The Army Is Testing A Microwave Weapon System In The Mountains Of New Mexico

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base has turned its massive MaxPower microwave defense system over to the U.S. Army for new rounds of research and development.

The system, which the AFRL built to destroy improvised explosive devices, will now be housed at New Mexico Tech’s Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center near Socorro. The center, which includes a 40-square-mile field laboratory in the mountains adjacent to the university, has been used for explosives research and testing by NM Tech for government and private clients for more than 60 years.

The Army’s Armament, Research, Development and Engineering Center took over the MaxPower program this week.

The system packs a full gigawatt of concentrated electromagnetic power into an armored truck. That’s one billion times the power of an average home microwave oven, allowing the vehicle to instantly destroy IEDs as it cruises through battle zones.

AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland built the system for $50 million from 2007 to 2012, and then deployed it for nine months of testing in Afghanistan. Since then, it’s been housed at the AFRL’s High Power Microwave division, where lab scientists and engineers continue to work on new microwave systems that can be used to destroy enemy targets without harming people or infrastructure.

MaxPower, however, is the only microwave weapon to date to be deployed on the battlefield. The Air Force also brought a nonlethal, vehicle-mounted Active Denial System, or “Pain Ray,” to Afghanistan. It causes a burning sensation on skin to disperse crowds or force people to drop their weapons, but it was never used.

“MaxPower was one of the first Directed Energy systems that we deployed and used in theater,” said AFRL High Power Electromagnetics Division lead Mary Lou Robinson in a statement. “Active Denial was deployed but never turned on. MaxPower overcame that fear, hesitation, and stigma of using something in the theater that you can’t see, and it was used many times.”

The vehicle was on point for 19 combat missions with convoys across IED-infested roads and highways in Afghanistan, said 2nd Lt. Daniel Gum of the Directed Energy Directorate.

Robinson said the Army is interested in technology that provides effectiveness against explosive hazards and improvised threats, and AFRL will be ready to provide assistance as the project moves forward.

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©2017 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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The L.O.S.E.R. System: 5 Easy Steps To Avoid Being The Vet Everybody Hates

One of the greatest disservices thrust upon transitioning servicemen and women, particularly in the GWOT generation, is the notion that their service distinguishes them from those who didn’t serve.

This mindset doesn’t just come from the daily thank-you-for-your-service platitudes they’ve received from much of the public for over a decade. It comes from leaders in the very institution they’re transitioning out of.

Let’s be real here: Very few organizations on this planet are able to heap praise on people for seemingly ordinary accomplishments like the military does. For proof, look no further than that Army Commendation Medal your roommate received for doing that thing that he was supposed to be doing in the first place, but it just so happened the right person witnessed it. Yes, the same roommate whom you witnessed the week before chugging half a bottle of Black Velvet and puking off the roof of the barracks, before he cried himself to sleep, because his 19-year-old hometown girlfriend wouldn’t drop out of Arizona State and jump on the B.A.H. train with him.

I’m here to remind you that, though the military has left you with many good traits, you are jumping back into the private sector with a whole bunch of learning to do.

When the world is constantly flattering you for your chosen life, the facile idea that you’re special can slowly seep into your brain, whether you realize it or not. Consequently, many veterans jump into the civilian world with the impression that their military service makes them uniquely qualified for any job at hand.

I know this, because I made almost every conceivable mistake during my own transition, and for the past four years I’ve watched others nauseatingly put the onus for their own transition woes on the public and not their own poor decisions. Their frustration about not getting the work they want consistently turns into internet outbursts that read something like “I FOUGHT 4 my country and came back to a place that wont give me a job cuz these civilian morans cant handle ppl like us!!!!”

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“Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.” “So… you have janitorial skills?”

Don’t worry. I’m here to remind you that, though the military has left you with many good traits, you are jumping back into the private sector with a whole bunch of learning to do.

I’ve created a system to help those who are about to or have recently separated from the military. I call it L.O.S.E.R.

Behold its steps:

L: Listen to others.

This is self-explanatory. Do you remember your early days in basic training, M.O.S. school, and arriving at your new unit? You realized right away that everyone above the rank of private probably knew more than you, and you listened to what they had to say — partly because they had the knowledge, and partly because you were so naïve that you weren’t in a position to question anything.

