Medics on Armed Patrol in Iraq

I ran across this photo and was surprised at the caption. I may be naive but I was genuinely surprised at a medic leading an armed patrol in Baghdad.

U.S. Army Spc. Kris
Hostetler, 21, from Nashville, Tenn., a medic with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion,
30th Infantry Regiment patrols in Arab Jabour during Operation Coliseum
south of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

60 thoughts on “Medics on Armed Patrol in Iraq”

  1. Eric,

    Medics are combat troops. They fight too. He’s most likely not leading the patrol, he’s probably in the middle of the squad formation in the picture shown. It may look like he’s in the lead, or “on point”, but that’s just the way the picture came out. Note there’s a distance between the medic and the guy behind, that’s because when they patrol in daylight, they usually hold a 30 meter distance between each man, so as to prevent a grenade from killing more than one at a time.

    1. Grenade, Machinegun fire, IED/Mine, Mortars. All these can cause mass casualties if troops patrol/advance/retreat close to each other.

    2. Thank you Eric… for explaining that! Its apparent that the person taking the photo had to be a civilian reporter. But like ive always said…. people take one photo or one piece of information and turn it in to the story of a lifetime. Never once thinking of how these things impact our soldiers and their moral! But why should they?.. All they want is to bad mouth our military for doing a job they dont have the guts to do!! I guess its true… it takes a real man to fill the shoes of a United States Soldier! HOOAHHH!!

    3. as a combat medic i’ve lead numerous patrols. i was considered armed and ready and if somebody went down then i’d fill my role as medic. what are you trying to say? medics aren’t as bad as an infantryman? trust me i’ve done my part and it wasn’t only saving lives chief

  2. Medic Benway, I presume–dropping copies of Naked Lunch on Nigerians perhaps? One stop shopping–we shoot them, then patch them up. It shows what good guys we are deep down.

    1. Interesting that you noticed. I’ve longered why it is that the general form of the Wehrmacht helmet has been adopted by the United States Army. Perhaps there was a perceived need to maintain a certain consistency with thrust of the regime’s foreign policy.

      1. John, the “Fritz”, as the Kevlar helmet is known, was adopted in the early 1980s; the first troops to wear it in combat were the 82nd Airborne Division in Grenada. As Osprey Men-at-Arms #159, “Grenada 1983”, says, “Any problem with its appearance was quickly forgotten on Grenada; the new helmet was credited with saving the lives of at least two paratroopers.”

        Still, I think the late David Hackworth was not exactly a fan of the “Fritz”; clearly, it’s bad PR to equip American troops with a helmet that brings back bad memories of Nazi Germany (and also to clothe them in camouflage uniforms reminiscent of the Waffen-SS), the universality of the black beret notwithstanding.

        1. Hello Paul,

          “…it’s bad PR to equip American troops with a helmet that brings back bad memories of Nazi Germany…”

          I can’t imaging the stupidity of having made such a choice. Two hundred forty-eight thousand Americans lost their lives fighting either people wearing helmets that looked just like this or their allies. And I’m certain that the people of Europe are not in any way entertained being reminded of the most bitter period they have ever endured. Just finished Tony Judt’s, Postwar, a history of Europe over the period 1945-1989. In it, one gets a decent taste of the horror that Hitler and National Socialism visited upon the world after 1939. The scale of the thing was utterly paralyzing and the recovery from it achieved with only the most exhausting of efforts. Although entirely out of harms way, I can remember much of that time, the images of refugees and people eating out of garbage cans, the CARE packages we sent from elementary school. There’s nothing about National Socialism worth emulating; absolutely nothing.

        2. Sadly, John, this country’s military has been more heavily influenced by Germany since WWII than by anyone else (other than perhaps Israel; I’m thinking of the chevron insignia on US tanks, so reminiscent of the similar chevrons on Israeli tanks). Strange that a country like America would be more enthused over the tactics, uniforms and weapons of its most important enemy pre-1945 than over those of its allies other than the Zionist State. Just shows how sick we are, I guess.

        3. Its called WAR… And honestly i dont really care what type helmet my husband wears as long as it keeps him safe! You people can bitch about some of the smallest details in order to just have something to bitch about!
          Good grief… I dont hear you complaining about being kept safe in your bed at night because our brave soldier over there fighting and dying… and im sure they could care less about the style of clothing or helmet they wear!

