The Army wants to build a brand new exoskeleton to help soldiers ruck faster and harder

The Army is formally moving ahead with the development and fielding of a powered exoskeleton to help soldiers move faster and carry more while reducing overall fatigue after years of experimentation and testing.

Officials with Army Futures Command are currently in the process of drafting formal requirements for an infantry exoskeleton ahead of a defense industry day sometime in November, said Ted Maciuba, deputy director of the robotic requirements division for Army Futures Command.

Breaking Defense first reported news of the fresh exoskeleton effort.

“For me, it started 50 years ago when I first read Starship Troopers and said, ‘hey wait, we need a powered suit,’” Maciuba told Task & Purpose in a phone interview. “Then, three years ago, [then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark] Milley called out exoskeletons as a modernization priority for soldier lethality, and he was really focused on reducing soldier load.”

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Limiting Arlington burials affects veterans and their families

The Army would like to keep Arlington functioning for the next 150 years, but prospects for adding new property is slim, as the cemetery is hemmed in by highways and other developments.

Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries stated, “Arlington National Cemetery will not be a burial option for those service members who served in the Gulf War and any conflict afterwards.”

The new regulations currently under consideration place drastic restrictions on eligibility. It will only include service people who were killed in action, recipients of awards such as Purple Hearts, Silver Stars or higher, presidents, vice presidents, people killed in combat-related deaths while operating on a unique military activity or veterans who served in combat that went on to serve in the highest levels of government in a significant role that made contributions to the nation’s security.

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Bill Would Clear the Way for Army Legend Alwyn Cashe to Receive Medal of Honor

On Oct. 17, 2005, Cashe, a 35-year-old Army sergeant first class deployed to Iraq, was in a Humvee that ran over an improvised explosive device and burst into flames. The explosion left Cashe drenched in fuel and burning. But he paid little attention to his own pain and risk. He entered the burning vehicle again and again to drag out his teammates still inside, ultimately pulling all six soldiers out of the Humvee.

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Graphic novel series highlights first and only woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor

The seventh installment in an illustrated series dedicated to soldiers whose actions earned them the nation’s highest award for military valor is now available online.

The newest issue of “Medal of Honor,” a graphic series produced by the Association of the U.S. Army, spotlights the Civil War heroics of Mary Walker, the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree and the only woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor.

Born in Oswego, New York, to abolitionist parents, Walker attended Syracuse Medical College prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, when she saw an opportunity to serve as a surgeon in the U.S. Army.

But the arrangement wasn’t a seamless one. In 1861, Walker attempted to join the ranks of U.S. Army surgeons but was denied for being a woman. Like many obstacles she encountered prior to 1861, Walker refused to allow the hiccup to derail her.

Years as an unpaid surgeon’s assistant finally paid off when, at the height of the war, Walker was issued a contract as a credentialed War Department surgeon at the recommendation of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas.

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Army IDs soldier who died at Fort Jackson, in fourth death at the base in past year

A basic combat training soldier at Fort Jackson was found dead in his barracks Saturday morning, U.S. Army officials said.

On Sunday, the soldier was publicly identified as Pvt. Michael Wise, according to Army officials. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment.

Following the death of the 29-year-old from Wisconsin, officials said they will have a 48-hour training stand down.

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Army leaders share stories of the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon

WASHINGTON — It’s been 19 years since Sept. 11, 2001, when four hijacked passenger jets were turned into makeshift missiles above American soil. But the tragic day is still fresh in the minds of some of the Army’s top leaders who survived the attack at the Pentagon.

Positioned across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, the Pentagon is the nerve center for all things national defense. It’s also one of the world’s largest office buildings, made up of roughly 23,000 military and civilian employees, including the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The five-sided structure is often seen as a universal symbol of America’s strength and security, which made it a target that September morning.

As the sun rose over the nation’s capital that day, the gridlocked morning traffic crept along the Beltway. Underground, train riders like Brig. Gen. Mark S. Bennett and Maj. Gen. Paul A. Chamberlain, who were younger officers at the time, crowded into railcars to beat the slow-moving jam.

All and all “it was just a morning like any other,” Bennett recalled.

They were young officers navigating the city in 2001, but today Bennett is at the helm of the U.S. Army Financial Command, and Chamberlain is the director of the Army budget.

By the time the Metro train dropped them off, the Soldiers weren’t the first to arrive at the Pentagon. Employees were already buzzing through each ring and corridor of the building.

Pentagon staffers were already immersed in numerous morning routines; briefings were planned, PowerPoints were being finalized, coffee was brewing, and some, like Chamberlain, found time to squeeze in a morning run.

“The sky was crystal clear blue that early fall morning,” Chamberlain said, looking back. “I went for a run, came back, and took a shower.” That’s when he first heard the news at the Pentagon Athletic Center. “Over the radio speakers in the shower, I heard a plane [may have] hit the World Trade Center in New York — which was very odd.”

The news quickly spread around the building. Lt. Gen. Thomas Horlander, deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army, Financial Management and Comptroller, was then a 41-year-old lieutenant colonel on a mission from Fort Rucker, Alabama that morning.

The Pentagon has three times the floor space of the Empire State Building, and can be daunting to navigate for newcomers, like Horlander. The Colorado native was in an unfamiliar place during his work trip to the Defense Department epicenter.