This step is applicable to entering a new job or educational opportunity you’ve secured post-service, but you can also apply it to your job or school search. There are other veterans studying or working in your potential career field, so hit them up, ask questions, listen, and—at the very least—act like a fly on the wall and just absorb what you hear around you.  

O: Operate like you know nothing.

This shades fairly close to Step 1, but its distinctive flavor comes from a mental cleansing of certain things that made you stand out in your service. I’m not saying you need to pull an “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and completely erase the military from your memory. But proficiencies like P.F.T. and rifle scores, combat experience, and your master floor-buffing abilities are not applicable in the private sector.

I can’t stress the middle of that last sentence enough: Your combat experience will not make you look sexier to potential employers, and dwelling on downrange exploits will only make you look like a psycho.

The Romans had a phrase, tabula rasa. It basically means “blank slate.” Your next step in life, especially if you come from a combat arms background, is more than an extension of the military world you just came from. You must look at this part of your life as a rebirth. You know nothing, but you have the capacity to learn and do everything.

S: Sell your qualities, not your service.

All that said, remember to highlight all the good things about your service without making everything revolve around your service. You can bring all the good attributes you acquired—leadership, tact, your ability to withstand an ass chewing—without solely concentrating on your service. Your military experience is merely a footnote in the story of you and your developing skills.

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“IN THE FIELD, WE HAD A CODE OF HONOR.” “Sir, this line is for issues with your Comcast bill.”

Like anything in life, your actions will speak louder than your words. Don’t be John Doe the Veteran in your civilian life. Be John Doe the Productive and Well-Liked Member of Society Who Happens to be a Veteran. Show up. Have a good attitude. Be nice to people. Don’t cram your service down their throats and make social situations awkward.

E: Expect setbacks.

Nobody promised you that separation was going to be a rose garden. A lot of vets want to get down on themselves and gripe about how tough the civilian world is. Buddy, I assure you the civilian world is tough for civilians, too. It’s called life.

If you’re not completely full of yourself, you’ll take the jobs you can get, when you can get them. Thinking that the world is somehow out to get you is snowflake stuff. You’re not a snowflake, are you?

R: Roll up your sleeves and go to work.

Do the work. Whether it’s an actual job or going back to school, just show up and put in the effort. It’s not (usually) going to be like the military, where you can sneak off at random times and catch a nap under your vehicle. You’ll actually have to consistently be there. Trust me, you’ll get used to it.

Whatever you do, don’t fall into the post-service trap in which you become a professional veteran. There’s a passion for you to discover. There’s money to be made. There’s a new life to build. You just have to appreciate the rest of the people in this country the same way you appreciated the people you served with. You can either do that, or you can be the veteran nobody wants to be.

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Army Reservist Abandons Dying Fellow Soldier After Crash, Says He ‘Did Not Care’

A drunken driver who crashed into a Lakewood, Washington power pole and killed his passenger Wednesday said he doesn’t care about the man he left bleeding when he ran from the scene, records show.

While two officers were applying tourniquets to Hernan Barragan’s arm and leg in an effort to save his life, Jefferson Taylor was trying to push his way into a nearby apartment to hide from police.

Taylor, a 21-year-old Joint Base Lewis-McChord resident, struggled with officers and allegedly threatened to kill them as he was taken to the hospital.

Barragan died at the scene, 40 minutes after the wreck.

Pierce County prosecutors on Thursday charged Taylor with vehicular homicide, two counts of third-degree assault, failure to remain at a fatal collision and obstructing a law enforcement officer in connection with Barragan’s death.

Barragan, 32, was an active-duty member of the Army Reserve. He was from Hollister, California, and stationed at JBLM.

It’s unclear how the two men knew each other and where they were coming from when Taylor crashed his pickup truck.

Charging papers give this account:

Taylor was driving more than 80 mph in a 25 mph speed zone when he lost control shortly after midnight on 108th Street Southwest at Douglas Drive Southwest.

The truck hit a power pole and kept going another 500 feet, shearing off two streets signs before stopping in the road.

