We've been obsessivelytracking 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."
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
U.S. troops rejoice — the midnight curfew for service members in South Korea has been temporarily suspended, as command evaluates if you can be trusted to not act like wild animals in the streets of Pyeongtaek.
Late last month Activision's Infinity Ward dropped a teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — a soft-reboot of one of it's most beloved games — and just two weeks after the May 30 reveal, the game developer unveiled some new details on what's in store for the first-person shooter's multiplayer: Juggernaut and ghillie suits!