"Man Down!" – The Dilemma

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    • #95646
      Max
      Keymaster

        I recently put up this post, which should be read / watched prior to reading this. It should open in a new tab when you click on it:

        Vietnam: Contact Front, Point Man Down

        There are points in the post above that are relevant to this post. Below is a clip where a platoon is dealing with the dilemma in real time in Vietnam. There is a lot going on in this video:

        Note the confusion over exactly where the enemy is, and how far away. As I often say: second hardest thing to do: locate the enemy. First, extract a casualty under fire. Props to the platoon leader. He mentions that he actually fragged the bunker with the enemy machine gun in, and he goes forward with two other men to get the body out, against orders over the radio. Fuck all you platoon leader haters. Some of us were platoon leaders at one time, and we could read a map better than anyone else in the platoon, and were competent.

        Points I want to draw out:

        1) I posted a video on the history of the LRRPs in the thread for the post linked above. HelloKitty pointed out that you are sort of training to be the LRRPs (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) for your area, or SRRPs (Short Range Recon Patrol)if your PT is shite! Maybe, but without support helicopter capability for extraction. As I teach on Combat patrol, you have to have a casevac plan, or you will fail trying to hump that casualty out over long distances, in a small patrol of perhaps 4 or 6 guys total.

        2) Taking a casualty is a dilemma that will impact your break contact drill. You need to train and discuss this. In Vietnam, it was pre-era where the US Military would go in and get every casualty/DB (Dead Body). You hear it over the radio in the video: leave the DB. If you are operating without support and are getting hemmed up, you need to consider what you are going to do, and have it talked out. And I mean really going to do: don’t talk about leaving someone and then be unable to do it when it comes down to it. You will be operating with friends and family here in our world.

        3) Assuming you are a small patrol of 4 – 6 people, here are some points to draw out. You should be breaking contact. That should be default. If you want to change that on the day, due to circumstances and you have the training to shift to bounding / assaulting forward, then a leader can step in and change the drill. But default is to break contact. Even the platoon in the video is breaking contact.

        4) According to TC3 (Tactical Combat Casualty Care), during the care under fire phase, which is thus during the firefight / break contact, the casualty is responsible for self-aid, returning fire, and moving to cover. If they can. Everyone else is fighting the enemy. Tourniquet high and tight is the only intervention, either by a casualty or by a buddy, but we must be concentrating on gaining fire superiority so that we can try and prevent more casualties, and suppress to allow the break contact to happen. Shoot, move and communicate. This also comes down to your gear load, as written about often here, and having enough ammo between your Lite Belt, your MVT Chest Rig, and your Lite Daypack. Ammunition = Time under contact with the enemy.

        5) If the casualty is mobile he can move back and also try and stay in the fight. Note Joegenson (‘Hero’) in the clip on the linked post, he is helped back but covers a sector with his rifle. If the casualty is not mobile, all you can do during the initial break contact is drag him back in bounds. If you get a chance to rally / out of contact you can then start to make other arrangements, but with a 4 man team and 1 casualty, that may come down to 1 man doing the Hawes carry while the other two provide security and rotate with the casualty. Hence the need to be able to call in QRF (Quick Reaction Force) with a vehicle / ATV to evacuate the casualty, or you will go down fast.

        6) If you find you cannot move the live casualty further, after initially breaking contact and getting over a terrain feature, then your options come down to hasty ambush/ strongpoint in case the eenmy is pressing your by following up. Just depends on the situation. So you can sit tight, but that will only work if QRF is coming. This may turn into the Alamo if they are in superior numbers and following up. Got PT? Got QRF?

        7) If you get an obvious dead casualty (yes we are not doctors, but if he gets zapped through the head with brain matter, etc), then you have a dilemma. You may also have a casualty that expires on the extraction. If that if friends / family that will also psychologically slay you. I would suggest you do what needs to be done for those that are alive. For example, if you cannot get the downed point guy as you conduct the break contact, then you may have to leave him up there. You may be able to make a plan and come back and recover the body with a larger force / planned op?

