10 January 2011
Increasing progress is being made on the Army helicopter MEDEVAC problems. Media attention has been building and appears that it will soon break big. Communications are coming in spontaneously from key places. Support for improvement is snowballing.
Pilots and crews continue to help behind the scenes but the active duty folks cannot speak publicly due to career concerns. Without their help and encouragement, we would not have made it this far. There is more going on than I can now track.
09 January 2012
Jordan Schneider has done an excellent job helping to push the MEDEVAC Red Cross issue. Her energy seems bottomless. It was Jordan the active citizen who contacted Senator Charles Grassley, who quickly inquired to the Secretary of the Army, who passed the buck to CENTCOM.
Yet this is not per se a CENTCOM issue; this is an Army-wide policy failure. However, CENTCOM could fix the issue at least in Afghanistan.
03 January 2012
Los Angeles, California
Our Army medical evacuation helicopters in Afghanistan frequently come under fire. These helicopters are clearly marked with the Red Cross on a white background, signaling to the enemy that they are unarmed. The Red Cross is also a symbol from the Crusades. A poster found in a village listed crosses as symbols to be destroyed.
Unarmed medical helicopters lead to delays in medical evacuations due to the fact that Army medical helicopters need armed helicopter escorts. Also they often will not land on very hot landing zones, causing yet more delays. Air Force rescue helicopters do not wear Red Crosses and are heavily armed, and so can get in more quickly and safely.
30 December 2011
Los Angeles, California
Former Delta Force Commander “Dalton Fury” makes a very informed opinion on the MEDEVAC issue. Delta is the special forces of our special forces. Opinions from this community carry significant weight.
(This was published in Soldier of Fortune online. I’ve highlighted certain portions.)
BLEEDING OUT FOR POLITICS
By SOF Editor on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 5:26pm
History has been made in Iraq and Afghanistan, and unless you are a security contractor or special ops troop, your long months away from home and your family are quickly coming to an end. Our servicemen and women have fought an extraordinary fight against impossible odds and reestablished America’s military prowess around the world.
We’ve learned a great deal in the last 10 years of war, like the immediate power of miscommunication from the battlefield, or the importance of committing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) drone aircraft to an area before going in blind.
28 December 2011
Before Christmas, I met with General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey in Virginia. We talked for about 2.5 hours, mostly about Mexico.
My meetings with General McCaffrey have not been random. Among many other key experiences, he is a former “drug czar” with a deep military background. He was awarded three Purple Hearts and his son is currently in Afghanistan. Great Americans.
After that excellent meeting, I spent about two hours with David Martin at CBS. We did an on-camera interview about the loss of Chazray Clark, and Army Dustoff issues. Mr. Martin was well prepared. After the taping, we went through the unedited video of the attack that took Chazray Clark on 18 September. The CBS piece should run sometime just after New Year’s. (Date to be announced.)
I may still return to Afghanistan in late January, but it looks like that is off. Various invitations have come in from the Air Force, Marines and even the Army, but some Army officers are very angry about my Dustoff coverage. They issued what amounts to an all-points bulletin for me in Afghanistan and have said no embed will be granted.
12/22/2011 03:20 AM CST
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1036-11
December 22, 2011
The investigation into the 25-26 November engagement between U.S. and Pakistani military forces across the border has been completed. The findings and conclusions were forwarded to the Department through the chain of command. The results have also been shared with the Pakistani and Afghan governments, as well as key NATO leadership.
The investigating officer found that U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon. He also found that there was no intentional effort to target persons or places known to be part of the Pakistani military, or to deliberately provide inaccurate location information to Pakistani officials.
16 December 2011
This powerful statement comes from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. I like it.
Statement from the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos
The series of McClatchy news articles have cast doubt on the decision to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Sergeant Dakota Meyer. I stand firmly behind the process and the decision to award the Medal of Honor to Sgt Meyer.
The Medal of Honor is our nation's highest award for bravery. Fittingly, it involves the most demanding of investigations and multiple levels of review. This process, followed scrupulously in this and other cases, is designed to confirm with as much certainty as possible that the level of bravery and self sacrifice displayed is worthy of this singular honor. Selflessness of this caliber cannot be measured under ordinary circumstances, because the ordinary does not evoke the extraordinary. Rather, the Medal of Honor requires that a display of heroism take place under the most difficult circumstances our service members can face. With life and death hanging in the balance, brave warriors, like Sgt Meyer and those who have gone before him, override their natural, instinctive impulses of self preservation and risk their lives to save others. Our highest honors are reserved for those who perform such deeds in combat while facing the enemy and braving his fire.
