Michael's Dispatches

Red Air: America’s Medevac Failure


2011-09-17-221447cc10004-4 Cav waiting to board helicopters for an air assault.

12 October 2011

Most of our troops in Afghanistan never see combat.  The closest they get might be the occasional rocket attacks on bases.  A relatively small number will be in so many fights that the war becomes a jumble.  For those who see fighting daily, their mental time markers are often when they or their buddies were hurt or died, or when some other serious event occurred.

The troops in 4-4 Cav have seen a great deal of fighting.  Their courage seems bottomless and for two-and-a-half months I was an eyewitness to their professionalism and courage.

This mission would be dangerous.  The Female Engagement Team was left behind and the only female Soldier to come was a medic because, as she would tell me, “I’m the badass medic.”

We sat in the morning darkness behind the helicopters waiting for them to start.  A few Soldiers were sleeping on the rocks, while others murmured about this or that.  A bomb dog looked at me, then plopped her head on the stomach of her handler, leaving her nose pointing to the sky due to the bulk of the handler’s body armor. The air was still and cool at about 0230 when the helicopters cranked engines under the waning gibbous moon.  Illumination was enough for an RPG shot on the landing which could take us all down in a ball of fire.

The helium-filled aerostat balloon tugged at its tether in the background, and light years farther in the background was Orion, pointing north.  Remarkably, all of the fighting done by 4-4 Cav has occurred within just a few miles of this base.

00001MTSStill001cc1000CH-47 lifting off on a 4-4 Cav air assault. This image was made from a previous mission. All other images in this dispatch are from the mission described herein.

The CH-47 engines were roaring under the spinning rotors as crew members inspected the aircraft with flashlights looking for any signs of trouble.  Thick, hot fumes washed over us as we boarded. Troops filled every seat and all the space on the floor.  The helicopters lifted off and soon the wheels touched down on the landing zone in tilled fields. We rushed away from the back ramp and the helicopters flew off into morning darkness leaving us among marijuana fields and the Taliban. The mission into the deadly village of Leyadira had begun.

Through night vision, the Operations Sergeant Major Gregg Larson--a fine NCO--could be seen flipping open his Army compass and checking the azimuth.

00007MTSStill004cc1000On the landing zone.

Soldiers ahead of us searched for bombs using special gear such as metal detectors and other more secret stuff, but that only works to a point. And it only covers the area where a trooper has used the gear.  I don’t trust it.  The dogs are okay, but they get blown up, too.  Often the first person to find a bomb is far back down the line and he finds it by getting killed.  Keeping your distance from the person in front is crucial.  Being too close to any other man doubles the chance of both getting hit.

The village of Leyadira was full of booby-traps waiting for us--trip wires, pressure plates, and who knows what else--but we didn’t know that yet.  As best I can tell, Specialist Chazray Clark was at least number eighteen down the line.  The village was vacant other than the enemy.  The commander, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Katona, expected a big fight.   The moon was so bright that it cast shadows.  We were maybe two hundred meters into Leyadira when the first explosion happened.


BOOM!!!  Off to front right there was a tremendous blast.  Seconds later, debris began raining down and could be heard coming through the trees on the right.  The ANA Soldier looked at me startled (image above) and started to run for cover, but there was none to be found.  I just stood still, waiting to be hit because it was better to be still in a place now known to have bombs.  We were not in small arms contact.  He saw me stand still and he did the same.

2011-09-18-000139cc10004-4 Cav Soldier working

Specialist Chazray Clark had stepped on a bomb.  Some Afghan Soldiers had strayed off the cleared path and Chazray was following them because they were in front of his section.  Sergeant Edward Wooden had been close to Chazray but not wounded.  Wooden was proving yet again to be solid under pressure.  He had been wounded during a previous mission but now was good to go.  Sergeant Carroll was so close to this explosion that he was stone deaf.   Chazray was terribly wounded and had been thrown and landed on his face. The platoon was staggered by the blast yet kept their bearing.  They were amazingly calm.

2011-09-18-000707cc1000Minutes after the blast, Lieutenant Flores is working the situation by making a “9-line” communication.

In my location, the air was clear, but closer to the blast area the dust was thick.  The night vision devices were useless for those in the immediate area of the blast.  Sergeant Wooden called out the names of his men in the darkness, taking head count. Near the detonation, nobody could see each other.