        8) Using the embedded video of the platoon in contact as an example, I want to use it to bring out some points relevant to the linked post below, “Stomping on the near and far ambush drill.” Notice that in the video the machine gun is reported as being over the hedgerow, maybe 20 yards away. How far away is that? Not too far, right? Well within a near ambush drill and thus the point team/squad should have taken it on with a rapid assault on their feet, right? Hell no! That machine gun was an eternity away. The guys had the rest of their lives to assault that machine gun position, as found out by the young lad with red hair and freckles, who never came home, but at least had a burial due to the actions of his platoon leader / signaler / squad leader.

        My point is this: it is always a long way away, whatever the absolute yardage. The near/far ambush drill is junk. Always try and suppress then move an element to the flank to assault, or alternatively help suppress to break contact, whatever your preference that day.

        Re-Post: Stomping on the Near and Far Ambush Drill

        If you don’t follow all the talk of breaking contact drills in this post, then you need to read ‘Contact!’ and yo need to come for training.

      • #95647
        wheelsee
        Participant

          Re 7

          Work this out AHEAD of time- the psychological WILL work on you.

          My grandfather was in the process of dying at the age of 92. Hospice was present, death was imminent, and according to my family’s religious beliefs, he was going to a better place. Pedal pulses were lost, his legs had turned gray, but he was still breathing, though had oxygen flowing. I asked the hospice RN if we could turn off the oxygen, she said yes, and I KNEW (intellectually) what was next. Family was present, he took a few agonal breaths, and died. The end, right. No, Satan still works on me, whispering, “you killed your grandfather”. That was in 2007, and he still whispers…… You see, my grandfather, PawPaw, was my hero, my idol. He understood me, but never judged me. He was a WWII vet who was a quiet man who enjoyed his family.

          Figure it out now…..making the decision on the fly may cost more lives……..

        • #95648
          Joe (G.W.N.S.)
          Moderator

            If you are operating without support and are getting hemmed up, you need to consider what you are going to do, and have it talked out. And I mean really going to do: don’t talk about leaving someone and then be unable to do it when it comes down to it. You will be operating with friends and family here in our world.

            Harsh reality, but true.

            Consider what to do when someone can’t do it regardless of previous statements. Reality in the now can easily trump theoretical.

            As Wheelsee said, there will be doubts and second thoughts later.

            Life is hard at times.

          • #95649
            Andrew
            Participant

              You can carry this out further to include combat, or even ordinary, emergency care. Your corpsman needs to realize he/she isn’t going to be able to save everyone. No matter how hard they try. Another cold fact of life. But, it does stay with ya when you lose a patient.

            • #95650
              wheelsee
              Participant

                You can carry this out further to include combat, or even ordinary, emergency care. Your corpsman needs to realize he/she isn’t going to be able to save everyone. No matter how hard they try. Another cold fact of life. But, it does stay with ya when you lose a patient.

                I started at age 17 and made EMS runs on neighbors……I figured out pretty quick to focus on the successes versus deaths…….and still death creeps its head in on memories from 35 years ago…….you better have friends (BTDT friends, no one else will truly understand) to talk it out with or a bottle (pills or booze, your choice) will find its way in……IMHE

              • #95651
                Max
                Keymaster

                  Sweet monkey ball sacks! Bumping this. Why is this not at the top: you will take fucking casualties, so get on it and worry more about this and less about your camo pattern and weapon mods!

                  Anecdote / war story warning: In Fallujah, my buddy Bully was running from the compound we had secured, back to the Reva armored vehicle. It had not been parked optimally, and access was only through a back door up a step. We were fired upon from a minaret. Bully has a SAW, the weapon was hit and he dropped it, continuing to run down the side of the vehicle. As he stepped up onto the back, bending forward, he was hit 3 times under his body armor, in the back. We pulled him in and ran back to Camp Fallujah at warp speed. Back of the Reva was full of blood. We did not know that he aorta had been severed. He bled to death and was declared dead on arrival at the CASH.

