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3 soldiers dead, 6 missing in flood near Ft. Hood, Texas
hree soldiers died after their tactical vehicle overturned at a flooded crossing near Fort Hood, Texas, US Army officials have confirmed.
Three soldiers were rescued and are in stable condition, according to KXXV News. They are being transported from Coryell Memorial Healthcare System in Gatesville, Texas to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center on the base.

“The search is ongoing for six soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division,” Fort Hood officials said in a statement. 

"Three confirmed deceased soldiers were recovered from the water downstream from the vehicle,” the statement added.

The unit's Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV) truck apparently overturned at the Owl Creek Tactical low-water crossing and East Range Road near Lake Belton on Thursday.
 
From Combat To Conquest
Serving in combat is no easy feat, but neither is scaling a 30,000-foot mountain.
 
Every year, around 800 people try to climb Mount Everest. And nearly 25,000 attempt Mount Kilimanjaro, while thousands of others seek glory atop mounts McKinley, Lobuche, Aconcagua, and Denali in epic feats of man versus mountain.

Recently, however, those numbers have begun to include U.S. military veteran climbers, who summit these incredible peaks to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, or to prove that even combat injuries like loss of limb can’t keep them down.
 
Here are eight inspiring veterans who have successfully climbed epic summits.
 
West Point grads on cross-country bus trip
Myrtle the Turtle, at a crawling pace, made its way down the long gravel driveway in Union last week headed for the fast-moving interstate and a wedding in sunny California.

Myrtle, whose fastest speed is 60 miles per hour going downhill, was passed often. She was not sluggish in spirit.

A 1990 GMC B-6000 and former school bus, Myrtle was filled with five new graduates from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Jeremy Matsumoto, 22, of Union, was among the optimistic crew.

“I’m not worried,” said Matsumoto’s mom, Doreen Beatrice. “They are a resourceful group.”

Matsumoto is a former Ryle High School student who attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia after his sophomore year. That led to four years at West Point where he graduated May 21 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

“Myrtle is really the culmination of a year of hard work. It’s really a culmination of our senior year,” Matsumoto said.

On a summer break in Union last year, Matsumoto discovered Myrtle on Craigslist. The Union native knew the bus would need a little work, so he asked five of his classmates if they’d like to fix up Myrtle and travel the country.

“He didn’t have to do a whole lot of convincing,” said Dan Polanowicz, of Northborough, Massachusetts.

With four mechanical engineering graduates, one electrical engineering graduate and Polanowicz, a political science graduate, on board, there were plenty of ideas how to transform the old bus. Each chipped in $233 and manpower.
 
Selection of new Army and Air Force sidearm
The Department of Defense will soon chose three finalists in a competition to be the U.S. Army and Air Force's new sidearm. One of the three finalists could go on to outfit all of the services, with total sales of of 500,000 handguns—but not before the Pentagon bureaucracy makes it as long and complicated as possible.

The Modular Handgun System (MHS) is a $17 million dollar effort to replace the aging Beretta M92 handgun. First adopted in the 1980s, the U.S. Army's Berettas are beginning to wear out. The M92 is also a product of another time, and hasn't kept up with recent advances in pistol technology.

The first requirement is that the new handgun surpass the M92 in accuracy, reliability, ergonomics, durability, and maintainability. In a 2006 report on U.S. infantry weapon reliability, the M92 scored at the bottom compared to the M4 carbine, M16 rifle, and M249 squad automatic weapon. In every category, from handling to accuracy to maintainability, the M92 came in dead last—or tied for last. Twenty-six percent of soldiers polled reported their weapon jammed while shooting at the enemy. Forty-six percent reported they didn't have confidence in their pistol's reliability.
 
The MHS will also incorporate new advances in infantry small arms. The pistol will have a modular grip system, a recent development that involves interchangeable, different-sized grip panels to accommodate larger or smaller hands. This has become an important feature as the percentage of women in the military—who tend to have smaller hands—has jumped 50 percent since the 1980s when M92 was adopted. 

The handgun will have an integral MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny Rail underneath the barrel, allowing the attachment of gadgets such as flashlights and lasers. It will also have a threaded barrel to accommodate a suppressor and should have low recoil. 

Currently there are twelve bidders for the contract, including the Beretta APX, Ceská Zbrojovka's CZ P-09, FN Herstal's Five-Seven Mk 2, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GDOTS) and Smith & Wesson's M&P polymer handgun; the Glock 17 and 22; and Sig Sauer's P320. An updated version of the M9, the Beretta M9A3, was rejected by the Army and won't be involved in the competition. 
 
Mustard gas test subjects denied veteran benefits
The military has acknowledged for decades it performed secret mustard gas tests on troops at the end of World War II but a Senate investigation released Tuesday found 90 percent of related benefit claims have been rejected by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she discovered shortfalls in the benefits process that took her breath away during a yearlong investigation into treatment of the test victims. The release of her findings is accompanied by a new bill – named after an 89-year-old former soldier from Missouri – that fast-tracks VA benefits for possibly hundreds of survivors.

About 60,000 servicemembers were exposed to mustard gas and another chemical agent called Lewisite as part of a clandestine defense research program in the 1940s. Of those servicemembers, about 4,000 had their entire bodies exposed to the chemical weapons. Mustard gas and Lewisite burn the skin and lungs, are linked to a variety of serious health problems and have been banned by the international community.

McCaskill said she believes about 400 of the veterans could still be alive and eligible for benefits.
 
USMA Historian wins Award for Valor
United States Military Academy Historian Sherman Fleek was presented The Secretary of the Army Award for Valor for exhibiting great courage or sacrifice involving heroism or bravery.  Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning presented the award to Fleek at the Pentagon on May 25.

