You Can Finally Watch The Army's 'Third Arm' Exoskeleton In Action

Military Tech

We've been obsessively tracking the Army's work on the "third arm" exoskeleton due to its delightful resemblance to the mechanical harness for the M56A2 Smart Gun from Aliens, and lo, our patience has paid off: After months of tweaks by the Army Research Lab, soldiers are finally giving the lightweight appendage a workout.


The Army Research Laboratory on May 29 published footage of soldiers scrambling through an urban training exercise site at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland with 22-pound M249 and 25-pound M240B machine guns affixed to the end of their harnesses, a step up from the 20-pound defensive shield that the Army initially started testing last year. According to the Army, one sergeant rocking the third arm with a carbine "dove into a prone fighting position from a sprint ... [and] the Third Arm provided immediate stabilization to improve marksmanship for the soldier."

Army Sgt. Michael Zamora uses a prototype Third Arm exoskeleton to easily aim an 18-pound M249 light machine gun during testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, March 14, 2018.U.S. Army/Conrad Johnson

As they did with an initial test group back in 2017, the soldiers described the harness as a major boon, reducing fatigue, improving accuracy and boosting overall lethality. But the third arm still has some kinks to work out.

"We get comments from soldiers who tell us different things about the way it feels on their body… about the way it redistributes the load,"ARL engineer Dan Baechle said in an Army release. "Some like it, some give us tips about the ways it could be improved, and we're using that input to improve the device and improve the design so that it not only works well, but it also feels good."

But get amped: Apparently, the third arm is getting enough attention from senior DoD officials that it may head downrange sooner than expected. "It's been getting a lot of interest higher up in the Army, but also online with some of the stories that have come out," Baechle said. "We're using some of the interest to help motivate further development of the device."

And now, your obligatory Aliens GIF:

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

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The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."

Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.

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The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.

Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.

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I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.

Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.

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An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.

The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

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