16 December 2011
I’ve made it back to America after being away about one year. I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to be on US soil. This morning, in Tucson, two A-10 Warthogs flew overhead. The last time I saw A-10s was in Afghanistan. They were shooting just about every day.
Now for some sad news. Today there are more stories about Dakota Meyer. Dakota was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during his incredible and honorable service in the Marines. These stories are saddening because the more you read, the more you realize that Dakota is being tarred and feathered. This clearly is about politics and business.
And so this morning I emailed to someone I know to be close to Dakota, offering moral support. This American remains beside you.
A trusted source also sent this dissection of recent comments that are designed to cut down Dakota:
Jonathan Landay has alleged that the Marine Corps deliberately inflated the heroism of Sergeant Dakota Meyer. This allegation has tarnished the reputations of the Marine Corps and of Sergeant Meyer. Landay quoted not one individual. Instead, he used statements made two years ago by those on the battlefield.
13 December 2011
Many people remember Command Sergeant Major Robb Prosser. Robb is the man who shot the man who shot Erik Kurilla. This firefight is described in Gates of Fire.
I spent about five months with his unit in Iraq, and so Robb later invited me with his unit in Afghanistan. We were roommates in Kandahar. Robb was the Command Sergeant Major of the 5th Stryker Brigade.
Unfortunately, the upper leadership (above the brigade) had the brigade so spread out over a huge area of southern Afghanistan that it was near about impossible for Stryker leadership to keep tabs on everyone, much less make progress.
The Brigade Commander, Colonel Harry Tunnell, was later villainized by other officers and by the media, partly due to the fact that a small number of Soldiers committed murder. The vast majority of the brigade consisted of normal combat troops, meaning they were highly disciplined. But we know how this goes. If a few bad apples fall off a tree, we often chop down the whole tree or even the entire orchard.
11 December 2011
This weekend I spoke for several hours with a retired Special Forces Soldier. Much of the numerous conversations revolved around the terrible Army policy of sending unarmed Dustoff helicopters into combat. These helicopters are emblazoned with Red Crosses. The Red Crosses are intended to alert the enemy that the helicopters are unarmed. The Taliban and other enemies in Afghanistan do not abide by the Geneva Conventions and they shoot at the unarmed helicopters.
Some members of the Army, Air Force and Marines are very happy that I have taken on the cause of arming the Dustoff helicopters. However, some top brass in the Army is extremely angry to be called out for supporting the dangerous policy of sending unarmed Soldiers into combat.
The retired Green Beret friend, whom I sometimes call for advice, has warned me about this one. He wants the crosses off, and recognizes that this is a fight with people in big places. My friend warns, “If they can argue with facts, they will fight you with the facts. The facts are not on their side. You won that argument. When the facts are not on their side, they will argue the law. There is no law to argue here. The facts are against them and the law won’t help, and so they will shoot the messenger. Watch your back on this one.”
09 December 2011
Since I’ve started writing about the Dustoff problems, the Army has practically put a bounty on my head. A theater wide alert has gone out that I am to be denied access to ISAF bases in Afghanistan, and that my movements are to be reported. This went out through classified channels.
These dispatches are embarrassing for the Army. They have been allowing troops to die on battlefields in Afghanistan for politics. I don’t care about Army embeds, but I do care about my friends in uniform.
Recently, a combat unit invited me to go with them in about January. I kept it confidential for some time, but decided to mention it publicly on Facebook to check for Army reaction. The Army overreacted as predicted and put out the classified alert to report any sightings of me.
8 December 2011
The Soldiers were on a mission. One day had become the next and they had moved into an Afghan family compound until the morning. The moon crept along, shadows tracing arcs, the shine so strong it caused one to wonder if photosynthesis might still be occurring. Tonight, in Florida, the mockingbirds would sing beautifully through the night, perched on the branches, searching for mates, as they do under such moons.
This was enemy territory. Soldiers stood under a tree. A dim headlamp splashed blood red under the leaves, creating a fleeting, accidental art.
7 December 2011
If you ask ten service members “What is the difference between CASEVAC and MEDEVAC,” you might get six answers. Five might answer, “I don’t know.” The other five will surely give five different answers.
I’ve asked dozens and never gotten the same answer twice. The people I’ve asked include Army Dustoff pilots, Air Force Pedro pilots and crew, and one Marine officer. I’ve also asked plenty of Generals, Colonels, and senior-ranking enlisted folks.
Bottom line up front: if someone advertises that they know the definition, they don’t. A single, widely accepted definition does not exist. Definitions are easy to find in books here and there, but if you poke around enough, you will find that the definitions conflict.
05 December 2011
The US Army is today in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan. This was first pointed out to me by a very smart, highly experienced senior military person. Though he has never steered me wrong, this seemed a bit much. And so over the past month I looked into it.