2011-09-18-001224cc1000A Soldier moves toward the scene of the blast while clearing his steps. No visible lights are being used.

Sergeant Wooden called, “Clark!” Chazray was facedown. One arm and both his legs were gone, and yet this man had the strength and presence to call out from the dust and darkness.  Chazray answered, “I’m okay. ”  Sergeant Wooden said Chazray’s voice sounded completely normal.  Chazray was carrying a good deal of explosives when he stepped on the bomb, including det-cord and caps.  Luckily, they didn’t detonate.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lean · 9 years ago
    I see the very medivac birds and escort gunships you are talking about here in KAF, they take off and land constantly. These are very busy birds indeed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kathleen · 9 years ago
    Your account is so clear that I can feel the frustration the pilots, medevac team, and all the soldiers experienced. It is unbelievable that 10 years into this war, the OICs on the ground are not given discretion on these matters that they DO KNOW BEST. I was a nurse and officer in the USAF before this war began. We frequently went on air-evacs. Thank goodness that our unit's commanding officer, a colonel, also had no tolerance for the type of politics that endangered lives. I clearly remember him calling the Secretary of Defense in the middle of the night when we were having difficulty securing the first military aircraft within a certain airspace to land and transport our team and critically ill patient (who we had just put on heart-lung bypass)back to our tertiary care center. It seems like there may be a much more top heavy command and that they are all in a stalemate. Very sad. Very tragic. Very unacceptable.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike mckee · 9 years ago
    You are correct, a general should be sacked, but so should the chief of the army because on his watch this has not been fixed.
    I feel for the line officers who can't speak out.
    Maybe it is time to name and shame the generals who need army helos to do trips?
    or sack them.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon · 9 years ago
    Follow Up to RED AIR:

    Golden Seconds: An Open Letter to Secretary Panetta and President Obama

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Diane · 9 years ago
    Hate to say this, but I believe my son-in-law was the "other" one that died due to the Dustoffs not being able to land until the fighter copters came in. In another article about the medivacs and medics bravery, it was about my son-in-law and how it took the Medivac 4 times to land next to him to get him. That entire time, he lay dying in his best friend's arms, while being told how much his wife and 2 baby girls loved him. This breaks my HEART that he died due to political BS. We would rather have him home, with no legs or hand, than coming home in a box. This is outrageous! God Bless you Michael for the work you're doing at keeping us all informed of the conditions our friends, children, brothers/sisters, fathers/mothers and aunts/uncles are enduring in this decade long battle. Stay safe! And God Bless Our Troops!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Christina · 9 years ago
    start a petition http://www.change.org/
    • This commment is unpublished.
      James · 9 years ago
      Yon is probably right about the Medical Service just wanting to keep control of the helicoptes for their convience and the power of status. I started flying medevac in Dester Storm. The Medical Service Corp knew nothing about operating medevac helicopters. After two days of hauling hurt and wounded to hospitals, we got orders to start doing medevac, orders we had recieved and followed earlier.
      Our battalian HQ spent the four days of the ground war lost in the desert. Our guys who were with them were highly pissed! In Desert Storm, medevac success depend mainly on the initiative of individal crews. We got support mainly from maneuver elements.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob · 9 years ago
    Part 1

    Point 1: Do we have any idea whether or not the Pedros were supporting their REAL mission which is downed aircrew recovery? The USAF PJs are not there for MEDEVAC or even CASEVAC. They are dedicated CSAR assets and there are very few of them.

    Point 2: One might recall Mogadishu in which armed helicopters (160th SOAR) were shot down by "primitives". So arming helicopters does not solve the concern over loss of aircraft in a contested LZ. You can put a cannon on a MEDEVAC aircraft and if it gets into a tight hole and someone shoots at it from above it is dead.

    Point : Pedros fly in weather because they have aircraft certified for weather, including radar, Army MEDEVAC aside from HH-60s are highly constrained by many conditions in which SOF aircraft can easily fly.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Pablo · 9 years ago
      Pedros have been tasked with flying MEDEVAC (specifically) for a long time buddy. They are ALSO capable of executing their "REAL" CSAR/PR mission as the need arises.

