Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

13 Military Pilots Rebuke the Joint Chiefs of Staff


image001An overview of harmful Army medical evacuation practices not endorsed by other service branches, and a response to official arguments defending this policy provided by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).

30 January 2012


Michael Yon is a combat writer, and a former member of the US Army Special Forces.  The New York Times noted in 2008 that he’d spent more time embedded with combat units than any other journalist in Iraq, and the reporting on his blog won the Weblog Award in 2005, 2007, and 2008.  It is probable that he has also spent more time with combat troops in Afghanistan than any writer, photographer, or journalist of any sort.  He is widely respected inside the military and beyond for the quality of his journalism, and his pursuit of the truth alongside US and allied combat personnel in the most dangerous theaters of operation.

On 18 September 2011, Mr. Yon accompanied an element of the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division, the 4-4 Cav, on a nighttime combat operation in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.  During this mission the unit was attacked with an Improvised Explosive Device, deafening one soldier, and amputating both legs and one arm of a second—Specialist Chazray Clark.  Specialist Clark was conscious and communicating up until the time he was evacuated.

US and allied forces have two primary helicopter medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) assets in Kandahar: US Army “Dustoff” flights, and US Air Force “Pedro” flights.  Unlike Army Dustoff flights, the Pedro flights—as well as British, Dutch, US Marines, Navy, and US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) medical flights—do not bear the Red Cross.  The core reasons for this difference involve rapid reaction and maximum flexibility with limited air assets.

Read more: 13 Military Pilots Rebuke the Joint Chiefs of Staff

British Officer Slams US Army on Growing MEDEVAC Debacle


28 January 2012

While reading traffic in a closed forum between current and former military officers, I stumbled across this message from a British officer.  I’ve known him since the Iraq days, and he’s also served in Afghanistan.  He’s an honest and very smart officer, and so I pay close attention to him.  With his permission, I reprint:

Message from British officer

I've been following Michael's work for years and I watched that painful video some while ago.

Read more: British Officer Slams US Army on Growing MEDEVAC Debacle

Another Dustoff Pilot says Delays Costing Lives


(The following letter appeared on the Army Times website.)


“What the hell happened to Medevac, sir?”

That was a question an angry sergeant asked me as I was eating chow last February at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. I didn’t understand the question or the anger in his voice at the time, but I do now and would like to try to offer an explanation.

In the past, medical evacuation units reported to a medical command. These Medevac units had aviation assets, namely Black Hawk helicopters, but at the end of the day, Medical Service Corps officers were in charge. Recently, the Medevac units were realigned to fall under an aviation command as a part of the new General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB).

My unit, the 571st Medical Company (AA) became C Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, and our new command decided to implement new Medevac procedures. Ultimately, it was decided that Medevac aircraft would require gunship support for all off-FOB missions even if the landing zone was reported secure.

Read more: Another Dustoff Pilot says Delays Costing Lives



27 January 2012

The MEDEVAC issue continues to grow.  There have been many articles and it's becoming difficult to keep up.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff is preparing something for Congress.  My guess based on conversations is that JCS will try deflection and will not solve the issue.  SecDef has done nothing, to my knowledge.  And so this is set to become an election issue.

This list below is not comprehensive but can be a helpful resource.

Please listen to my interview with Dennis Miller.

Op-eds by James Simpson

American Thinker


Breitbart Big Peace

Examiner.com—D.C. Examiner

Washington Times


Read more: MEDEVAC Links

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:

Read more: Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilot

A Young Iranian Woman Writes


25 January 2012

A young Iranian woman has written to me off and on for a couple of years.  Yesterday she sent a note.

I responded in part with a few questions:

What do young Iranians think about our government and about the Iranian government?  Also, do you think there will be war?

Read more: A Young Iranian Woman Writes

Messages from Joint Chiefs of Staff


23 January 2012

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) provided a document to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) about MEDEVAC issues in Afghanistan.  The document was provided with no cover or signature page.  Congressman Todd Akin (MO-2), a senior HASC member, received that document.  A staffer for Mr. Akin passed the letter to me asking questions.

I publicly acknowledged receipt of the JCS letter before publishing it.  My acknowledgement prompted an email to me from the Public Affairs Officer for the Vice Chairman of the JCS.

Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Seiber (Public Affairs Officer to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) wrote to me, “Your citing of a JCS letter is inaccurate.  Please correct/update your website accordingly.  Background information is below:"  I immediately contacted Congressman Akin’s office.  A staffer again confirmed that this document came from JCS to HASC.  The denial by JCS itched for explanation.  JCS then backtracked, saying it had provided the letter to HASC, and “We don't necessarily refute what is in the document itself, it's just a matter that it isn't a Joint Staff document.”

Read more: Messages from Joint Chiefs of Staff

Time to Leave Afghanistan


21 January 2012

This war is going to turn out badly. We are wasting lives and resources while the United States decays and other threats emerge.  We led the horse to water.