Witnesses said Taylor took off running right after the crash.

Barragan was still seat belted in the passenger seat when police arrived. Officers tried to revive him and firefighters managed to extricate him from the crumpled vehicle, but Barragan died.

Police used a search dog to track Taylor to a nearby apartment complex, where officers could hear yelling.

They found Taylor lying on the ground outside an apartment door covered with bloody handprints. Taylor was bleeding profusely from a head wound.

Although Taylor claimed the man who lived in the unit shot him, officers determined that Taylor woke the man up by pounding on the door and tried to push his way inside when he heard police approaching the area.

Taylor struggled with police as he was taken into custody, kicking one officer in the chest. He kicked the doors and windows of the patrol car and repeatedly spit blood and threatened to kill officers.

“When told that Mr. Barragan was dead, the defendant responded with expletives, stating he did not care about him,” according to charging papers. “The defendant then launched back into his verbal attacks on the officers.”

Medical staff had to sedate Taylor so they could treat his head wound.

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©2017 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Army Taps Fort Hood Commander To Lead Anti-ISIS Fight

The Army announced Friday that a new commander will take the reins this summer in the fight against Islamic State, as the fall of Mosul in Iraq looms and focus increases on Raqqa in Syria.

About 250 soldiers from the III Corps Headquarters at Fort Hood will deploy this summer across Kuwait and Iraq to take on operational control of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition assembled to defeat ISIS, an Army news release stated.

It is the third scheduled rotational deployment of a Corps command to lead the operation since 2015, when Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, then the III Corps commander, was tasked with leading the effort.

The ongoing operation will be led by III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, who will assume duties from Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, now in command of Operation Inherent Resolve, said Christina Kretchman, an Army spokeswoman.

Townsend, who arrived in Iraq with the Fort Bragg-based XVIII Airborne Corps in August, oversaw the offensive in Mosul, which began in October and took back eastern and parts of the western portion of the city. Coalition forces are now grinding toward tight alleys and streets of the Old City section, one of few remaining ISIS strongholds.

Funk took over command of Fort Hood and III Corps this year, Stars and Stripes reported in January. His previous post was at the Pentagon as assistant deputy chief of staff of the Army.

On Friday, the Army also announced about 3,500 hundred soldiers also from Fort Hood are slated for a regular rotation deployment to South Korea.

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in Texas will replace a brigade based at Fort Riley in Kansas, which is wrapping up a nine-month tour, a news release stated.

Pressure and scrutiny has mounted on the Korean Peninsula in recent months as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un continues testing ballistic missiles, launching one as recently as May 14.

Stars and Stripes reported May 1 that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, an anti-missile battery, reached its initial ability to thwart rocket attacks — a key development as North Korean tests escalate.

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©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Army Announces Upcoming Deployments Of 3,700 Soldiers

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

The U.S. Army on Friday announced its plans to deploy about 3,700 soldiers to Korea as well as to Iraq and Kuwait.

Some 3,500 soldiers from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy this summer to the Republic of Korea, according to an Army press release.

As part of the regular rotation of forces, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team will replace the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division and support the United States Forces-Korea’s commitment to its Republic of Korea partners, the release states.

“The Black Jack Brigade looks forward to returning to the Republic of Korea,” said Col. Steve Adams, commander of 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. “Our troopers are trained and ready for this vital mission, and we are honored to sustain and strengthen this long-standing strategic alliance.”

The Army will also deploy about 250 soldiers from the III Corps Headquarters stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, to Iraq and Kuwait, this summer in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Also a regular rotation of forces, III Corps will replace XVIII Airborne Corps as the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“III Corps is ready for this important mission. We will build upon the success of the XVIII Airborne Corps. The Phantom Corps looks forward to maintaining the momentum of the campaign as CJTF-OIR with more than 60 coalition nations and partner organizations,” said III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II.

The article originally appeared on Military.com.

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18 Women Graduate From Army’s Enlisted Infantry Training

Moments before 18 women were about to walk across Inouye Field at Fort Benning to become brand new privates and specialists, a female drill sergeant offered clarity.

“This is a big deal,” she said to the younger women Friday morning on the grounds of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. “You are making f—ing history.”