      -From someone who did it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob · 9 years ago
    Part 2

    Point 4: Reality is reality in politics. In the same manner in which the Army lost it's cargo aircraft to the USAF who won't use it, the culture of MEDEVAC makes it unique from assault and lift and you cannot treat them like DAPs and not expect them to be pulled for that use.

    Point 5: Sometimes lethal injuries are not immediately lethal OR salvageable. Before we start speculating on what would have saved the kid's life we might want to consider that he experienced significant blast and extremity trauma and may have died no matter what care he got.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob · 9 years ago

    Putting a machine gun on a MEDEVAC does not solve this problem in any way.

    Last point? You inserted by air, right? So where was the CASEVAC plan? This kid didn't die because of lack of armed MEDEVAC, he may have died because the armed helicopters that put you in didn't lager to pull out casualties when they happened. No MEDEVAC in the world is as fast as the same assault ship you just rode in on. He needed tourniquets (basic soldier/combat lifesaver level skill) and speed. I'd like to know who the mission approval authority was that approved an assault without identifying CASEVAC during the mission.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Phillip · 9 years ago
    This sounds mostly like fanaticism. Greater than 90% of casualties that are stabilized prior to medevac end up surviving, is a sad story for this man's family and friends, but to say that Dustoff isn't doing its job because they lost a guy is pretty far fetched. My buddy got hit in Iraq and had to be medevac'ed, Dustoff landed in an active mine field to rescue him--without clearing an LZ. These guys are brave and they go through great lengths to save our wounded.

    Also, as the gentleman stated below me, Pedros (USAF PJ's) are not a medevac unit, they are a dedicated special forces combat search and rescue asset. Their mission is such that it precludes them from standard medevacs.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Rob · 9 years ago
      Dennis is not arguing that the dustoff pilots are courageous and will do anything to save a soldier regardless of the "approval landing zone." He's pointing out that Micheal is saying there is a problem with the sop on medivac approval to depart. Micheal is basically saying that we should have the ability to arm a medivac or use other assest if it's going to take too long to get an escort. I completely understand that there will be delays and occasional miscommunications when you go thur chain of commands to get a medivac.
      If there was a .001% chance that your fellow battles (or any for that matter) could have been saved if a policy stated (i.e.) that if armed escort is to exceed 10 min other means to secure medivac patient(s) may be used. It's a shame that a person will never know if he could have really been saved, because we can't go back in time. We can try to change the lift off procedure of the medivacs so we don't have another instance of someone saying "we could have saved him if the medivac could have lifted off sooner."
      Granted I can't and won't say anything about the accusations about using choppers for themselves. I simply have no idea on that aspect of the accusations.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Derek · 9 years ago
      Pedros aren't just pjs, they're pilots, Flight engineers and gunners, too. And no, our mission does not preclude us from medevacs; it puts medevac 1 priority level below CSAR. We have performed many medevacs.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Dennis · 9 years ago
      Did you miss this part?

      "It is important to be absolutely clear--this is not about the Dustoff pilots and crews, who are incredibly courageous. They have earned enormous respect. They’ll fly into hell to get one of our wounded troopers. This is about politics getting in the way of saving lives."
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Phillip · 9 years ago
        The is an article about fabricated political problems that don't exist. Sure, there will always be problems with inter-service teamwork, or arguments in the chain of command, but all this nonsense about helicopters being saved for senior officers is pure bull. First, flag officers have their own air transport, they don't need to requisition other assets for transport, and second, each Medical Service Corps company is run by a major, so I'm not sure what "senior" officer Yon is talking about, because they just aren't around.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Phillip · 9 years ago
        I guess you aren't understanding me: the pilot wasn't approved to land in an active mine field--I thought that just went without saying--he did it anyway. Most of the time dustoff does an awesome job, with or without command approval, and most of the time there isn't a problem medevac'ing casualties. This is a sad, isolated, instance. In actuality, dustoff has been very successful is saving our casualties. Everyone that I have talked to that has actually been in combat, and that has actually had a real experience with dustoff, had only praise for them.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wade Karbs · 9 years ago

    Perhaps you gentlemen would care to offer some credentials? With your seemingly first hand knowledge of these Medevac issues, you must have had lots of combat experience.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      j · 9 years ago
      Camocowboybob777 and all,

