YON: Golden Seconds


[snip]…”The Golden Hour is crucial to survival of the seriously wounded.  There also are Golden Minutes.  The already-bleeding wounded are not the only ones in danger.  The casualties provide a golden opportunity for the enemy to shoot down a helicopter and attack the preoccupied ground force.  For the incoming helicopters, and ground forces in combat, minutes are crucial.  Delay provides opportunity for the enemy to prepare to attack the helicopter, or in the case of Chazray Clark, ground forces waited on an open LZ for close to half an hour believing the helicopter would arrive quickly.

In that area, known as Zhari District, the enemy employs numerous weapons that can take down a helicopter.  The powerful 82mm recoilless rifles regularly destroy our heavily armored vehicles.  One shot from an 82 and the helicopter is finished.  The far-less-powerful RPG will also do the job.

The failure I videotaped occurred in September 2011.  The month before, 38 people including a SEAL team died when an RPG downed their helicopter.  The investigation led by Brigadier General Jeffrey Colt would conclude, “The shoot down was not the result of a baited ambush, but rather the result of the enemy being at a heightened state of alert…”

In regard to MEDEVAC, the Army contends that top cover from Apache attack helicopters can replace, or are superior to, machine guns on Dustoffs.  Veterans of ground combat will scoff at the notion.  Furthermore, putting machine guns on Dustoffs does not exclude piling on Apache top cover.  But waiting for that top cover can prove lethal to the patients, Dustoff crews, and ground forces in contact.” [snip]

USAF Pedro helicopter used for CSAR and MEDEVAC missions

Photo courtesy of Michael Yon. Copyright 2011

The entire article and reader comments can be read here.

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