Michael's Dispatches

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.

The new policy often caused significant delays in our response time, namely in the southern Multi-National Division-Baghdad area at FOB Kalsu, and a few soldiers may have died as a result. I will say that after seven years of flying Medevac missions, including three Iraq tours, I believe without a doubt that soldiers who could have lived died due to these new policies, but that is only my opinion based on experience.

The launch policies were against the recommendations of the senior officers in my unit, and conflicted with MND-B Medevac policy, but the new restriction remained and we were forced to wait to launch.

In retrospect, the sergeant who spoke to me had every right to be upset since we were not always allowed to rapidly evacuate his soldiers when they were wounded. How upset would you be if your friend was dying and Medevac was not allowed to come immediately?

As one of the pilots in C Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, I would like to apologize to the soldiers in the southern Baghdad area of operations for the delays in Medevac from November 2006 until May 2007. The Medevac flight crews tried our best to launch as fast as possible, despite the unnecessary delays.

I was even relieved of my duties for launching immediately to save a fellow soldier after being instructed to wait 25 more minutes to launch.

Our mission has never been easy, but it was always simple: Launch as fast as possible, fly as fast as possible and give the wounded the best chance to survive. The new policies of the 1st Cavalry GSAB prevented us from doing just that, and for the first time in seven years of flying Medevac, I am ashamed to be a part of this mission.

It would be easy to focus on the thousands of Medevac missions that my unit performed without delay and ignore the small percentage that went so very wrong. I, however, believe we need to do the opposite and focus on those soldiers we failed due to a flawed policy and an arrogant command.

I hope members of the 1st Cavalry Division take notice to what I have written and help me fix the problems with Medevac before the next combat tour. I tried my best and was reprimanded, relieved and insulted by my battalion commander.
I hope that the next time one of our Medevac crews is sitting down at chow and a soldier walks over to speak, it is to say, “Thank you for a job well done.”

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eric V. Brodeur
Fort Carson, Colo.
Newcastle, Calif.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    in_awe · 9 years ago
    The courage of an active duty soldier to publicly comment on a broken policy is heartening. While this letter was related to incidents in Iraq in 2006-2007, pilots and others with current or recent deployments in Afghanistan are having the same complaints 5 years later. What has the Army done to investigate alternative policies to save more lives?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Glenn F. · 9 years ago
    Wow! Thank you, CWO Brodeur, for your candid remarks. This shows that not ALL the idiocy is confined to those with stars on their shoulders.

    How about a little common sense, folks? Listen to those who do the heavy lifting for a change!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    jay · 9 years ago
    Wow.. that pretty much sums it up and you would think enough to help get the policy changed. Command needs to get on board asap.. Thanks Michael
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kris Singleton · 9 years ago
    all I've got to say is:

    "myonsup Support for Michael Yon 1 N US $50.00 US $50.00"

    You've been meaning to do it, so go ahead and pull the trigger. He's going to get this fixed, quicker than it would have without him, so let's pitch in.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Some Sock puppet · 9 years ago
    The corruptive nature of bureaucracy is really starting to piss me off.

    I want our soldiers in the best and strongest, fastest, most lethal, terrifying **** in existence and coming home alive to share that knowledge and protect the country.

    Why do these parasites keep getting in between those that do things properly and things that need to be done?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lani · 9 years ago
    Give us the names of the Chain of Command and we'll show the arrogant commanders what it's like to be under fire. "Public out cry wild fire." As a former CAV Cpt. I am embarrassed. My father commanded A Trp 1/9 Cav in 66-67 and I know he too would be ashamed. Time to light 'em up!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cyndy Marvin · 9 years ago
    I believe this message has expressed it all. I pray the problem(s) will be fixed very soon. Thank you CWO Brodeur for your statement, thank you Michael for yours and the sharing of this one. May God bless you both.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Willie · 9 years ago
    I wonder if the Battalion Commander was Major General Daniel B. Allyn ?? Whoever it was is a ticket-punching bullshitter which is the reason why I decided to bail on ROTC in college. Can anyone suggest a way to verify who this commending officer was ??
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Marlin Helms · 9 years ago
    Thank you Michael, I have been sympathetic to your posts on the problem of the Dustoffs, but the Warrant Officer's letter really brings the issue into a much better perspective of the problem. We seem to have returned to the problem of armchair quarterbacks of the Vietnam War era.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry · 9 years ago
    CWO Brodeur,
    Thank you sir for having the guts to speak up about this travesty. It is so hard to understand why command would reprimand, relieve and insult a man and his crew who are in the business of saving precious lives. Perhaps command should put themselves in a position on the battlefield then be told it would be 25 extra minutes before they could be extracted.
    Always thanks to you Michael for pursuing this dilemma.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Flytiger · 9 years ago
    How about an IG Investigation of that Commander and in fact the policy differences causing the reaction time problems as a starter. 1st Cav is a standup Division and the CG then or even now, need's to have a hard look at this.
    If you want the greeting "First Team" to remain what it has in the past you must make sure that team continues to perform at the 100% level and if there are weak links they need to go...out....NOW!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    GerryAtrickPilot · 9 years ago
    Here are the responses to the original letter:


  • This commment is unpublished.
    John-Capt in ANG · 9 years ago
    Having had issues with Command, his letter is a mixed blessing. Unfortunately, he was, "relieved of his duties," which opens up the validity of the letter to fallacy of logic attacks (attacking his character, rather than the issue). It's a really rocky road when you tell the parents their baby is ugly, when the parents are your direct chain of command. I know this, unfortunately, from 1st hand experience.

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