      Before this devolves, my "uncredentialed" opinion is that politics are politics and you do not have to be a combat veteran to understand that. Additionally, there are plenty of combat vets who may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer...not taking away from thier service, just stating a fact...eveyone has thier own opinion. Yon has interesting stories, but guess what--he is human too and has an opinion just like everyone else, and may not see the whole picture at the tactical level. The dickheads in charge are too worried about big important things like how many eyebrow waxed french-manicured butt-pirates will get rump ranger tabbed and inserted into the Army. Devolution complete.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Greg · 9 years ago
    I am not in the military. But how much of this is the result of mission planning failure. Isnt it the onsight commander responsiblity to have MedEvac standing by to cover a ongoing mission ? Resupply and Evac have to be top priority for mission support? Correct ? My fear is that our guys are out thier in danger while simple coordination and planning is failing them. God bless our side and all vets. Thanks.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    sandy the apache · 9 years ago
    It was a preventable tragedy. During Nam my good friend and fellow Marine had a similar experience. He lost both legs, and had a half dozen bad bleeders from shrapnel. He was picked up in about 25 min. by a Army dustoff. He survived the war and had a very productive life after. Time is critical to a casualties survival. What happened? Politics? the dustoffs in my day would come in so hot the tails nearly hit the deck. Was there not enough blood at the field hospital? That amount of time for a triple amputee is pure bullsh@@. With todays medical procedures there was no discernible reason that this man should have died. In Nam if you made it to the hospital the survivability ratio was 97% Hell even in Korea the survivability was in the 90th percentile. This distresses me and disgusts me they weren't landing in a firefight, there was no fire from anywhere, and no excuse for it to have taken that long.

    A Fellow Serviceman
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Friend of 4-4 · 9 years ago
    The irresponsible piece of your otherwise outstanding work is that you have speculated on the cause of death of SPC Clark. You surmise that the 65 minutes caused his death. I agree that 65 minutes is far too long but it's wrong to jump to conclusions on the cause of death this early.

    I served in Arghandab last year and experienced dozens of Medevacs. 25- 0 minutes is a typical response time for either Pedro or Army assets from KAF in that area.

    The injuries due to Soldiers from IEDs in these circumstances are extremely graphic and horrific. Some Soldiers survive their injuries and some die en route or later. I too have seen alert Soldiers be loaded onto a medevac only to learn later that they did not survive.

    Before we jump to conclusions on the cause of death, a thorough investigation will be done and the family will get the details -- more than a supposition from Michael Yon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ade · 9 years ago
    To all Our Soldiers, stay safe and get home soon. [url: removed by Webmaster]
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sharon Brummund · 9 years ago
    I don't think this is irresponsible reporting at all!! Our boys are over there risking their lives! When there is a problem that is costing lives, it needs to get fixed, without burecratic nonsense. These are our sons, and daughters, our soldiers defenders of our soil and our freedoms. They deserve the very best!. Thank God someone is telling us the truth of how these boys are being treated when they are at their most vulnerable. I think the politicians should be required to do a tour of duty at the front lines, then you will see some changes!!.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jason LaCrosse · 9 years ago
    good article, I am a MEDEVAC Pilot and have been with MEDEVAC for 15 years, i have 4 combat deployments, earned the Silver Star and German Medal of Honor all on one MEDEVAC Mission in Konduz on 2 April 2010. I will agree with alot of what you said but disagree on the Pedro piece. Having worked with the PEDRO's on all my tours i can tell you this, they take longer to launch (ex. soldier injured it took them 5 hours to get him back to KAF, due to it being a hoist mission and they had to dump fuel then clal in a c-1 0 for fuel to make it back), they can only carry one patient, possibly 2 depending on the altitude because of how heavy they are, etc.. etc.. MEDEVAC crews are ready to launch on every 9 line under 10 minutes , they have a 15 launch criteria, if they are delayed it is because of maintenance, or higher up trying to make a decision. I think you should embed yourself with a DUSTOFF crew to get first hand experience of what happens and how. DUSTOFF!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Andrew Inman · 9 years ago
    I don't know who is feeding you guys your information, but ALL US Army MEDEVAC helicopters in Afghanistan are equipped with FLIR STAR SAFIRE II. The UH-60A+ helicopters utilized by most of the DUSTOFF crews in Afghanistan are 25% faster than the MH-60G utilized by the AF. That said, as a MEDEVAC UH-60 Instructor Pilot who was awarded the Air Medal for Valor in Helmand, I am all in favor of removing the red cross and arming our birds to the teeth. The enemy sees the red cross that adorns our birds, and knows that we will not be shooting back.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon Author · 9 years ago
    Interesting thoughts here from a Dustoff pilot:

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon Author · 9 years ago
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/hurry_wait_and_die_wyLvNsCxiZKASR4ePF VyK
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Eric_StrattonIII · 9 years ago
    I have interacted with Army MEDEVACs since O4' & 10' in Iraq, 07', 08' and 11' in Afghanistan and they have always been the same when talking to them DIRECTLY. They will not land in a Hot LZ, they will not go without a escort and they will not exactly rush to get an indig. These protocols were instituted by their leaders and while many pilots said they would do what they could to get there I found out the hard way that was BS. Last June we got hit in an ambush an it was almost 2 hours until I got to the clinic in Tarin Kowt. I pretty much wound up bleeding out, having to get 0 units of blood and plasma over a few days, KAF docs saved my life in the end and I was lucky to get the treatment I did. The Helos themselves were over us within 0 mins but they remained in standby until the AW platforms came in. Joke. Sorry, the Army MEDEVACs system is greatly flawed and terribly lead and in my opinion your medics are also bloody horrible. The guy could not get an IV stick in the most severely wounded of us until the helo touched down. He had great veins in his hands but the Medic kept going for the AC space even though the kid had an injury to his arm. Again, joke. Having worked with your 68W's I assume that they (flight medics) are also slow to adopt the proper TCCC protocols and instead appeared to adopt the EMT-P protocols.
    The Army should not call themselves Combat MEDEVACs, you should be renamed "Lifeflight". Give me Air Force or Marine Birds any day. I have also seen Army Kiowas land to get guys before your guys will, so YOU and YOUR Community are to blame, not the AO Commanders, YOU.

    The excuses I hear about not being able to get enough gunships to support are amazing to me!! Either push to arm your helos or go without gunships or rename yourselves and stop acting like you are "Combat" MEDEVACs, at least then we will be honest with ourselves.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      MAJ Jonathan Hartman · 9 years ago
      Apologies to you Eric. I can tell you that in my 10 years and 4 deployments with MEDEVAC units, I don't share your sentiments, although I may be biased. Is the system perfect? Absolutely not. But I'm surprised to hear about your experience. I will say that since MEDEVAC units have been under control of the Aviation branch, some unnecessary control measures have been put in place that cause delays that are unwarranted.

      You mention '04 in Iraq. Can't speak for other units at the time, but I assure you that during the initial Iraq 'conflict' in '0 as well as our follow up '04-'05 deployment, my unit flew mostly single ship MEDEVAC missions. In the latter portion of the '04-'05 deployment we began to catch flack from AV about single ship ops, so we would fly dual ship - MED/MED - no slicks. Looking back, I can tell you that single ship was just stupid - not for enemy threat on the PZ, but issues enroute. The day you have to put an aircraft down with no escort, is a bad day. That thought alone really made me reconsider my aversion to mandatory dual-ship missions.
      Somewhere along the line, however, a lot of red tape got interjected by AV leadership. This simply wasn't part of the equation in the seperate MEDEVAC units before aviation transformation - and we flew with crosses and no guns. This really isn't an issue of crosses or guns, it's an issue of risk aversion and the ability to look at the MEDEVAC mission as what it is - a medical mission. It's not a general support aviation mission - hauling A&T. It requires some flexibility and acceptance of risk. In my opinion - IN MY OPINION - this has been the biggest difference since MEDEVAC has been an AV mission - things are looked at a bit too analytically when time and urgency just doesn't allow for it. There is the other side of the coin that the MEDEVAC mission and it's urgency creates an aversion to planning when time allows - I've seen both sides.
      Having said all of this there are some senior leaders out there that do get it - my last brigade commander was one of them. We would launch pretty much no questions asked. Time was of the essence and he accepted the additional risk. He got it, and the system worked very well because he did.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        eric_Strattoniii · 9 years ago
        Major, I appreciate you coming on a site an actually apologizing but the problem is systemic. I always made it a point to talk to the MEDEVAC and CAS pilots any chance I could when on an airbase if I knew they would be acting in support of us. Since Summer of 04' and spring of 10' in OIF, again in OEF 07', 08' and 11' the story was the same- they will not land in a hot LZ, they will not go without a gunship as escort and they took forever to adopt TCCC. I am not talking single ship, I am talking Medical bird and gunship support, (AH-64's). We like AWT too but we don't not do our mission without them. You are supposed to be "Combat" MEDEVAC or CASEVAC, whatever you would like to call it. You should not call yourself that if you refuse to land in a hot HLZ, refuse to land or go to target without gunship support and for a while refused to train your people like combat medics instead of flight paramedics. All these things get people killed and you are essentially "Lifeflight" when you act in the manner you do. Outside of the helo colors and rank of pilots what is really the difference between what you do and Lifeflight? Think about that for a second-you won't land in a dangerous area, you won't go or land w/out gunships support and your medics are trained as Flight EMT-Ps. What is the essential difference? Not arming the helos is an unfortunate side effect of a senior leadership that lacks moral courage, that is not on you guys. The rest of the problems are institutional and are on you guys.