He was right. We are in violation of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan. The explanation is straightforward.
04 December 2011
The call sign for British medical evacuation helicopters is “Tricky.” Tricky is constantly involved with medical evacuations in Afghanistan. Their methods vary significantly from ours. For that matter, US Army, Air Force and Marine methods vary dramatically from one another.
The underlying American philosophy for conventional troops is to scoop up casualties and get them back to the hospital, ideally while highly trained medics go to work.
US Special Operations Forces often bring their own surgeons. Likewise, the British use Chinook helicopters with surgical crews who can push blood and start doctor-level work right there in the bird.
03 December 2011
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
From World War II, we’ve heard reports that the enemy shot at Red Crosses emblazoned on medical vehicles, tents, and helmets. The Japanese were said to specifically target Red Crosses. The Germans were reported to do it from time to time. American troops in Europe and the Pacific sometimes covered the Red Crosses to avoid being hit.
World War II should have been enough to teach us a lesson. But the Army seemed dumb. There was a repeat in Korea. A retired military man forwarded a link to this Korean War video.
Notice at the 4min57sec mark, our troops are hiding a Red Cross. How many of our people were shot to pieces in WWII and Korea before they started covering the symbols?
Then our people fought in Vietnam. Our Dustoff helicopters sported Red Crosses and were shot down.
Dumb learns from pain. Insane just keeps bashing its head against the wall and expecting different results.
02 December 2011
A groundswell continues within the Dustoff community to have Red Crosses removed from MEDEVAC helicopters in Afghanistan. There is much behind the scenes work on this. We’ve also set up a private forum to exchange information and ideas. Numerous encouraging messages have come from loved ones of troops who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I had seen Chazray’s Mom and wife on television while in the tent in Afghanistan. It was the same tent Chazray had just moved into before the mission. Chazray was gone now, and I watched on the computer his Mom and wife back in America. Their courage was inspiring to Chazray’s buddies and to me.
01 December 2011
ComputerWorld recently interviewed me about smartphone security. My work happens in dangerous places where a working knowledge of phone security is essential.
The reality is that if you have a cell phone, many people can track you.
November 30, 2011 - 11:36 A.M.
Smartphone pocket spy tracking by drug cartels at Mexican border war zone?
Security Is Sexy
Michael Yon travels with U.S. combat troops overseas and has learned much about smartphones as pocket spies with actionable intelligence that is trackable and could mean life or death. While continuing to discuss smartphones as pocket spies with actionable intelligence that can be tracked, Yon pointed out that:
Smartphones are computers. Software is hacked every day. The speaker and camera can be turned on without a warning. This also is possible with normal landlines. The phone speaker can remotely activated without the phone ringing.
Chinese hackers were said to be turning on webcams and secretly transmitting. Information flows into and out of smartphones like water flows in rainforests. Information practically evaporates. Spyware can be installed. Wifi and Bluetooth are open doors.
Another layer can be achieved with special gear that intelligence agencies, various militaries, and others use.
During a mission in Iraq, a signal to a "hot" cell phone was picked up. The phone was in a mosque but there were loads of men in the mosque. Many had phones that were not hot. Our people moved in closer, parked outside and started chatting with people. When the hot cell phone happened to pass by, our guys could see the target. They quietly took the one guy around the corner and loaded him up. It's possible that other Iraqis did not realize he had been snagged.
- Death by Smartphone
- Beautiful Combat Camera on Auction
- RED AIR: A Private Forum
- How to Catch a Bird without a Gun
- Mark of the Beast: Evil Symbols in Afghanistan
- Pocket Spies
- What is Your Vote?
- Marked for Destruction
- That 1%
- Leadership: More than a Word
- Abandoned Mosque
- Question for Congressman Pompeo: What is your Position?
- Report to Congress
- Fool’s Gold & Troops’ Blood
- Afghanistan: Major General Disembedded from US Forces
- Night Walk with 4-4 Cav
- Pale Riders
- Dustoff Traction
- Machine Guns on Dustoffs
- Kids, Emails, and Dustoffs
- Golden Seconds
- Cutting Women in the Forgotten Province
- Moon over Afghanistan
- Thin Air
- Red Air: America’s Medevac Failure
- Watch Your Step
- Censorship Threat from US Army Public Affairs
- The Long Walk
- War Boy
- Threat from American Soldier
- Afghanistan Update: Taliban Losing on Battlefield, But Making Progress in Media War
- Every Step is Your Last
- Captain Chainsaw
- Peanut Butter is Good
- Afghan Faces
- One Night in Zhari
- New Britches
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