Importantly, there is no value in pretending that Pakistan is an ally. We should wish the best of luck to the Afghans, and the many peaceful Pakistanis, and accelerate our withdrawal of our main battle force. The US never has been serious about Afghanistan. Under General Petraeus we were starting to gain ground, but the current trajectory will land us in the mud.

The enemies will never beat us in Afghanistan.  Force on force, the Taliban are weak by comparison.  Yet this is their home.  There is only so much we can do at this extreme cost for the many good Afghan people.  We must reduce our main effort and concentrate on other matters.  Time to come home.


Michael Yon

JCS: Curiouser and Curiouser

1 Comment

19 January 2012

I published a letter that I received from Congressman Todd Akin's office.  Mr. Akin is on the House Armed Services Committee.  According to Mr. Akin's office, HASC received the letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  After I published the letter, I read an email to me from a Public Affairs Officer at JCS saying JCS didn't author the letter.

Curiouser and Curiouser.

And so just now I contacted a staffer at Congressman Akin's office who responds:

Read more: JCS: Curiouser and Curiouser

Joint Chiefs of Staff: Bogus Report to Congress


19 January 2012

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a bogus letter on MEDEVAC to the House Armed Services Committee.  The JCS letter is so filled with errors and deceptions that it has taken more than a week for me to respond.  The JCS directly refutes my work on MEDEVAC.

Thirteen pilots have read my draft response.  Ten of those pilots are Pedro or Dustoff.  (Five each.)  The remaining three have or do fly MEDEVAC escort in Afghanistan.  Twelve are active duty and one is retired.  All have served in Afghanistan or are there.  Some also served in Iraq.  Together they have done about 25 combat tours.

Details are crucial.   Other veterans, and civilians, are providing feedback to keep my response to the JCS accurate.  My response should be ready by Monday.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense, Senators, and Representatives are cautioned to avoid embarrassment by not taking the JCS letter at face value.

Representative Todd Akin (MO-2) has rejected the JCS letter and directly contacted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The JCS letter to the HASC:


Read more: Joint Chiefs of Staff: Bogus Report to Congress

Marine Urination Video: Some Thoughts


18 January 2012

The bad judgment exercised by a handful of Marines should be treated like an ND: a Negligent Discharge.  In the US military, if you “accidentally” pull the trigger and launch an unplanned bullet downrange, you should not even bother trying to explain away the “accident.”  If that bullet kills someone, it’s called Negligent Homicide.  The bullet did not fire accidentally; it was fired negligently.  Bottom line.

This should be treated like a negligent discharge of the penis, and of the video camera, and then of common sense.  What a dumb thing to do.   And super dumb to video tape it.  And ultra-dumb to then let the video make it to the Internet.

Read more: Marine Urination Video: Some Thoughts

Danger For Senators and Representatives


Army Deceptions May Cause Embarrassment


17 January 2012

The Army has been deceiving members of Congress about MEDEVAC issues in Afghanistan.  This poses a danger for civilian leadership who may run with the Army information, expecting accuracy in detail and in spirit, only to be ridiculed later.

In Afghanistan, I first brought up the MEDEVAC issue at Task Force Spartan in Zhari District, but this was above their level.  There was excellent leadership at TF Spartan, yet nothing to push because there was little they could do.

Next, Regional Command South in Kandahar addressed the issue but did nothing.

Next, the IJC (combatant command in Kabul) did nothing.  The issue was taken up by ISAF HQ in Kabul, who did nothing. (When I write, “nothing,” it means they wrote false accounts of the events and demanded that I publish them.  I refused.)

Read more: Danger For Senators and Representatives

AfCats - Wild Cats of Afghanistan



12 January 2012

First came the rumors.  Innumerable US Soldiers claimed to have seen large cats in Kandahar Province.  More than once I saw Afghan Soldiers laugh it off, saying our folks were seeing apparitions.  The Afghans would say, yes, there can be big cats in the mountains, but not here.

But time after time, men said they saw the cats with night vision gear, thermals, or in broad daylight.  Some who made these claims were country boys who grew up hunting, and so their words carried particular weight.  They said the cats did not just come and vanish quickly, but our men often watched the cats for minutes at a time.  They said the cats could even jump over the large Afghan walls.

Read more: AfCats - Wild Cats of Afghanistan

Experienced Camera Gear for Sale


11 January 2012

Many folks have asked me about selling camera gear.  I’m starting to offload some glass.  These four Canon lenses have all been used downrange either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both, and probably in many other countries.  This gear is in great condition.  Many of my published photos were made through this glass.

The four lenses are on eBay and bidding starts at 50% off new price.

Read more: Experienced Camera Gear for Sale



20070501 XY2I0425-1000Letter from home

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.

Read more: MEDEVAC/CASEVAC Links

Take Me to Your Leader (If you have one)


Dustoff-IMG 8019-1000a

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.

Read more: Take Me to Your Leader (If you have one)

Passing the MEDEVAC Buck


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.

Read more: Passing the MEDEVAC Buck

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