This 15-Man Infantry Squad Blows My Mind, Man

The Long March

So, little grasshoppers, I remember some 20 years ago I was visiting an experimental Army unit that was field testing new technologies and, just as importantly, new organizational structures to best use them.


The lieutenant general overseeing all this told me that he thought the company commander of the future would have most of the tools under him that a division commander in World War I would have—that is, infantry, machine guns, some armored vehicles (in the modern case, robots), and even aviation—that is, UAVs, both for recon and strike, giving him or her indirect fires.

This was radical stuff for 1998.

I remembered that conversation when I was reading the March issue of the “Marine Corps Gazette,” in which Maj. Chad Buckel states that:

The future rifle squad should consist of fifteen Marines, with three fire teams of four Marines and a headquarters element of three Marines. They should be equipped with the IAR (infantry automatic rifle), the M4A1, the M203/M320 grenade launcher, an LMG [light machine gun], counter-unmanned systems weapons, the person role radio, and UAS (unmanned aircraft systems).

That’s an awful lot to dump on one squad leader, who also would be qualified as a “joint fires officer.” As my friend Colonel Keith Nightingale might ask, Who would be focusing on keeping them moving and shooting?

U.S. Army Astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain is captured in this photo during a media opportunity while serving as backup crew for NASA Expedition 56 to the International Space Station May, 2018, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. (NASA photo)

NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.

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New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen of the 24th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) and 106th Rescue Wing prepare to identify and classify several hazardous chemical and biological materials during a collective training event at the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Facility, New York, May 2, 2018. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Harley Jelis)

The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.

The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.

The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.

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A U.S. Marine with Task Force Southwest observes Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps soldiers move to the rally point to begin their training during a live-fire range at Camp Shorabak. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Luke Hoogendam)

By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?

Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.

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The Topeka Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Public domain)

The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.

And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.

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Jeannine Willard (Valencia County Detention Center)

A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.

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