When Horlander and his coworkers walked into the building, the security guards knew they were out-of-towners, he said, during a recent interview. “I said [to the guard] we’re trying to locate a conference room. He gave us assistance and said when you get there to turn on the television — an airplane just hit one of the Twin Towers.”

After that, everything changed. Newscasts started reporting the incident at the World Trade Center in New York City. The news anchor on the confirmed “smoke was billowing out of one of the towers,” Chamberlain said. “I thought, wow, it must have been a significant plane that hit it.”

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Inside the National Guard’s Daring Rescue of Hundreds from a California Wildfire

More than 200 campers were trapped near a boat dock on Shaver Lake in California’s Fresno County over the Labor Day weekend, encircled by flames and a blinding wall of wildfire smoke.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Rosamond, piloting a California Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook, had already made the decision to try to put his helicopter down close by the desperate campers on Sept. 5.

So had CWO 5 Kipp Goding, pilot of a California Guard UH-60 Black Hawk, who had linked up with Rosamond’s aircraft and was trailing him to the scene, weaving through peaks rising to 7,000 feet and then dropping down to a valley leading to the dock.

“We were quickly running out of time,” Rosamond said.

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Order Gives Employees Social Security Withholding Tax Deferral, Not Forgiveness

President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order on August 8 that allows employers to defer withholding Social Security taxes.

However, it’s a payroll “deferral,” not payroll “forgiveness” — meaning it’s a temporary change, and service members and Defense Department civilians have to pay that money in 2021.

Internal Revenue Service officials said the Presidential Memorandum defers the employee portion of Social Security taxes. The Social Security tax is set for employees by law at 6.2 percent.

For service members, that would be 6.2 percent of basic pay. An E-5 with eight years of service has a monthly basic pay rate of $3,306.30. The monthly Social Security tax equals $204.99. Through the end of the year, this adds up to $819.96.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the deferred Social Security taxes will be collected through April 30, 2021. So, that E-5 with eight years of service who received a total of $819.96 from the tax deferral now has to pay it back early in 2021.

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DOD Officials Describe Modernization Priorities That Will Benefit Warfighters

Defense Department officials spoke about the DOD’s modernization strategy, including the development and procurement of high priority systems — such as artificial intelligence, directed energy, small satellites, hypersonics, a 5G network and unmanned aerial systems — which could potentially offer game-changing results on the battlefield.

Dr. Mark J. Lewis, the acting deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, and Michael Brown, the director of the Defense Innovation Unit, spoke today at the Defense News Conference.

Lewis noted that Congress has been very supportive with the direction of the DOD’s research and engineering work.

One of the important reasons for this support on the Hill, Lewis said, is that the DOD has demonstrated that it has adopted an approach to “accepting risk intelligently.” That means supporting research and engineering efforts that either result in success or in some measure of success, such that even if an experiment fails, some learning about the physics and process results in enlightenment for the successful creation of a future capability.

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A Conversation With West Point’s Associate Dean for Strategy and Initiatives

By Joshua Kim

Chris Mayer is an Associate Dean for Strategy and Initiatives, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and a colonel in the US Army. I first ran across Chris on his active Twitter feed @ChrisMayer_WP. Chris generously offered to answer my questions about academic life within the military, his thoughts on COVID-19 and the academy, and the future of higher education. Please note that the views expressed in this article are Chris Mayer’s and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.

Q1: I’d like to start by trying to understand the world of the US service academies. These include West Point (where you are) and the four other academies for the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marine. Can you provide insights into where the service academies fit into the broader postsecondary ecosystem, and maybe some points of distinction and differentiation?

Service academies have the mission of developing and graduating leaders of character to serve as officers in their respective services. The United States Military Academy’s (West Point) graduates are commissioned as Army officers, United States Naval Academy graduates as Naval officers, United States Air Force Academy graduates as Air Force officers, United States Coast Guard graduates as Coast Guard officers, and United States Merchant Marine Academy graduates become licensed Merchant Marine officers or commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. Students at service academies do not pay tuition or room or board, but they do have a service obligation once they graduate (West Point graduates have a five-year active duty service obligation).

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Arlington National Cemetery Reopens to Public, But Most-Visited Sites Still Off-Limits

Arlington National Cemetery will reopen to the general public Wednesday after a six-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But its most visited sites, such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will remain off-limits, the cemetery said in a release Tuesday.

Beginning Wednesday, the hallowed cemetery in Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to noon for visits to gravesites only. Face coverings and social distancing will still be required at all times, the cemetery said.

However, “several places of interest will remain closed to assure health protection conditions,” it added. “These sites include the John F. Kennedy gravesite, the Memorial Amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”

Exhibits in the Welcome Center will also remain closed.

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Service Members, Civilians Bound By DOD Rules During Election Campaigns

It’s election season again, when federal, state and local political campaigns kick into high gear. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper’s latest ethics video lays out the importance of political activity rules that Defense Department civilian employees and service members must follow.

In the 2020 DOD Public Affairs Guidance for Political Campaigns and Elections memorandum of Feb. 11, DOD spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman summarized the rules that apply to all DOD personnel regarding involvement in political events.

“The Department of Defense has a longstanding and well-defined policy regarding political campaigns and elections to avoid the perception of DOD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of any political candidate, campaign or cause,” Hoffman wrote.

“The department encourages and actively supports its personnel in their civic obligation to vote, but makes clear members of the armed forces on active duty should not engage in partisan political activities,” his memo read.

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