        4. She’s right, so what if the Nazi party wore a highly effective helmet?

          We’re not wearing the death’s head, the SS, or a swazitka… We’re wearing a highly effective helmet design. Who cares who wore it first?

      2. Are you now going from sayingthe Americans are eveil, to not saying that the Germans couldn’t engineer a descent war helmet? Slow down there digger, before you have the entire world on your ass.

        1. It is more than helmets. There seems to be a trend in the US Military to emulate the WW2 Wehrmacht in many ways. It started with Operation Desert Storm when General Schwarzkopf(German: Black Head) did a Rommel across the Saudi/Iraqi/Kuwaiti desert with his own Afrika Korps, you can bet he had read some of Rommel’s memoirs, the tactics and brutality of the campaign are similar to the way the Nazis conducted their North Africa and Eastern European campaigns.

          The M1A1 Abrams tank, one of the decisive weapons of both wars against Iraq is a German design, the main gun is a copy of a German 120mm gun. The whole concept of the tank is based on the German Pzkpfw VI “Tiger I”. The M1 series like the Tiger I both emphasize heavy anti-tank firepower and heavy thick armor over thinner more deflective armor and firepower suited to different roles. The Abrams and Tiger were both designed to lead an armored thrust against enemy defenses. They are both aggressors and predators. Their weight affects their mobility and fuel consumption though. Also they have a very large profile which is easy to spot in good conditions and with the right equipment. The Germans also mimicked the design in their Leopard 2.

          The current US Army camouflage pattern seems to be influenced by WW2 German Feld Grau. Green and Gray elements mixed together for different urban/wilderness environments. And the insignia worn on the side of the helmet is also similar to the practice of the Wehrmacht.

          The helmet design does not have to resemble the Stahlhelm of the Wehrmacht to be effective. Simple improvements to the basic “pot” design would provide extended. ear and neck protection.

          The trends within the US Military are disturbing and should not be promoted, not if we want Peace.

        2. First. The medic is not leading the patrol more than likely. But if he is, he is a competent member of a combat oriented team. I’m sure their are plenty of CLS qualified individuals that can stabalize him on that patrol. And a CASEVAC should more than likely be organized and rolling back to the FOB within minutes, should anything happen. Besides, war is not a perfect fight when everything is fine thing. If you don’t understand that, then shoot yourself.

          Secondly, Our equiptment is not based to look cool or emulate anything. It is designed with the safety of the individual that wears it. Do you understand why we wear a kevlar that looks like that? Because it affords more protection. Do you know why our Main Battle Tank is designed like that. Because it’s a f*ckin good design. Do you know why we wear a digitized grey? Because grey is mostly seen in an urban environment (not Iraq though), and the digitized to defeat most older NVG devices. And if your going to compare tactics, your an idiot. The tactic’s involved are good for modern war. Until some new technology comes along that will revolutionize warfare, this is how it will be done.

          Just wondering, but to any of you other people that have problems with this, have you actually been in the military? Or are you a self proclaimed “subject matter expert”? Go shoot yourselves.

          U.S. Army
          We don’t do driveby’s, we stop, hooah.

        3. My husband is a combat medic.. serving his country for going on 13 yrs! In time of war or fighting no one sees them as a medic or pilot etc. They are all Infantry! They all have the same goal and the same purpose in the missions they carry out! My husband has lead many missions being the only medic inside his team and recieved many awards for his actions! Its sites like this that cause the public to doubt our military and question the actions of our government. Its people on these sites who only tell the half truths! You see something on the news and you build it up to be so much more than it really is! Dont believe everything you hear or see in the news! If you dont have a direct contact as to exactlly what is going on then KEEP YOUR MOUTHS SHUT!! My husband had the balls and the courage to join a way of life in order to keep our nation strong and safe…. Its the people who are small minded cowards who hide behind thses web sites and spread this trash that make it so hard on our nation! If you think you have all the answers and you think you can put a stop to the terrorist then why arent you over there standing side by side with our troops? The day that you do that or spend a day in the life of the families that are left behind to deal with everyday life alone….thats the day that you have the right to talk to me about this war! And for the record…. WE ARE NOT AT WAR!!! We have brought the Iraq nation forward with the tools to start a working government! Its called OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM!! So go ahead and enjoy your way of life, your rights and your freedoms….But in the end the fact remains!….All of this is handed to you by every person who has ever served or still serving in our military! So instead of posting negative comments..Please take the time to thank a soldier!!
          They serve this nation and protect people that they will never meet in this life and they do it with honor!
          They give up so much in order for us to have what we have!! And i for one am so honored and take such great pride in standing behind my husband and his passion for this great nation!!
          So one last word……… HOOAHHHHH…. its and ARMY thang!!