        This quote-" my last brigade commander was one of them. We would launch pretty much no questions asked. Time was of the essence and he accepted the additional risk. He got it, and the system worked very well because he did" That is great that you guys took off in time, they did for me as well, many others got to the area in time but they would not land unless the HLZ was cold and they had gunships to get any potential hazards. It does not do anyone any good if you take off and get to the HLZ in time if all you do is make circles and stand off, the people who need your help are on the ground. You are just finally training your medics to TCCC fully, great but the wars are almost over. A wee to little, a wee to late. There is loads of proof on this website alone, never mind my story. When I see a policy that allows the pilots to make the call to land, if they are open to allowing them to arm themselves and/or letting the pilots make the call if they need gunship support then I will think that the Army MEDEVAC system is worth a spit, until then I would prefer to work with anyone else I can. I am sure you are a good guy and I know a lot of the pilots hated the policies, fix it or you are part of the problem.
        • This commment is unpublished.
          MAJ Jonathan Hartman · 9 years ago
          "At the start of the Global War on Terrorism in 2001, the Army was the only service that had incorporated Tactical Combat Casualty Care into its basic combat medical personnel training program As experience from the war has been gained and the success of TCCC on the battlefield has been documented..."

          Lessons Learned in Developing a Military Medical Lessons Learned ... by Iris A CDR, NC, USN Boehnke and Frank K Jr, CAPT, MC, USN (RET Butler and Ann CAPT, MC, USN (RET Yos / Military Medicine

          Just a quote from a very cursory search. You have so much misinformation in your post it's not even worth further discussion. You obviously have it figured out. Our medics are trained as EMT-Ps...really...? This is the most laughable part of your post. You should research the latest changes to the flight medic program. Seriously man, if you're going to discredit so many people, you really need to get at least half of your facts in order. "You won't land in a dangerous area." Yeah, crazy, I'm still trying to figure out how birds came back with bullet holes... Total waste of time...
          • This commment is unpublished.
            eric_Strattoniii · 9 years ago
            As for your flight protocols, please, by all means, tell me I am wrong on that too. "I'm still trying to figure out how birds came back with bullet holes", yeah, I am sure they have, we have lied to get you guys to land at times, lied to you guys to come for indigs and folks fire at you in the air, it is a combat zone. YOU WILL NOT LAND ON A HOT LZ, that is a mantra when I talk to MEDEVACs, if they are, then they are doing it rarely. Those were the exact words given to me by every squadron at JBAD, BAF and KAF, so yeah I don't buy it. Tell me when you guys start going out with no gunship support? Tell me when you guys don't say in a brief prior that you will land on a Hot LZ? Tell me when the pilot is given the choice and trust to do what he/she thinks is needed. IF that has changed this last year, great, fantastic, awesome and about time. I have 5 tours that says I am not wrong but maybe they finally changed this year, like Yon has been pushing for? Like that paper that is on here advocated for. Yet, somehow I remain a skeptic. The MDs at KAF and BAF are amazing, the medics on the helos want to do the right thing, the pilots told me they would come if it was an emergency (that turned out not be a consistent view of course), etc..but the policy goes counter to all of that, or at least it did up to 11'. I even get that folks don't want fallen angels but the risk averse mentality if rampant and is has caused the problems I have seen and that are talked about on here.