                  You will take casualties. Be prepared for it.

                • #95652
                  Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                  Moderator

                    This is a good discussion, but can you prepare for it?

                    Sure you talk about options, prepare methods of extraction, etc…

                    How do you train someone to do what’s necessary, such as leave someone behind?

                    It’s hard enough to deal with when it’s just a friend, but your child, sister, or wife?

                    Other than trying to limit; to the degree possible, close relatives in a patrol.

                    What is the answer?

                    Discussing this ahead of time is useful, but the practical application I think will have to be experienced to be mentally hard; perhaps numb, enough to actually do what is needed.

                  • #95653
                    RRS
                    Participant

                      I just finished a book about the battles for the hills around Khe Sanh prior to the siege and it was basically Marines in column hump up hill get bushed then spend time pulling wounded and KIAs if they could down the hill to an evac site and hopefully not get mortared once the Helos were on site. They took so many casualties that the book mentioned the Marines put away the WWII book on high diddle diddle straight up the middle.

                      Years ago I would have lapped that book up like Marine Green Gospel, now about 1/4 of the way thru I was asking where are the tactics. Previous to that book I read Rommel’s “Infantry Attacks” and wanted to invent a time machine and take it back to the Marine officers for them to read.

                      Anyway, germane to us is to put Big Green’s operational book away, far away.

                    • #95654
                      hellokitty
                      Participant

                        Max is right on this. We should be thinking what we will do with a casualty now before it happens. At FoF classes, when you bump and rounds are flying no one is going to notice a casualty except the battle buddy. Everyone else is fighting. The battle buddy will communicate with the casualty and determine extent of injuries. But the battle buddy cant do a damn thing for casualty except win the fight and hopefully have a break in fire to drag him out. Also the battle buddy may be needed by rest of team to provide fire support or even assault. Which means battle buddy leaves the casualty. You dont have a platoon, just a team or 2 to solve problems with.

                        I can see that, if team breaks contact successfully, the casualty will get left behind unless battle buddy can find a way to drag him out. Which probably wont happen. If the team leader decides to assault via flank, he will need every shooter not hit. They will have to find the casualty after winning the battle.

                        All this before you even get to treat the casualty or figure out how to move him. Thats a whole another set of problems to solve.

                        HEAT 1(CTT) X 3
                        HEAT 2 (CP) X1
                        FOF X3
                        OPFOR X2
                        CLC X2
                        RIFLEMAN

                      • #95655
                        wildbill
                        Participant

                          In a true SHTF world without access to surgeons and state of the art medical facilities it may be a case of more than the dead being left behind. This as Max says needs to be a discussion where the decision becomes the SOP because in the end how many lives are you willing to sacrifice to get back a dead team member or “save” someone who has no expectation of surviving their wounds. Sorry but reality sometimes sucks big time.

                        • #95656
                          wheelsee
                          Participant

                            You want to prepare??

                            Volunteer for your local FD/EMS. You’ll be exposed to death and dying and they will be your neighbors, heck even family. Then hope for community-wide disaster drill. Never put a black tag on someone?? Someone still breathing?? Someone screaming in agony but black-tag (dead, dying, or quickly expectant to)??

                            It’s gonna be a MCI (mass casualty incident) or, in parlance, a disaster. Disaster being defined as anytime your casualties out-strip your resources.

                            Learn now while building tribe. BTW, EMS you’ll learn where the “odd folks” live and how they react to stress…… :wacko:

                          • #95657
                            Mike Q
                            Participant

                              Max,
                              Is there a way to supplement a casualty care situation in the next FoF class. Maybe make one of the runs about casualty care while under fire? Perhaps force a team to drag a wounded guy out of the situation and try to care for him? I know its only a 2 day class but perhaps that requirement could be an added wrinkle?

