Michael's Dispatches

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.)

Next, thanks to concerned readers, many letters went to Representatives and Senators.  Some elected leaders took steps.

Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa) wrote to the Secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh.  Secretary McHugh responded to Senator Grassley with bogus statements and passed the buck to CENTCOM.  Secretary McHugh’s letter is published here.

CENTCOM rightfully rejected this weak bureaucratic maneuver and passed it back to the Army in Washington, where it belonged in the first place.

CENTCOM made no false statements, to my knowledge.  The Commanding General of CENTCOM is the highly respected General James Mattis, USMC.

Importantly, General Mattis has a war in Afghanistan to think about, and a potential war with Iran unfolding, not to mention other responsibilities in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.  He’s no doubt disgusted with this bureaucratic waste of energy.  The Marines and Air Force, from what I can derive, are equally repulsed with the Army maneuvering.

The struggle went higher than the Army when the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a deceptive communiqué to the House Armed Services Committee.  The JCS letter directly addresses my dispatches on the MEDEVAC failures.

HASC forwarded the JCS missive to Representatives.

The Honorable W. Todd Akin represents the 2nd District of Missouri.  His office forwarded the JCS statement to me, asking questions.

Congressman Akin’s office did not take the word of JCS.  His office also did not take my word.  I respect that.  Mr. Akin’s team conducted its own investigation and is taking up this issue.

Mr. Todd Akin, from “The Show-Me State,” is on point.  The first serious government credit goes to his team.

Congressman Akin is demonstrating how to effectively represent constituents and how to exercise oversight of the executive branch and the military.

As with Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa), Senator Jon Kyl (Arizona) deserves credit for taking the step of contacting the military.  However, when the Army responded with straw, the apparently well-intentioned Senators may have dropped the issue.  At minimum the Senators are in danger of repeating false information supplied to them in bad faith.

There is much going on with other members of government, and the Army is trying to get ahead of it.

Take the above letter from Brigadier General David Bishop to Senator Jon Kyl.  If Senator Kyl were to use this information in good faith on television, the Dustoff and Pedro communities might think Senator Kyl is selling out service members.  In fact, the good Senator might be doing what he thought was best, unaware that he had been ill advised by an Army general.

My previous dispatches such as Red Air, and Fool’s Gold & Troops’ Blood, have addressed many of the deceptions coming from the Army.

Civilian leadership is strongly encouraged to use maximum circumspection before quoting the above letter from BG David Bishop, or the letter from JCS.

I have not yet published the complex JCS letter.  Several more days are needed to properly counter; I’ve drafted a response but am running it by various Air Force Pedro and Army Dustoff pilots, and combat-experienced officers and NCOs.  It takes time to ensure the facts.

What we know:

The Army has affixed its final stamp that no policy changes are underway.  SecArmy punted to CENTCOM (a joint command under Marine General James Mattis), who booted it back to Big Army.  JCS wrote their own letter.

SecArmy is the end of the Army road, and JCS is the end of the uniformed military road.

Three layers remain: Secretary of Defense; President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief; Voters.

Now to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  Secretary Panetta seems like a fair man.  There is a chance he will intervene.  If Secretary Panetta stops the buck, that’s it.  Credit to SecDef.  Case closed.

If Secretary Panetta lets it slide, the next stop is President Obama.

Some people have put this on President Obama, but that is inappropriate.  The Dustoff Red Cross policy, for instance, has passed through many presidencies.  Today, this has not yet worked its way through the current chain of command.

All issues should be solved at the lowest possible level.  This has failed.  The Army has failed.  JCS has failed.  If this makes it to President Obama, and he sets it straight, the credit goes to the President.

If the SecDef passes it and the President does not take it, this becomes an election issue about troop welfare.  Ultimately, the buck stops with voters.

CBS is working on a major nightly news story about the Dustoff MEDEVAC issue.  I do not know when it will air.  CBS interviewed numerous people, including me.  I will publish the schedule immediately upon notification from CBS.

Finally, a huge Thank You to the people who are quietly making this happen.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stan Reck · 9 years ago
    We have your six...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Annie Gaines · 9 years ago
    No surprise...don't you know the name of the game is to by-pass Congress anyway now days? They aren't the only ones in the dark. The whole country is...all we get is lies out of Washington...and sometimes just silence if it's a really good question they are asked. No longer a government of, by and for the people, Mike. And that includes wars and everything else in the country. Kyle is a compromiser...He cut our throats here in Arizona several years ago with the border and the invasion. So I'm not surprised he conveniently believes what he is told without really digging into it. He's not running next election...thank goodness.
    You have patience Mr. Yon...I'll say that for you. A lesser man would have given up long ago. That's what they all count on...wearing you down and round and round in circles.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jdm · 9 years ago
    Really? He says it took 59 minutes when the standard is 60?
    How convenient.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Bill Staggs · 9 years ago
      The question is not did this brave solder get aid with-in the proscribed time frame... it is : did he receive it in the shortest possible time frame.

      B.S. is not that hard to sense... it always smells!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Heywood Jablomi · 9 years ago
    Time to flush the Chiefs.

    I am sick and tired of old men sending young men in harm's way.

    If they exhibited any integrity or moral courage, I would feel better. But these sorts of bureaucratic tussles over fiefdoms and assets are disgusting. The consequences are real deaths.

    Shame. The Secretary of the Army should be ashamed of himself. The Joint Chiefs should be ashamed of themselves.

