On a bat­tle­field, the sight of a Red Cross logo on a he­li­copter is sal­va­tion for wounded troops and civil­ians. But one he­li­copter with Red Cross mark­ings was part of a low-fly­ing show of force over Wash­ing­ton’s streets Mon­day night.

Calgary Herald - - NP -


THE LOGO OF MERCY Videos on social me­dia showed an un­armed Lakota mede­vac he­li­copter hov­er­ing over demon­stra­tors. It had Red Cross mark­ings and be­longed to the D.C. Army Na­tional Guard. Mil­i­tary jus­tice ex­perts said the use of a he­li­copter with Red Cross mark­ings was an abuse of global norms that could help erode its neu­tral sym­bol­ism. “Mis­use of the Red Cross sym­bol is pro­hib­ited even dur­ing peace­time by the First Geneva Con­ven­tion, to which the U.S. is a party,” s aid Rachel Vanland­ing­ham, a for­mer Air Force at­tor­ney and pro­fes­sor

at the South­west­ern Law School in Los An­ge­les. Link­ing the sym­bol with law en­force­ment, she said, can weaken its “ef­fec­tive­ness as sig­ni­fy­ing med­i­cal and hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance.”



The use of a he­li­copter’s down­ward force, known as ro­tor wash, is a com­mon mil­i­tary tac­tic to in­cite fear, dis­perse

crowds and warn of other ca­pa­bil­i­ties, such as rock­ets and guns. Kyleanne Hunter, a for­mer Marine Corps pi­lot who flew Cobra at­tack he­li­copters in Iraq and Afghanista­n, said the Red Cross chop­per flew too low to be on sur­veil­lance.



The de­ci­sion to use the ma­noeu­vres was re­port­edly au­tho­rized by the high­est lev­els of the D.C. Army Na­tional

Guard. It might have been pru­dent to con­sider cov­er­ing up the logo be­fore flight, Vanland­ing­ham said. The use of the he­li­copter also may vi­o­late

Army reg­u­la­tions, Corn said, in­clud­ing do­mes­tic op­er­a­tions that out­line the use of med­i­cal



CON­FINED EXIT OPS He­li­copters are less aero­dy­namic than planes, so in the event of a mal­func­tion, pi­lots may need to crash land. But pro­test­ers on the ground, build­ings on all sides and a low al­ti­tude would make such a ma­noeu­vre “vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble,” said Hunter, now a se­nior ad­junct fel­low at the Cen­ter for a New Amer­i­can Se­cu­rity in


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