    2. >And honestly i dont really care what type helmet my husband wears as long as it keeps him safe!

      Hey McCay, how is killing brown people half a world away who had nothing to do with 9/11 keeping me safe? All the US is doing in Iraq is creating more enemies for the American people. But you are clueless because you swallow whole the bullsh*t your government masters feed you.

      1. BROWN PEOPLE?? Is this how we refer to other humans now?
        And i hardly think she is guilty for swallowing everything the government passes out. Arent you also guilty of that? There is no blame to be thrown around here. Because we are all guilty at some point for believing everything they hear or see! Honestly i kinda like my life, and i pray everyday that events like 9/11 never happen again, but if it should i would hope that our military and government would react in the same manner!! Im glad that there are some people in this world willing to do what our military does because i know im not! So more power to them and yes…. i support them 110%

  3. Old news.
    corpsmen serving with the Marine Corps have to be armed all the time too. If you insisted on being unarmed or just carrying a pistol per the geneva conventions(?) they’d probably leave you at the outpost and get another doc.

  4. The Americans have been using combat troops as medics since Vietnam. It is quite legal since they do not have the Red Cross insignia on their uniforms.

    The helmets are not new – they were introduced in about 1983.

  5. So five more American service personnel were killed in "surge" Iraq today. Yup, the Bush nightmare continues to continue unabated. Why is America in Iraq? Can't be the 'wmd's' that Bush the insane said were there. Nope, that won't cut it. So America is in Iraq to get fine American service boys and girls killed. That's got to be the reason. That's just sick and wrong!

    1. Oh please let us not forget that the reason we are over there is to the freedom of this great nation free!! Remember all of those right that are givin to you by our constitution?
      In case you forgot .. remember that thing called 9/11? Would you rather the terroist come over here to our homeland and fight daily? I stand strong behind my husbands boss!

      1. Folks like the people at are also fighting for freedom, McKay—in fact, they’re doing a grander job of fighting for freedom that the GIs in Iraq are, because whether or not they realize it, those GIs are actually wasting their lives and health fighting enemies they shouldn’t be fighting. As Karl Liebknecht once said, “The enemy is at home” (meaning the government–in fact, the German government imprisoned him for saying those very words).

      2. Whose freedom? And What kind of freedom? The “Real ID” and GPS micro-chips tracking our lives kind of “freedom”? No thanks!

      3. I agree with McKay, no one appreciates our rights and our government. They just all sit back and think its all owed to them! Maybe all those people who have only negative comments should trade places with the people who are fighting to get in this country… let them trade places for awhile and learn the true meaning of how lucky they are to and American!

    2. We are not boys and girls, we are men and women who proudly serve in the army,navy air force and marines.So kindly have respect for those who died in the line of duty.And respect those who came home alive and well.

  6. As An exmedic I can tell you this is rot,These medics are misused a medic should be there as medical support and medical support only.A medic should protect the wounded he is treating, but not fight.A medic has enough to do Being aware o the action around him and concentrating on his real job.

      1. These are not Marines, these are US Army soldiers, the US Marine Corps uses different camouflage and helmet design.

  7. A combat medic is a trained soldier who is responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. Also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and non battle injury. Combat medics are normally co-located with the combat troops they serve in order to easily move with the troops and monitor ongoing health. From Wikipedia.

    I was not surprised to see this medic carrying a rifle. However, in our unit the Medics where not issued the M16A3 that the rest of us carried but the 9mm pistol. I was in an Infantry unit and some of our medics were real gungho types that wanted to be out patrolling and felt cheated that they didn’t get to kick in doors with the rest of us. I always felt that that was not their job and that they should be there for when someone was wounded or injured. However, I don’t see anything wrong with them being as fully armed as possible. They get shot at as often as the rest of us and at times an extra rifle can come in real handy.

  8. He’s not leading the patrol he’s part of it. My first MOS was 91B,Combat Medic. We were always armed.

    1. A medic I know in the Vietnam War has told me how dangerous a job that was, what high casualties they took, and indeed was almost killed himself because of wounds he received while administering aid.

