Exclusive: Gen. Patrick Brady explains why president abandoned Americans in Benghazi
By Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady , U.S. Army (ret.)
Now I understand! For years, many veterans and active military have been alarmed about the idiocy of the changes in battlefield aeromedical evacuation known as ‘Dustoff’. For reasons having nothing to do with patient care, Dustoff has been removed from the control of the professionals, the medics, and put under the control of amateurs, aviation staff officers, or ASOs. This is the first such change since the Civil War.
I document the unparalleled excellence of Dustoff, and the effects of the changes, in my book, “Dead Men Flying.”; Needless to say, it was the most outstanding battlefield operating system of that war – some one million souls saved and unprecedented survival rates. No warrior of Vietnam is more revered than the Dustoff crews.
In the words of Gen. Creighton Abrams, former U.S. Army chief of staff and former supreme commander in Vietnam: “A special word about the Dustoffs … Courage above and beyond the call of duty was sort of routine to them. It was a daily thing, part of the way they lived. That’s the great part, and it meant so much to every last man who served there. Whether he ever got hurt or not, he knew Dustoff was there. It was a great thing for our people.”;
Fast forward to current battlefields. We hear horror stories about patients waiting and dying because Dustoff 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 . Dustoff 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 own 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 Dustoff 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 Dustoff 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.
Obama’s aversion to risk contributed to the massacre of Americans by terrorists in Benghazi . We hear that the president did not even convene the Counterterrorism SecurityGroup 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 supported Mitt Romney – only five that I know of supported Obama. Some 150 former prisoners of war also supported Romney; I know of none who supported 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.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, retired from the U.S. Army, is a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.
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