Michael's Dispatches

Did Green Berets and MEDEVAC Violate Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan?



491490-1000Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk in Afghanistan (photo credit DVIDS)

22 April 2012

A video is circulating of "Green Berets" in combat.  The Soldiers are hammering away with a minigun and other weapons.  An A-10 can be seen rolling in and shooting.  Casualties are taken, and after the seven minute mark in the video, an apparent Special Forces Soldier can be seen directing that ammunition be brought in on a MEDEVAC bird.

Now, if the bird were marked with a Red Cross (or other approved symbol), ammo delivery would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

However, the bird lands and there are no  markings such as Red Crosses.   This is fine.  No violations.

The bird looks like an HH-60G flown by Air Force Pedro.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Johnie_r · 9 years ago
    if it was an HH-60 from the AF, if it didn't have red cross markings, it wasn't a Medevac.

    you know the difference between CSAR/PR, CASEVAC, and MEDEVAC. in this write up you're being intentionally disingenuous.

    you did a photo essay back about '07-'08 about context. why have you stepped away from your integrity now?

    words have meanings, and you know it.

    having re-read your essay I can back up and say that while not being disingenuous, you're skirting with it. my reply was based off my first impression of your piece, and required me to go back and parse it, unemotionally. but I think that may have been your intent. to slide one by the shallow readers.

    you can do better than that. you have in the past.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Michael Yon Author · 9 years ago
      The entire dispatch takes about 15 seconds to read. 15 seconds... In those 15 seconds, the dispatch says three different times that no violation occurred. With just 15 seconds of easy reading before commenting, much embarrassment can be saved.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      RVN SF VET · 9 years ago
      This reader is aware of the meaningless and foolish distinction made by the Army. If a chopper is coming in to evacuate casualties; I call it a MEDEVAC because that is functionally what it is doing. The Army can take its definitions and shove them.

      The Pave Low UH-60 could either be from SOAR or the Air Force as both have refueling probes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Heath · 9 years ago
    Our politicians and the military leadership needs to support the U.S. Troops. Start with the much needed common sense changes to Medevacs.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    missouriangel · 9 years ago
    who are we fighting that follow geneva convention rules??
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Ryden · 9 years ago
      No one, but it's never mattered since the Geneva conventions never ever has stipulated the Medical vehicles need to be identified with Red Crosses. It's just BS lies from Army brass that are afraid of loosing control over "their" helicopters if the Red Crosses are replaced with Mini-guns and .50 cals.

      Fact is that if they (those responsible for obstructing the removal of Red Crosses) hadn't been doing this for themselves it would've constituted outright treason.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dang · 9 years ago
    Practicing "preventive medicine" - Pat Brady, 1964
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Craig · 9 years ago
    Correct me if I'm wrong but, even if the chopper showed up with the target - I mean Crusader symbol - I mean cross- painted on it, it still wouldn't be a violation because nobody we're fighting in Afghanistan is signatory to the Geneva Conventions. They just don't apply there, period.

    Which still wouldn't make the Army any less criminally stupid for putting those markings on helicopters anywhere, but especially in Afghanistan.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevin · 9 years ago
    in this photo the chopper in question has a mini-gun on it. So it can't be a medivac. Probably a Pedro
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MEDEVACmatters · 9 years ago
    From a published interview with Robert Gates on June 12, 2011:

    Q. [Defense News]Do problems have to be tackled more innovatively?

    A. [Secretary of Defense Robert Gates] The problem that we face is that in these wars we have become incredibly joint operationally, but we've made very little progress in becoming joint in terms of procurement and acquisition.

    There are some examples that the Marine Corps and the Army are working together on some UAVs and there are some other examples, but one of the programs that I killed in '09 was a whole new helicopter program for the Air Force for search and rescue. You know how long it's been since we had a pilot shot down? So the main search and rescue that's going on is in fact MEDEVAC.

    You know, the Air Force flew something like 9,700 MEDEVAC missions last year in Afghanistan. So why were they going to build a brand new search-and-rescue helicopter that was really only for the Air Force?"

    [end of quote]

    In 2009 Gates ordered that USAF Pedro crews be included in the rotation for MEDEVAC missions, even while they maintained a priority purpose for the MUCH rarer pilot rescue scenarios.

    So the USAF Pedro units have flown a relatively few actual CSAR missions in Afghanistan, but as of June 2011 they had flown over 9,700 MEDEVAC missions.

    Anyone who keeps arguing that Pedros don't fly MEDEVAC missions is beating a dead horse. They do and they fly them without Red Crosses and with mini-guns or .50 caliber machine guns. The artificial distinction that the Army keeps trying to make is a false one that defies reality.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    nellie · 9 years ago
    Why the hang-up with fine definition between all the evac roles? Leave the Red Crosses off and let the nearest/quickest/briefed helo do the lift - and, if time permits, and the situation dictates, ammunition on the inbound seems like common sense?.......or is this too simple/obvious for the politicians/hierarchy
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joseph J Ogershok Jr · 9 years ago
    I am with Johnie on this one. The only reason I looked at it was the way the question was worded. It led me to believe that my formal collegues "stepped on it." I am aware of Michael's bent on getting MEDEVACS to change their tactics, including their markings, in this war with those who have never signed onto the "convention." Bottom line: I you are in a fair fight; your tactics suck!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mary · 9 years ago
    I'd like to see you do articles showing how jihadists are following the Geneva Convention . . .
    The enemy only acknowledges and follows Sharia law (or they can be killed as apostate).
    Our troops need to follow the USMC. International law is only a false front.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Ryden · 9 years ago
      So what if the Talibans don't follow the Geneva Conventions? They're not even bound to since they didn't sign it. Do you want us to loose the moral high ground by behaving exactly like them? Of course not, that'd be childish. Two wrongs doesn't make one right.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    karen · 9 years ago
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jacki · 3 years ago
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