            You are probably a good guy, care about your org but if you are not going to see that most of this stuff on here has been going on for a decade and that they are just now changing then you are not being honest with yourself. If it changed totally in the last year, hey, that is fantastic but not let's act like the Army is known for radical change unless the Germans or Japanese Empires are at our doors again, that was the last time I saw the Army quickly adapt. I am sure that individual flight crews were doing those things you talk about all the time but they were the exception, not the rule.
            • This commment is unpublished.
              Michael Yon Author · 9 years ago
              The upper Army has become so used to this disinformation that they do not seem to realize that we actually see it and are calling bullshit. Tell your SF buddies they are not alone; there are quite a number of upper conventional officers who are fully tracking and working this, too. I communicate with some of them regularly and they say this campaign is breaking ribs and that we should keep slugging. Best to you and your buddies and thank you for slugging on this.
              • This commment is unpublished.
                MAJ Jonathan Hartman · 9 years ago
                Best to you, too. 18D, huh..? Well if you're looking at conventional to adopt things at the same time/pace, and have access to the same equipment as SOF, then you're out of touch with the conventional force - especially over the last decade. I appreciate your passion, I really do. I guess I just feel like you paint with a really broad brush, and thinking back to my 48 months - all but 6 of which was spent executing MEDEVAC EVERY day for conventional, SOF, coalition, civilians, whomever, I just have a hard time when someone chalks it up to Lifeflight - really is a slap in the face to an entire community, and a crap-ton of soldiers. Always room for improvement everywhere across the force (recalling conversations with ODA teams in 07/08 bitching about recruitment and the quality of their new members). I wish you well.
                • This commment is unpublished.
                  eric_Strattoniii · 9 years ago
                  TCCC and the kit that goes with it are not SOF specific, not hard and are almost a throwback to Vietnam. When we first went through 18D they taught EMT-P protocols too, then TCCC came along and we realized we would get folks killed if we kept that way. Big Army did not go with it until at least late 04' from what I saw of their training and equipping overseas and at home. By the way, I am not Army, ALL branches of SOF go to the 18D courses now with the exception of the AF. MARSOC, NSW, Rangers, CivAffairs, etc..all go to the school house in Bragg. The Protocols are easy and they were not adopted by the Big Army in 2001 and while I know it is a "broad brush", brother, if there had been at least ONE time where ONE Sqd. did not tell me that those were their protocols then I would be second guessing myself but not once did it happen when I went to talk to them and that was as late as 2011'. You combine that with what I saw first hand and the had happen to me first hand, well, it's gonna color my views a bit. Hey, there are memos and papers all over this site alone that back up the view that the bosses in your community suck and do not want to chance the blowback.
                  I do like your back handed comment though
                  " Always room for improvement everywhere across the force (recalling conversations with ODA teams in 07/08 bitching about recruitment and the quality of their new members). I wish you well." not attempting to imply anything are you?
                  I don't expect Big Army to adapt or even adopt the things that SOF does as quickly, I also do not expect them to take 10 years to change their corporate culture in while two conflicts are going on.

                  Michael, I know how this BS works, I almost spit up my coffee when I saw the thing about the Army being the only branch to adopt TCCC in 2001'. The unfortunate part is that a lot of the 06's and above have still not lead men in combat so they are used to the pre-war mentality and still don't get it, all I can hope is that a lot of the good JOs and E7's and 8's continue to fight this and other idiocy as they rise up the ranks.

