Enough of the political rhetoric and hyperbole General Dempsey! Change the policey NOW!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dean Knox · 9 years ago
    The situation in VN was exactly as it is today........no change. Medals of Honor were awarded lift helicopter pilots who volunteered and braved the bullets of "hot landing zones" and went in anyway to extract wounded and dead when the Midivac guys wouldn't or couldn"t. Medivac policey prohibited same. If the "Red Cross" was anything other then a marking for "center of mass" for the enemy, ground medics would still be wearing the armbands. This on going flap is totally irrelevant since only the good guys seem to give a damn about the Geneva Convention rules these days which in this case are archaic and ignorant.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Kurt Olney · 9 years ago
      Put a target on an unarmed helicopter. And the target is offensive to the Taliban. And the Taliban doesn't give a f--k about the Geneva Conventions--never signed, doesn't abide by, and certainly finds the red cross offensive, i.e. We are the Infidels!! There is madness about all of this.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    D H Madsen · 9 years ago
    Michael Yon has an agenda. It is to tell the truth and support the troop who is taking what get's dished out. I've followed Michael since 2006, and he's always been honest and insightful. He's a great photographer and he can write a great dispatch. Now he has done one of the best things for the soldiers in combat that has been accomplished. He has started the great debate about medevac that will end up saving lives because in the end his side will prevail. Right will prevail.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Grenadier · 9 years ago
    Long ago and far away (DMZ Vietnam 1969), a Marine H-46 pilot positioned his bird nearly touching his ramp to the side ridge line were my company was engaged. I remember looking down at the helicopter as my wounded were loaded. Blade clearance was very close. The top of the ridge line was in direct line of fire from the DMZ & directly in front of my position. I didn't need a burning chopper in the middle of my company, so that very courageous Marine pilot & crew backed in ramp down well below the military crest of the "safe" side of the ridge to avoid getting shot down. Both armed lift birds and unarmed MEDEVAC birds were used get wounded to treatment. Pilots and crews were consistently very courageous. Someone is reported to have said, "If you can standup on the LZ, its not hot!" In the case cited anything above knee level was an easy target for NVA machine gunners. A Huey could not land without getting killed but a C-46 could back in. That said, I do not why senior Army leadership continues to insist on maintaining Red Crosses on unarmed MEDEVACs. As noted above, the bad guys don't know or care about the Geneva Convention. To them, we a fools willing to sacrifice our soldiers for the sake of political correctness.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    rob romenesko · 9 years ago
    66 is not 59, could have been 12 had the Pedros been dispatched. This is all just pathetic, turf wars at the expense of lives.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Terry Daly · 9 years ago
    If you ever do get to talk to GEN Dempsey for real could you ask him about his stated intention while he was CSA to devote significant $$$$, thought and time to improving the Army squad: he saw the squad as the only Army unit that was in danger of being overmatched and he intended to fix that. Who identified this problem? Now that GEN Dempsey is no longer CSA who will pick that ball up and run with it? Anybody? Regatds, Terry
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Terry Daly · 9 years ago
    If you ever do get to talk to The Great Man could you ask him if anyone picked up the ball and is running with it to prevent the Army squad from being overmatched in combat? That was one of the big -4 problems he had identified to work on as CSA and who in the Army will be working on it to fix it now that he is no longer there to provide the drive needed since there are so many other people who will be concerned only with protecting their own equitirs? Regards, Terry
  • This commment is unpublished.
    BH · 9 years ago
    The thing "they" (MSM, Army brass, etc) are missing is that an injuried Soldier shouldn't spend one second longer on the battlefield than they have to. It doesn't matter if they evac him/her in 59 minutes or 29 minutes if there was ANY delay it should be addressed. Can you imagine if civilian EMS stopped for coffee enroute to take grandma to the hospital in the midst of a heart attack and then said "well hey our department policy to to arrive at the ED within 0 minutes of getting the call"?

    Before anyone says anything I realize waiting for an armed escort and stopping for coffee are way apart, but think about the media backlash on the EMS service for allowing something like that to happen.

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