During a House Veterans Affairs Committee on Nov. 2, five senior Veteran Affairs officials, subpoenaed as witnesses on the department’s relocation policy, spent the hearing dodging questions from committee members. Two of the officials, Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves who stand accused of receiving inflated moving expenses, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination.
The three other witnesses subpoenaed by the committee argued that the department’s problems didn’t stem from top-down corruption, but from the department’s rush to fill needed positions. The inspector-general investigation tells a different story. Over the past three fiscal years, the department spent more than $1.5 million on 21 questionable relocation assignments for senior executives, reports Military Times.
“If VA put half of the effort into pushing for true accountability or protecting their employees who come forth as whistleblowers as they have for the individuals investigated in this IG report, then I honestly think the department would be in a much better place,” said Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan on August 7, 2018. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani/File Photo)
MUSCAT/KABUL (Reuters) - Even before any peace push-related drawdowns, the U.S. military is expected to trim troop levels in Afghanistan as part of an efficiency drive by the new commander, a U.S. general told Reuters on Friday, estimating the cuts may exceed 1,000 forces.