                  Jon, wish you well too, I don't blame the JOs and the Medics man, it is ALWAY the fault of the leadership in these cases. So instead of acting like this stuff is not accurate, screaming at the top of your lungs how these posts are not right, why not try to help continue to change things for the better? Your an 04 now, you have influence, use it.
          • This commment is unpublished.
            eric_Strattoniii · 9 years ago
            As for Butler, go to SOMA this year, I'll be there and so will Butler, this is a topic that is often taken up down there-"How to get the conventionals to buy in", because if you are then the medic I saw on the helo that day must have missed the class. I witnessed it time after time, your 68Ws not getting the support from a lot of the Army MDs and PAs, yeah, I know there are some good ones too but a lot don't want to trust their people. 68Ws were all about TCCC around 07' at least, might have been the total craze by 2005' even but even your own GOs admit that the Flight Medics were not getting what they needed. The only people who adopted TCCC protocols pretty quickly on the conventional side were the FMF Corpsman, Butler might be on that book but we have talked to him and complained about Big Army for years, it was not until the last couple of years your flight medics started coming on board really with new training protocols and the regular Army, despite what the book says, did not have wide spread use of those TCCC protocols until at least 2005'. We work with your guys, we are on your bases here and overseas, it is not those kids fault, it is again the fault of their leaders. There are loads of memos and papers on this site alone that back up my view, you can wish it was not the way it is, you can pray it was not the way it is but that was the way it was. You quote this and I even talk about it-"changes to the flight medic program.", yup, you are changing it, 10 years after the start of the wars. You keep drinking the Kool Aid Major. Again, the initial training for them was based on Flight EMT-Ps, some guys cannot make the transfer over to TCCC but they get it, it is just how is it implemented and who is their boss. I still see MDs not want to do things like we are in a combat zone, so please, save me the spin when your own org has admitted to need to change training.
          • This commment is unpublished.
            eric_Strattoniii · 9 years ago
            Major, I'm an 18D, big army did not incorporate TCCC fully into their training program till 2004-05, that paper might say they did but it is BS. At Camp Slayer the 68W were still using old NATO bandages, their bosses refused to train them on quickclot, they did not go by the mandated TCCC protocols, etc...Combat Life Saver was still teaching the old civilian protocols at the time.

            "At the start of the Global War on Terrorism in 2001, the Army was the only service that had incorporated Tactical Combat Casualty Care" This is just pure propaganda. TCCC was the result of the Navy, NSW in particular and it started in 1996,Butler was the lead. The USMC and Navy issued out actual blow out kits with the things that TCCC suggested prior to the start of OIF, the Army did not. If you saw guys that were 68Ws that were well trained on TQs, QC, Hespan/Hetastarch, etc....in 200 ' or prior, well, then you must have seen a Unicorn or at the very least a rare new animal. The Army was still not training it's people on volume expanders at the time and I did not see "Big Army" teaching the protocols until about 2005, so I am not sure what wazoo book you cite ha the balls to publish that but it is not accurate. Who knows, maybe a couple of GOs actually said they should implement TCCC protocols into 68Ws training but I did not see ANY of them familiar with the protocols before 05'. That would be like me saying, 'In 2005 I got the service to implement a new bandage and approve it and even though it did not get introduced out to everyone till a few years later I still say we had it in 2005' You are smoking something brother if you think they did adopt it in 2001'.
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    STC Technologies · 9 years ago
    Well I really enjoyed studying it. This information offered by you is very effective for good planning.STC Technologies
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Virginia Gentleman · 9 years ago
    Always a sobering but inspiring website to visit. I try to visit once a week before leading my congregation in worship. I will be in prayer for our forces in Afgh. once again today.
    Blessings on you Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    dustoff pilot · 9 years ago
    I have seen men bleed for an additional 42 minutes in the last 72 hours because a high ranking air force general prefers his Pedro assets to take the high profile/news worthy missions even when dustoff units are much much closer to the fight and could be there much sooner. I have seen pedro fly 25 minutes to a point of injury when a dustoff unit was already cleared for take off at a small fob 1.8km from the bleeding men. ***** PEDRO
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Hungerford · 9 years ago
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    Chris Higgins · 8 years ago
    Reading the comments here, Reading Michael's blog and talking with a number of soldiers serving in OEF, I think it is fair to say the system is broken. The top levels of the chain of command are so risk averse they will not send their folks out to pick up the wounded unless they feel guaranteed they will take no casualties. The number one complaint I hear from platoon leaders is getting proper medivac. These junior officers spend hours getting their soldiers properly taken care of. Getting someone with the authority to do the right thing when protocol needs modification is way too difficult. This is a problem with roots in the highest levels of the chain of command. It is sad this issue remains open 10 years into this war.
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