    These gentlemen are the ones who are supposed to do their utmost to take care of soldiers. Instead, they are protecting their parochial interests.

    Disgusting. Utterly disgusting.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike McK · 9 years ago
    not a very smooth operator considering how well this issue is documented and he attempts to sweep it under the rug. I'd expect this half a$$ answer from a 2nd Lt on their first deployment. I hope this blows back on him big time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Dettmer · 9 years ago
    If you can't meet the standards, then change the standards to what you can meet. Looks like they made the standard something they could meet, regardless of its impact on survival/human life.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    John F · 9 years ago
    An even bigger thanks to the person who is "not so quietly" making this happen. We need more Michael Yons in this world. Too much BS going on for him to identify disclose and oppose all by himself. Not that he isn't giving it a good try.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Good Captain · 9 years ago
    Michael's work demonstrates the 60 minute policy acts as an impediment to better serving Army wounded (& dying). The only goal worth pursuing IMO is a policy which gives any and all our service men/women the best chance of survival possible. Unnecessary delay caused by any policy in this context should properly raise questions on the need(s) for a policy that clearly fails to delivers critical lifesaving services to wounded service members as fast as other US Armed services could deliver the service. The real issue is why?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim Long · 9 years ago
    Interesting that it is not even signed by the Chief of Staff, but rather his DAC (Dept of Army Civilian) Deputy (DCOS). Not saying that is wasn't approved by the Chief (maybe he was out of the office that day...) but you have to wonder if he wanted to avoid direct fingerprints. And even nicer would have been for it to have been signed by the Commander.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      ltcdmward · 9 years ago
      Precisely. Just another "work count" to clear out the "IN BOX" don't ya know. Apparently, replies to US Senators have no particular priority.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon Author · 9 years ago
    The General did not even bother to sign the letter that deals with troop welfare, and the loss of Chazray Clark.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      MIchael Barnett · 9 years ago
      Michael, it seems the same person signed the letter I scanned and sent to you. Do the signatures look like they were applied by an autopen or other reproductive method (i.e. are they identical)?
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Michael Yon Author · 9 years ago
        Michael Barnett -- good catch and I wondered same, so I checked. They are slightly different, but definitely different. (Unless they have autopen that is smart enough to make slight differences, am thinking it's authentically BS.)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MacvTm19 · 9 years ago
    What to hell do you expect when you have a CIF that wouldn't even make a good boy scout. We have a marxist in the WH who will BS everyone and he has plenty of DemocRAT minions that will do the same !!!!! He has the generals afraid of their own shadows !!! You can't fight a war with you hands tied behind your backs just as the DemocRATS did in Vietnam.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Walt · 9 years ago
    So proud of you Michael, you have what many in our society, both military & civilian, lack....integrity.

    Your efforts on behalf of the young men who are sent out to face death every day is humbling to say the least.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark Mako · 9 years ago
    This article also appears in the Early Bird - a link used by many gov't/military personnel to consolidate daily news articles. I've written my VA Congressman and both Senators - no prely other than the standard computer response. All I want to know is when is someone going to take action? DOD has kicked this can around long enough. It's time to start kicking some butt.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert Byrne · 9 years ago
    Michael, Sir I greatly respect your efforts and concern for our military. In reading the general's reply; it seems they are addressing the issue of shortest route to surgical facility. While this real issue is shortest TIME to POINT OF INJURY; and then shortest route to surgical facility. Stay strong.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Greg Hale · 9 years ago
    There used to be a time when a war was healthy for the military, unfortunatly, too many in upper management were too young for Vietnam, managed not to be at the tailhook convention or were otherwise keeping their noses clean and not taking any career chances. These political A-holes need to go. Now. You have no business commanding warriors. Resign and go collect your pension, but for gods sake quit putting these young men and women in harms way in order to protect your backside. Do what is right for once in your life.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jonv · 9 years ago
    I wrote my congressman about this and got a form letter back about defense spending. Keep it up Michael. We'll work on it from our end.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jason · 9 years ago
    The issue is not the time frame...Right?

    Why can't they see the folly of their ways, JUST TAKE DOWN THE RED CROSS!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kyle · 9 years ago
    I think the most telling thing is the fact that the DoD goal as quoted is 60 min from POI to surgical facility and they state it took 59 min for SPC Clark. Seriously, one whole minuite under the standard? WOW!!! Well it looks like in Michaels video the helo didn't depart with the wounded untill approx 52 min after the first call and landed back at KAF at the 65 min mark you be the judge.

    BG Bishop is making it a point that it was done within standard? Was it within the standard of 59 min,or not at 65 min. SPC Clark died because someone would not allow the tool box to be opened and used. The video shows the troops back at the LZ waiting for a helo at approx 22 min after the IED, 27 min later the helo showed up.

    Someone go REWRITE the standard now that will let the guys on the ground get the helicopter support they need and have avalable to them.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    DUSTOFF Crew Chief · 7 years ago
    First , I know I'm beating a dead horse and this is pretty much a dead post but, it needs to be said. I think the Geneva Convention argument is a moot point. The Geneva Convention chapter regarding the "no firing on the red cross/crescent" rules only apply if both adversaries agree on the exact time and route of travel. Essentially it has to be a preplanned, agreed upon schedule for medical flights that cannot deviate from the assigned route. That doesn't even consider the point that the last enemy we faced that honored the red cross was Nazi Germany. Seriously, give me something more than my M4 to defend myself when I'm heading into the shit to pick up our wounded.

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