  9. Would everyone please stop trying to argue with “McKay”?

    She is obviously a true believer, one who will blindly repeat the pre-packed propaganda of the nation-state until she is smacked in the face by reality (and maybe not stop even then).

    The US Army is not fighting for “freedom” in Iraq, if you mean the “inalienable” kind discussed in our Declaration of Independence. The US Army is fighting for the “freedom” to subjugate planet Earth. McKay has to suspend her willingness to think critically and independently about this, because the terrible truth that her husband is risking his ass to make W the Emperor of planet Earth would be just too much to bear.

    McKay, if you read this, I challenge you to read the memoirs of Marine General Smedley Butler. Look it up on the internet. I am sure you can find something.

    1. I thought it was kind of fun to argue with a “true believer” in the hopes that she would get profane or obscene, Steve.

      Besides, I’ve always liked what Virgil said—even more since I joined the Mises Institute last December: Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.

    2. You are so right when you say that my husband is risking his ass over there! Thank god he is… and thank god that so many
      are standing side by side with him! For one to be willing to risk his life for the lives of so many is beyond words and is deserving of full honor and respect!! If his presence in Iraq keeps the terrorist at bay then by all means let them do what they are trained to do! Everyone wanted revenge for
      what happened on 9/11..everyone wanted justice! So the way i see it…. be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it all and even more! Our nation wasnt built in one day.. nor will it sustain its life in the snap of a finger! There are leaders and there are followers in this world and i am so honored and proud that my husband is a part of the leaders! And there is no one who will ever change my view on that.

  10. It’s really sad to think that this is in any comparison to Viet Nam. If people would remember who fought in Viet Nam, things would clear up around our federal buildings. The Viet Nam war was a draft war. It was messed up because there was no pearl harbor, and there wasn’t a declaration of war. How the Viet Nam war gained popularity was that it drafted ANYBODY it wanted to. This draft reached into the colleges of America, back when college students were either rich, because there was no FAFSA and the only way you got in was your mommy and dadddy or a scholarship. That means that there were parents out there who had disposable income, which went into anti war rallies because they weren’t spending it on the education, because their kid was either staying in the condo in a vancouver, canada, or they were protesting in the streets burning draft cards. I remember my 9th grade english teacher would tell us stories of when he was at Iowa State University, and every time there was a lottery drawing, he would hear screams coming down the halls. He will never forget those screams. See that war was taking ANYBODY it wanted, it didn’t care that your dad was VP of Engineering at John Deere, or Standard Oil, you were going 13,000 miles away to fight in the jungle, that is unless you protested, or took off to Canada.
    Iraq is there because these soldiers joined voluntarily, and they want to fight for freedom, they are not being pulled out of Harvard to fight in Iraq. You don’t wanna fight in Iraq, then don’t sign up. The people that are there want to be tere, so lets stand behind that fact. Don’t let your personal feelings get involved in another Americans choice. If you do then that is also a form of terrorism, and stand back from the front door, cause the marines are coming through!

    You phuqn burnt out hippies, go home, this isn’t your problem, it’s the youth of today’s choice.

    IS2(AW) OIF Veteran, who joined AFTER Sept 11th, when I was 33 years old.

    1. The usual revision of recent history.

      First, in actual fact the easiest way to get out of going to Vietnam in those days and for a college student was to join the National Guard.

      Second, there were easy exemptions for folk like Cheney, who actually got married and reproduced to avoid being drafted, and in one interview some years ago was very open about it.

      Third, many of those you call “Hippies” were burning their draft cards in public and notifying their draft boards of it.

      There was no quicker way to get a draft notice, so if they simply wanted to avoid or evade the draft they would have been quiet.

      Fourth, being identified specifically as a protester was another easy way to get a draft notice.

      Fifth, the lottery was quite late so far as the war was concerned.

      Sixth, many of the people actually drafted and sent to Vietnam were against the war.

      Seventh, going to Canada was a much braver and serious matter than simply taking your chances of being drafted.

      Only one of eight drafted ever saw combat.

      Eighth, you are playing on the ambiguity of “volunteer”. Many serving in Iraq volunteered to join the military but are not voluntarily in Iraq.

      Some of them have had their enlistments involuntarily extended and are now de facto conscripts.

      Ninth, although no poll has been taken, there are increasing signs that many of the troops now serving in Iraq do not want to be there, and consider it a lost and vicious cause. This seems to be especially true of National Guard units.