Fleek was honored for thwarting an armed robbery at an I-Hop restaurant while on leave in California. As he waited for a table with a friend, he heard screams and saw women running from their chairs. He saw a man with a gun pointed at the cashier as the man shouted for her to put the money in a bag.
 
Budget Uncertainty Threatens Readiness
Budget uncertainty threatens readiness and training, underscoring the need for reliable funding for defense operations, the Pentagon's press secretary told reporters here today.
 
There have been warnings for some time indicating that readiness and training would suffer amid sequestration spending cuts and in the budget uncertainty of the last few years, Peter Cook said.

"Ultimately, there's a price to be paid for budget gridlock, particularly with the Department of Defense," he added.

The Defense Department's $582.7 billion budget request for fiscal year 2017 takes the needs of the services into account, Cook said, and it includes significant and aggressive investment in dealing with readiness issues. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been vocal about the need for continued budget certainty and investments in modernization, force structure and readiness, Cook pointed out.
 
Improvements Won't Happen Overnight
The budget plan seeks to address readiness and training concerns in the "most effective and efficient way possible," Cook said. Moving forward will take time, using the resources the department has available, he added.

"We'd all like more money to try to address this right away overnight, but that's not the reality of the budget situation we're in," he told reporters.
 
Army Medicine works to increase unit readiness
s the active-duty Army cuts 40,000 troops from its ranks over the next couple of years, Army Medicine is working to increase the number of Soldiers that are medically available to deploy. 

The active-duty Army currently has 490,000 Soldiers, but military records show that 16 percent of that force is nondeployable -- that means only 347,900 Soldiers are ready to accomplish their war-time mission.

"As we decrease our total troop strength to 450,000 we also have to be able to cut that non-deployable percentage," said Lt. Col. Dave Hamilton, deputy commander for health and readiness at Fort Carson's Medical Department Activity. "Just by cutting it in half to 8 percent we can actually increase the number of available Soldiers (355,500) to our force, to our commanders."

To help decrease the number of nondeployables, Army Medicine's Medical Readiness Transformation is launching the Commander Portal June 1. This new system will allow company command teams to view their units' overall readiness on one system.

"The Commander Portal is going to give commanders and first sergeants a quick overview of their company's medical status," said Hamilton. "We are trying to give them the tools they need to easily manage their units' medical readiness. This will give them a level of predictability for medical readiness that they will be able to work into their training schedule."

The portal not only gives a snapshot of a unit's current readiness, but also what their medical readiness will be in 7, 30, 60 and 90 days. Hamilton said that commanders will be able to use the site's "action items" to get a by name list of Soldiers who are delinquent or will soon be delinquent in certain areas. It will show what Soldiers are in need of items such as their Periodic Health Assessment, immunizations or annual dental exam. The company command team will also be able to see at a glance which of their Soldiers have medical profiles.
 
'Ghost Brigade' Soldiers prepare for future conflicts
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Since 1981, military personnel have come and gone through the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, to prepare for missions around the world. 

These month-long rotations are usually geared to prepare a unit for an upcoming mission. For the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, their May 2016 rotation to NTC was a way to hone in on those key fighting skills as a brigade.

"We jumped on the opportunity to try to build upon what we learned at the last NTC rotation and what we learned during the missions we executed in the Pacific," said Maj. Keith Benedict, the operations officer for 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. "We are trying to combine lessons learned both from the National Training Center and Pacific Pathways and bring them together during this rotation to experiment further and make our selves better as a unit." 

In January 2016, the "Ghost Brigade" participated in Pacific Pathways, an operation in which units from the brigade were sent to multiple countries in the Pacific, Benedict said. There, the Soldiers worked and trained with their counterparts to build upon each nation's capabilities and to work through interoperability challenges. Pacific Pathways also helped leaders become accustomed to working in different environments around the world.

"While in Thailand, Korea and the Philippines, our Soldiers trained and interacted at the individual, company, and staff level in order to learn how to deploy into that theater with which our brigade is aligned," Benedict said. "This helped build the capabilities and partnerships with those countries and will yield dividends in the event of a humanitarian crisis or any other time our Soldiers may be called upon.

"We have got to make everything a learning environment," he said. "We serve no purpose if we don't understand our operating environment. We must seek every opportunity to challenge our ability to operate in a humanitarian aid, decisive action or combined arms maneuver capacity -- while fighting an adversary, if need be." 
 
West Point Supe, USARCENT leaders talk leader development
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, along with members of the school’s athletic department, paid a visit to U.S. Army Central during the Memorial Day weekend. 
 
Caslen said the visit allows him to engage with graduates, specifically recent graduates, to see first-hand what the West Point program is doing to prepare them for their future as Army leaders. The visit also provides feedback from senior leaders about the type of officers graduating from the academy and how they are performing in the early stages of their careers. 
 
West Point graduates spoke candidly with Caslen and asked his advice at a number of engagements, ranging from physical training to meals. The superintendent shared thoughts on topics ranging from leader development to training. 
 
“First, be a leader of character, because if you are very competent but you fail in character, then you fail in leadership,” said Caslen. “So character is the most important aspect of leadership. Get to know your Soldiers, love them, train them, hold them to high standards. They will want to follow you because of your proven ability to lead.” 
Caslen said leaders need to develop a relationship with the leaders above them because the ability to understand your boss and your higher headquarters is very important. 
 
“Be a developer of future leaders,” said Caslen. “Spend time with your junior noncommissioned officers and prepare them to become senior noncommissioned officers. Take time with your lieutenants and help them to be future company commanders. You do that by giving them training opportunities and allowing them to attend professional military education and civilian education.” 
 
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