It was the kind of clarity that only a drill sergeant can provide.

The four women were among 18 who graduated from One Station Unit Training as the first women to take the enlisted route to become infantrymen.

It was another in a string of historic Army gender-integration events that have played out at the Maneuver Center of Excellence over the last four years. Friday was part of the third and final phase.

Though Friday’s graduates are the first enlisted women to complete infantry-specific basic training, they are part of a much broader initiative that started in 2013 when the Army made the formal move to integrate women into previously closed military occupational specialties.

The women will be moving to assignments at either Fort Hood, Texas, or Fort Bragg, N.C. They will be going to units where there will be women in positions of responsibility at platoon, company and battalion level, Army officials have said. Some will remain at Fort Benning to complete Airborne School before moving to a unit.

During Friday’s graduation ceremony, there was no official mention of the historic event and media coverage was limited to two outlets, The New York Times and Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. The only time gender was mentioned during the ceremony was when various speakers referred to the new soldiers as “infrantrymen” and 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment commander Lt. Col. Sam Edwards referred to the Infantry in its historic context as “Queen of Battle.”

The colonel, charged with overseeing the basic training at Fort Benning, said the women earned the blue cords and the right to call themselves infantrymen.

“It is not soccer camp. Everybody doesn’t get a trophy here,” said Col. Kelly Kendrick, 198th Infantry Brigade commanding officer. “It’s very demanding. And we only give this to those who earn it. We don’t give this away — man or woman.”

There were 48 women trainees who arrived at Fort Benning in February, and 32 of them were deemed ready to attempt basic training without any additional physical training. The 18 graduates were among those 32 soldiers.

There were 148 men who started the class, and 119 of them graduated.

‘I am like anybody else’

The integrated training of men and women soldiers has played out at the Maneuver Center of Excellence in a public way since early 2015 when 19 women became the first soldiers to attend Ranger School, the Army’s most demanding combat arms training. Capt. Kristen Griest, then assigned to military police, and Capt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot, became the first women to earn the Ranger tab in August 2015. Maj. Lisa Jaster completed the training two months later.

A year ago, the first women to attended the basic officer leadership courses reported to Fort Benning to begin the integration of the officer ranks in Armor and Infantry. In October 2016, 10 women graduated the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course, the in December 2016, another 10 women graduated the Armor Basic Officer Leadership Course, becoming first lieutenants.

“We started with leaders first,” Kendrick said. “We have female company commanders out in the formation now. We have graduated lieutenants, I saw some of them out there this morning. We have produced four NCOs who have changed their MOS that have proceeded the privates. So, what you have here is the last step in producing soldiers that will be part of those formations … for integration here.”

Unlike the open media process during much of Ranger School, Maneuver Center of Excellence officials only allowed limited access over the last three weeks of the 14-week training. Reporters agreed to embargo coverage until the class graduated on Friday.

None of the privates, men or women, were allowed to speak on the record, though five recent graduates, including two women, spoke to reporters from the Ledger-Enquirer and The New York Times on Thursday.

The reason for enlisting was summed up by one woman, who was previously a college athlete.

“I am like anybody else, I want to make my hometown proud,” she said. “I like being a part of a team. What better team to be a part of than the Army.”

Both women made available to the media said they had followed gender integration over the last two years and were aware of the first three women to earn Ranger tabs. One of the two women said she was planning to attempt Ranger School in the future.

U.S. Army photo

U.S. Army Infantry soldiers-in-training assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, begin their first day of Infantry One Station Unit Training February 10, 2017, on Sand Hill.

“They were heroes for me,” one of the women said.

The other was more succinct.

“Bad asses,” she said, describing Griest, Haver and Jaster.

The fact that the Army is trying to protect the identity of the women who just graduated basic training is a lesson learned from Ranger School, said Kris Fuhr, a 1985 West Point graduate who has had the opportunity to get to know many of the women who have attended Ranger School, ABOLC and IBOLC over the past two years.

It is important that these new soldiers be able to report to their units without appearing to seek media attention, Fuhr said.