                            • #95658
                              Sam Brady
                              Participant

                                As a rifle platoon leader leading US troops I never had to maneuver away from KIA or WIA. It is a problem I often thought about. Troops are reluctant to leave a wounded buddy or a body…..fortunately I never had to make the choice. Once thing is for certain, casualties slow you down. A good leader is constantly evaluating the situation and deciding what to do. As I mentioned the war in Vietnam for me was a Lt and Sergeant’s war. I dont think I was ever in a position to be mutually supported by the company or another platoon. We were each give a box and a direction to generally maneuver in and then a place to link-up every 4 days or so. We always had air support and helo pilots and especially medivac crews routinely risked everything to get WIA’s out of harms way. As civilians we dont have that luxury.
                                With a Ranger platoon the stakes were higher and more complicated. Each of us told each other to leave our body if the risk was taking more casualties to bring it back. It is almost impossible to carry the extra dead weight when you only have 3 healthy bodies that may have to shoot and maneuver to stay alive. You can always come back and try to recover the body. The only WIA I had to deal with as a Ranger were able to walk and most able to shoot until shock took over. Small unit leaders without support have to learn to make hard choices very quickly or you will be overrun. Once a small team looses its freedom of maneuver, they can be wiped out by a force that is larger and more aggressive.

                              • #95659
                                Max
                                Keymaster

                                  SamB: your input is greatly appreciated here.

                                  And as FOF alums will tell you, once you go static, you will be rolled up.

                                • #95660
                                  First Sergeant
                                  Moderator

                                    With a Ranger platoon the stakes were higher and more complicated. Each of us told each other to leave our body if the risk was taking more casualties to bring it back. It is almost impossible to carry the extra dead weight when you only have 3 healthy bodies that may have to shoot and maneuver to stay alive. You can always come back and try to recover the body. The only WIA I had to deal with as a Ranger were able to walk and most able to shoot until shock took over. Small unit leaders without support have to learn to make hard choices very quickly or you will be overrun. Once a small team looses its freedom of maneuver, they can be wiped out by a force that is larger and more aggressive.

                                    Sam,

                                    We had the same discussions in the LRSC units I was in. We all knew going in that the risk of your body not being recovered was high because we didn’t want anyone else getting wacked.

                                    People need to have these discussions now and not when it happens. Everyone needs to completely understand that. Otherwise they are a liability.

                                    FILO
                                    Signal Out, Can You Identify
                                    Je ne regrette rien
                                    In Orbe Terrum Non Visi

                                  • #95661
                                    HiDesertRat
                                    Participant

                                      The wisdom in this thread is priceless. It is what makes MVT the best.

                                    • #95662
                                      Andrew
                                      Participant

                                        While it is a good thing to be prepared to deal with GSWs and other trauma, the odds are your biggest problems, medical wise, will be non-trauma related. These can reduce your team’s ability to function effectively just as surely as trauma can.

                                        I deal way more with medical problems than I do with any sort of trauma and I’m pretty sure that will only get worse if the hammer falls.

                                      • #95663
                                        Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                        Moderator

                                          …your biggest problems, medical wise, will be non-trauma related.

                                          Yes, but if this occurs on a patrol and prevents a persons mobility it could be possible to find a hidey hole for them until you get help. This could even apply to KIA/WIA under some circumstances.

                                        • #95664
                                          Andrew
                                          Participant

                                            Good call.

                                            True, I guess I was thinking more in terms of someone being too sick to go out on a patrol. Something in the realm of coughing and sneezing or some sort of intestinal problems.

                                          • #95665
                                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)
                                            Moderator

                                              …coughing and sneezing or some sort of intestinal problems.

                                              Off topic, but these conditions can occur on patrol too…

                                              Cough drops, allergy meds (if applicable), anti-diarrhea tablets, etc…need to be carried, doesn’t take up much space either.

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