Monday, November 5, 2012

How Obama broke battlefield medevac

By Donald Sensing


U.S. GENERAL: OBAMA PARALYZED BY FEAR - Exclusive: Gen. Patrick Brady explains why president abandoned Americans in Benghazi

I worked for Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady when I arrived at the Pentagon in 1990. He earned the Medal of Honor in Vietnam flying medical evacuation helicopters, medevac. Before I get to the his column today, I want to present his Medal of Honor citation.
Place and date: Near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam, January 6, 1968.
Entered service at: Seattle, Wash.
Born: October 1, 1936, Philip, S. Dak.
Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Maj. Brady distinguished himself while serving in the Republic of Vietnam commanding a UH-1H ambulance helicopter, volunteered to rescue wounded men from a site in enemy held territory which was reported to be heavily defended and to be blanketed by fog. To reach the site he descended through heavy fog and smoke and hovered slowly along a valley trail, turning his ship sideward to blow away the fog with the backwash from his rotor blades. Despite the unchallenged, close-range enemy fire, he found the dangerously small site, where he successfully landed and evacuated 2 badly wounded South Vietnamese soldiers. He was then called to another area completely covered by dense fog where American casualties lay only 50 meters from the enemy. Two aircraft had previously been shot down and others had made unsuccessful attempts to reach this site earlier in the day. With unmatched skill and extraordinary courage, Maj. Brady made 4 flights to this embattled landing zone and successfully rescued all the wounded. On his third mission of the day Maj. Brady once again landed at a site surrounded by the enemy. The friendly ground force, pinned down by enemy fire, had been unable to reach and secure the landing zone. Although his aircraft had been badly damaged and his controls partially shot away during his initial entry into this area, he returned minutes later and rescued the remaining injured. Shortly thereafter, obtaining a replacement aircraft, Maj. Brady was requested to land in an enemy minefield where a platoon of American soldiers was trapped. A mine detonated near his helicopter, wounding 2 crewmembers and damaging his ship. In spite of this, he managed to fly 6 severely injured patients to medical aid. Throughout that day Maj. Brady utilized 3 helicopters to evacuate a total of 51 seriously wounded men, many of whom would have perished without prompt medical treatment. Maj. Brady's bravery was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.[6]
Notice near the end the key clause, "Throughout the day, Maj. Brady utilized 3 helicopters ... ." The reason he needed three was because the first two were shot to pieces so badly they couldn't take off again once he landed at the hospital's landing zone. At the Pentagon, his exec told me that one of Maj. Brady's copilots was killed by enemy fire. Multiple-star offficers I knew still spoke of him with quiet awe. As one three-star, himself highly decorated, told me, "The thing about General Brady's actions were that they went on for more than twelve hours. He didn't receive the Medal for one mad rush at the enemy that was over in ten minutes."

There's this anecdote, too:
During his first tour in Vietnam, then-Captain Brady served with the 57th Medical Detachment, where his commanding officer was the legendary Major Charles Kelly. After Kelly's death on July 1, 1964, Brady took command of the 57th Medical's Detachment A in Soc Trang. The following day, a Commander tossed the bullet that killed Kelly on Brady's desk in front of CPT and asked if they were going to stop flying so aggressively. Brady picked up the bullet and replied, "we are going to keep flying exactly the way Kelly taught us to fly, without hesitation, anytime, anywhere."[4] On his second tour, Brady, now a Major, was second in command of the 54th Medical Detachment.[5] It was during this tour that Brady was awarded his MOH.
During his two tours in Vietnam Brady flew over 2,000 combat missions and evacuated more than 5000 wounded.
What measure of respect did this man, a major general when I knew him, command? When the Army chief of staff wanted to talk to Maj. Gen. Brady, it was the four-star chief who walked down two Pentagon corridors and a flight of stairs to see the two-star subordinate; every other general officer, including other four-stars, made the trek to the chief's office when summoned.

Now to MG Brady's assessment of how President Obama has broken the air ambulance evacuation system.
We hear horror stories about patients waiting and dying because Dust Off didn’t launch or came too late. The launch standard in my unit in Vietnam was two minutes; today it is 15 minutes! Can anyone imagine a fire truck taking 15 minutes to get under way? I could go on and on, but one has to ask, why? Why the changes to an excellent, proven system? 
The answer is the Obama-Panetta Doctrine. In response to the horrible abandonment of dying Americans in Benghazi, Defense Secretary Panetta said: “(The) basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place.” 
On its face, that is a remarkable, indeed incomprehensible, change from America’s doctrine in past wars. By that standard, there would have been no Normandy or Inchon. In fact, I can’t think of a war we fought in which we didn’t go into harm’s way without real-time information or to save lives – something the president refused to do in Benghazi. Dust Off would never launch in Vietnam under that doctrine. 
To fully understand the doctrinal change, one has to understand President Obama. He has a dearth of understanding of our military and military matters. We hear he is uncomfortable in the presence of ranking military and seldom meets with them. He is not a person who can make decisions, and he takes an extraordinary amount of time to do so, leading to such unseemly labels for a commander in chief as “ditherer in chief.
President Obama may have set records for voting “present” on important issues. He cowers from crisis decisions. He is a politician who thinks only in terms of votes and his image. Although I was a psychology major back in the day (I’d love to hear a professional analyze risk and Obama), I won’t try to define his insides, but I believe he is risk-averse – fearful of risk – and that is the basis of the Obama-Panetta doctrine. 
This aversion for risk dominates Dust Off rescue operations where, in addition to an unconscionable reaction time, risk assessment is the primary consideration for mission launch – not patient care. In two years flying Dust Off in Vietnam, I never heard that term, nor did any Dust pilot I know. The ASOs, remote from the battle, have developed time-consuming algorithms to analyze risk while the patient bleeds, something that’s impossible to do by anyone other than the pilot and the ground forces at the scene. 
And Obama’s terror of risk contributed to the massacre of Americans by terrorists in Benghazi. We hear that the president did not even convene the Counterterrorism Security Group while the Benghazi terrorist massacre was visually and verbally available in real time. That is like ignoring FEMA during Hurricane Sandy. But once you bring in a group labeled anti-terrorist, you have to acknowledge terror exists, something the president is loath to do. 
My veteran friends are horrified by the Obama-Panetta doctrine. At least 359 retired flag officers support Mitt Romney – only five that I know of support Obama. Some 150 former prisoners of war also support Romney; I know of none who support Obama. 
America needs to listen to these veterans. They understand leadership. They know how to deal with risk in war. They would not want this man with them in combat or crisis. They never left a needy comrade behind. Obama did.
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