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Army Swears Expert Action Badge Isn't A Participation Trophy
Earlier this year, the Army announced plans for a new badge to test soldiers from military occupational specialities who don’t have a formal way to certify their skills. Under the plan, everyone — not just grunts, medics or non-infantry soldiers who see combat — can get a badge.
The Expert Action Badge is undergoing testing and is still just a concept, but that hasn’t stopped critics from speaking up at a recent town hall hosted by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command; soldiers have also voiced their concerns in the comment sections of articles all across the internet. Many argued that the proposed badge is a participation trophy for POGs.
“Just name it the PPA. The POG Participation Award,” Kieth Stone, an Army veteran, commented on Facebook in April. “They can bust it out, and show it off to the grandchildren when they tell them the story about walking back from salsa night at the MWR, when they heard a mortar go off, that one fateful night.”
But now the Army is pushing back. The service seems to be making the case that yes, yes, we heard you, we know you don’t like it, but we still want to do it, and has been conducting town halls to convince the troops.
“I know there are some thoughts out there that it’s going to be, ‘Everybody gets it,’” Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, with the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis, Virginia, said in a March town hall. “No. It’s not a participation trophy. The infantryman does his infantry tasks every day, but yet only about 25 percent of them get the badge when they go compete for it.”
The Expert Action Badge won’t become a reality for several years, if at all, and would require soldiers to complete 30 tasks and battle drills, in addition to five mental tasks selected by their commander, plus some “surprise extra events,” over the course of three to four weeks.
The idea of doling out badges to those who complete a course and verify their job-specific skills is nothing new in the military. In the Navy and Coast Guard nearly every sailor must meet specialty requirements for their ship or field, as Task & Purpose’s Adam Weinstein pointed out in March.
For those concerned that a new badge will devalue other badges, like the Expert Infantryman Badge, Expert Field Medical Badge, the Combat Infantryman Badge, or the Combat Action Badge, the Army brass is saying that’s not the case.
“It’s not to say one has more value than the other,” Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, with TRADOC, said. “It’s about improving individual proficiency, getting that expertise and rediscovering a culture of training your soldiers.”
Understandably, hell, predictably, a lot of trigger-pullers and frontline soldiers don’t like the idea of everyone getting a new piece of bling for their uniform, and now they’ve had a chance to voice their concerns. Whether or not the Army listens and acts on it, that’s another thing entirely.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.