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Editor’s Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

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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.

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Quality squad leaders are made, not born.  They are trained by other internal experienced NCO’s.  The position of squad leader is the least experienced and the most junior of all infantry positions.  Yet, it often is the most important on the field of battle as well as the least capable of supervision. Combat forces a largely independent action environment on the squad despite the finest communication technology available.  In the heat of the moment, the squad reacts with deeply visceral, immediate impulsive responses to an enemy. The only control mechanisms are previous training and immediate leadership. And that is, inevitably, a squad leader.

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We read every day about the new strategy, plans, and programs to build our defense and how much they will improve our combat competency. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently announced a major new initiative, the creation of the Close Combat Lethality Task Force, to examine how to make our leading edge combat elements much more lethal and effective on the battlefield.  

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michael Walters

After years of research and a modest price tag, the Marine Corps has decided to scrap its headless robotic mule. Officially called the Legged Squad Support System, or LS3, the robot was designed to lighten Marines’ loads while out on patrol, reports Hope Hodge Seck for Military.com.

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