      Tenth, the Army had recently to raise the reenlistment bonusand salary for Captains because so few are reenlisting.

      Eleventh, there are now more private military contractors in Iraq than regular military. This is no doubt an effort by the Bush and Cheney administration to avoid instituting a draft and to construct the pretense that there are many eager volunteers.

      That is just scratching the surface.

      1. “Contractors” are just Mercenaries anyway, they are “above the law” and a threat to law and order.

  11. Indeed.

    I also don't understand why a good medic would want to be distracted, by having to decide when and where to wield a rifle, nor why any trooper would not want the full attention of a medic.

  12. In WW2 it was considered despicable and more or less a “war crime” to shoot Medics or Troops clearly identified with a “red cross” on their uniform or gear. The vast majority were mostly unarmed and carried at most a knife or bayonet. The fact that they were unarmed made it “illegal” to shoot them. But with the US Military trend here these rules can be waived and it can’t complain if the Medics get shot, because I don’t see a “red cross” or any other feature identifying them as a Medic, therefore this makes them legal targets in War.

  13. Just wondering, but my unit and other units have found chlorine bomb caches used by the Iraqi Airforce. Are chemical weapons defined as WMD’s? Just wondering if the liberal media let you in on that fact. Oh, a few units have also found Antherax tipped artillery rounds. Just curious if that disturbs you also? If you haven’t been to Iraq then STFU.

    1. Hey how about that CS gas Blackwater dropped on US troops?

      Isn’t that defined as a banned chemical weapon?

      You realize anthrax exists naturally in the soil, don’t you?

      The propaganda gets deeper every day, and you are just another victim of it.

  14. They dont wear a Red Cross because that makes them a f*ckin target. It doesn’t provide concealment, and it is a cross hair that says, “I’m a valuable target, If you shoot me I weaken the U.S. Army greatly” Ever thought of that. And if he doesn’t carry a weapon, he is vulnerable because he can’t shoot back. Do you ever actually think about what you write Bill K.

  15. He’s not on point. I was in front of him. There where people in front of me. Believe it or not, it’s dangerous there. If our medics didn’t carry weapons they would stick out to snipers and become targets.

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  18. This is a picture of my husband. A civilian reporter from ap took this picture of him. He’s not leading a patrol, and he’s def. not wearing a nazi helmet. Do your research. The patch on his kevlar represents his unit, 3rd ID. Its makes me sick that as great as this shot is of him, its on an anti-war website. This man is a soldier doing his job in a foreign country. He is not a hero, simply just a medic, waking up each day trying to get home to his family that much sooner. So support this medic, soldier, husband of mine, and man. Dont bash him because you have nothing better to do with your day. And thank you to those who have chosen to support your troops.

  19. This comment is for all. I stumbled onto this website by accident, and decided to read some of the comments. I myself am a Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm vet, now retired. I find it curious that the contributors to this site seem to really miss the point of freedom. I felt and still feel, that just because I disagree or even despise what you say, I will lay down my life to ensure that you have the right to say it.
    Now, I’m sure some of the folks out there are going to flame me for being wrong-headed or worse and others will support my comments. Either way I’m proud to live in a country where, we ain’t always right, but believe in everyones right to try. I hope those of you who seem to love antagonizing the more vocal of the contributors will tone down the rhetoric and just focus on an honest discussion of the issues. I am proud to see people enjoying their right of free speech. Thank you for reading my small comment.

  20. i am a retired navy Seal and i worked with many army medics and navy corpsman. Those brave kids would run out into a firefight, patch up a guy whose guts are spilling out of him, then put him on their back and carry him to safety. if yall hippies want to waste your time yelling at the bravest men our country has to offer, i dont even want to think where our country is headed. i am proud to have served my country, and proud to serve along guys like Kris. Thank you

    1. i also want to say that if the camera man is in front of the person on point, the guy is not point, the camera man is.

  21. “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men then himself” – John Stuart Mill

  22. This is to those who are bashing McKay, the medic and the combat helmet.McKay is expressing her viewpoint which is her right without being mocked.the medic is out there to care for his soldiers and safeguard his life as well.Lastly the helmet is not the one used by Nazi troops.The fritz helmet was also worn by Chinese nationalist troops and some South American armies before world war two.It must be nice for you anti-war types to mock a combat medic doing his job from the comfort of your homes.It must feel real good to make your bigoted comments against soldiers and their supporters.Until you served in combat don't judge what you don't understand.

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