“These soldiers want to be treated as soldiers,” Fuhr said. “They are not seeking special attention. They are at Fort Benning to train just like any other soldier. Their accomplishments are no different than their classmates who also meet the standards and graduate. They want to train, head out to their units and contribute to the mission.”

And the training was demanding, said Kendrick.

“In 14 weeks, we have the highest physical demands of any MOS they have to meet in the Army in the shortest length of time,” Kendrick said. “Our mission was to execute gender integration.”

One of those charged with the execution was Capt. Seth Davis, Alpha Company, 19th Infantry Regiment commander. He had his orders and he was carrying them out during field training exercises on the far northeast corner of Fort Benning earlier this month.

“Everyone has their opinion, but at the end of the day this is Army policy and we are going to gender integrate the infantry branch and we are going to do it successfully,” Davis said.

The changing face of the Army

That is the approach that many of those instructors — from Ranger School to the Basic Officer Leadership Courses for infantry and armor — have had over the last two years as this training has played out at Fort Benning.

To integrate the ranks, Fort Benning had to first integrate the drill sergeants, the first taste of the Army for most of the civilians turned trainees. One of those pioneers was Sgt. 1st Class Karen Carter, senior drill sergeant for the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company.

“At first, I was kind of surprised to get orders for drill and coming here,” Carter said. “The first couple of months, it has been one of the best decisions. I feel like we are the face of the Army. We are the first ones they see when they come into the military. Just being here is an honor and it enhances my leadership skills.”

U.S. Army photo

U.S. Army Infantry soldiers-in-training assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, conduct their ‘Turning Blue Ceremony’ where they put on their distinctive blue cords identifying them as infantrymen May 18, 2017, at Sand Hill’s Pomeroy Field.

One of the male soldiers who spoke to the media said having female drill sergeants was not a big deal.

“My mother is a strong woman and I have taken a lot of orders from her over the years,” the soldier said.

Two years ago, Ranger instructors spoke of the historic nature of the gender integration of the Army’s most difficult combat leadership school. There is also a historic feel to this basic training class, Carter said.

“I feel like it’s a big deal, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “It’s still training. … It’s just historic because we are here. But it’s the same standards.”

That is coming down from the top. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, commander of Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, who is not surprised that the number of women completing these initial integrated courses is small.

“We never anticipated to see a significant influx into the combat arms,” Snow said. “The research indicated that the majority of the women will still go into non-combat positions. But what it did do for us — and believe this in my heart of hearts — it caused women to look at the Army in a different light and say, ‘Hmm, it’s now a level playing field.’ So even though they didn’t go into combat arms, we had a good year in 2016. We had 14,000 women make the decision to join the regular Army and Army Reserves. That was the best year in 10 years from a percentage perspective, and I think we are on track to do the same thing this year.”

Women failing to meet the standard than men by percentage is not surprising, said Kendrick, who offered an explanation.

“Most of female trainees are on the lower scale of height and weight — 5-foot-3, 5-foot-4, 5-foot-2, 5-foot, 120 pounds, 100 pounds — our physical requirements are not altered for any percentage of body weight,” Kendrick said. “They carry the same load as everybody else. What we find is when you have a smaller, skinnier person — frail, I guess would be a word — those physical requirements are very difficult.”

Currently, there are about 100 women either training or in the pipeline to do infantry basic training at Fort Benning, Snow said. The publicity generated from the first class to graduate should help increase that number, Snow said.

As news of the first class of women to graduate infantry basic training spreads, Snow said it should help the Army recruit quality women who want the challenge.

“I think the potential is there,” Snow said. “When that word gets out there, I think that will resonate with the women of today.”

Snow said there is no quota of women that he are his Army recruiters must meet.

“I have not been given a quota,” Snow said. “And I think that’s the right answer because I don’t ever want to put my recruiters in a position where they are trying to compel anyone to do something for which they have not volunteered to do.”

The fact that 18 of 48 women made the cut to infantrymen in the initial class speaks to the maintaining of standards, Snow said.

“I would have liked it to be a little higher, but the reality is if it means only 18 women were able to complete the course, consistent with the standard, then I think it’s the right number,” Snow said. “The Army and the leadership has been very clear that we are not going to lower standards.”

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©2017 the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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