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Seven Soldiers Set to Compete at 2018 Winter Olympics

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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Army will be well represented at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games when seven of its own will compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Returning in bobsled will be 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist Sgt. Justin Olsen from San Antonio, Texas; 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist Cpt. Chris Fogt from Alpine, Utah; and 2010 and 2014 Olympic team member Sgt. Nick Cunningham from Monterey, California. Olsen and Cunningham are members of the New York National Guard. They will be joined by Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Weber, of the 10th Special Forces, from Pueblo West, Colorado.

Sgt. Emily Sweeney from Suffield, Connecticut, and Sgt. Taylor Morris from South Jordan, Utah, will complete in singles luge, along with Sgt. Matthew Mortensen from Huntington Station, New York, who is competing in the doubles luge event.

All seven participants are part of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command’s World Class Athlete Program. Soldiers in the program balance athletic training with their military careers, and are soldiers first.

The program was established by the Army to support Public Law 84-11, which allows the Army to provide soldiers, including those in the National Guard and the Army Reserve, to train for and participate in athletic competitions on the world stage.

Most soldiers in the program are assigned to the detachment and train on Fort Carson or at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Others train with the U.S. national team for their specific sport.

Soldiers must be nationally ranked in their chosen sport to be considered for the program.  They represent the United States and the Army, maintain their military occupational skills, and often return to traditional military units when they are not competing or training.

On average, 40 to 60 soldiers are in the detachment.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army Promises Medical Care for Test Subjects

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By Debbie Gregory.

Decades after the U.S. Army used soldiers to test the effects of potent chemical and biological warfare agents – including some prohibited by the Geneva Protocol – it has begun notifying veterans that they may be eligible for government-paid medical care for related injuries and illnesses.

The Army is notifying veterans that they may be eligible to receive medical care if they participated in U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing from 1942 to 1975 and have an injury or disease that they believe was proximately caused by their participation.

While thousands of U.S. veterans won a 2009 class action suit filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America against The Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Army over being used in the testing, the group’s attorneys say the service branch is falling short of meeting its obligations. The Army is also withholding details veterans are seeking about what agents they were exposed to.

Testing programs with names like Project MKULTRA, Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke exposed military personnel to a variety of substances including psychoactive drugs and irritants such as mustard gas.

The Army tested over 100 “biological and chemical warfare/threat agents and substances, as well as medications, vaccines, and other chemical and biological agent countermeasures,” said MEDCOM Public Affairs Chief Maria L. Tolleson.

According to now-declassified records on many of the programs, soldiers who participated were required to sign oaths of secrecy and received no formal documentation that would prove their involvement.

The Army says its Medical Command is conducting “an exhaustive search” for veterans who may have been research subjects “so that no individual who may benefit from medical care is inadvertently omitted.”

To apply, eligible Veterans must: (1) have a DD214 or the equivalent; (2) have served as a volunteer medical research subject in a U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing program from 1942 to 1975; and (3) have a diagnosed medical condition they believe to be a direct result of their participation in a U.S. Army chemical or biological substance testing program. For more information, visit the Army Medicine website.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Troops’ Biophysical Data Could Lead to Better Weapons, Performance

 

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By Debbie Gregory.

Breakthroughs in biometric science mean future troops will fight with weapons that understand them,  inside and out.

The U.S. military is funding research to collect biophysical data from soldiers, sailors, Marines, and pilots in order to improve troops’ performance by understanding what’s happening inside their bodies.

The research will help develop the next generation of fighter jets, body armor, computer systems, and weapons, which will work more cohesively with those at the controls.

Pentagon-backed researchers are designing an entirely new generation of wearable health monitors that will relay valuable information about the person to whom the system is bound, including focus, alertness, health, and stress.

Over the past two years, the military has purchased more than $2 million worth of biomedical tracking devices. But it turns out that off-the-shelf consumer devices, such as Fitbits, aren’t good enough for the military’s biotracking ambitions.

That’s why researchers are creating a new class of wearables, based on new research into what size electrodes are the most efficient.

One application for such sensors would be helmets that record brain activity while their wearers do their jobs. Modern fighter jets expose human bodies to physical forces that are still not entirely understood. For example, in the past, F-22 pilots reported in-flight episodes of confusion, shortness of breath, and skin-color changes, which are symptoms of hypoxia, or decreased oxygen in the blood. These symptoms were due to speed.

Beyond helmets, Air Force researchers are working on a comprehensive cognitive monitoring system, one which may not need a physical sensor on the body, but rather the information would be gathered using cameras.

In fact, one research project configured a laptop camera lenses to detect hemoglobin oxygenation, which lets you read a person’s heart rate from a distance.

Sensors can also detect changes in metabolism that indicate weariness and stress before the person notices.

These innovations are making their way into actual gear and weapons. By 2020, Navy SEAL teams and Army Rangers could take down high-value targets while wearing an exoskeleton that’s earned the nickname ‘Iron Man.’

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army Sends Congress List of Needs

troop strength

By Debbie Gregory.

The Army has been steadily drawing down the force since 2012, decreasing its numbers from a war time high of 570,000 active Army soldiers.

But following the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act in December, the Army is poised to increase its end-strength by 16,000 more soldiers than originally planned. What is yet to be determined is the amount of funding the Army will get in the fiscal year 2017 budget and beyond to cope with the proposed troop increase.

The bill adds billions of dollars for “unfunded priorities” that the Obama administration left out of its budget request. The House bill partly pays for those programs by siphoning about $18 billion from the account that directly supports overseas contingency operations.

Congress has yet to pass a 2017 appropriations bill, keeping the Defense Department operating under 2016 funding levels until April 30, 2017.

Besides troop strength, there is a need for modernization, particularly in aviation. The Army is asking for $2.5 billion for 10 new-build AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and advanced procurement for an additional 10 aircraft, 14 new-build CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters, 17 LUH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters, and 12 additional Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft.

Additionally, Bradley Fighting Vehicle production would be sped up to build one cavalry squadron set. The Army would also ramp-up the pace to modernization of 140 Stryker armored fighting vehicles to the Double V-Hull (DVH) variant as well as the production of 18 M88A2 Hercules armored recovery vehicles, which would accelerate the pure-fleet of M88A2 for all Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT) and ABCT support units.

Among other armor formation upgrades, the Army would procure battalion mortar capability for three ABCTs and would fund research and development to increase fire power of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle with a 30mm gun.

Electronic warfare is also a growing concern and the Army would speed up the procurement of ground and air electronic warfare capabilities.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Flooding Causes Accident that Claims Three Soldiers, Six Still Missing

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By Debbie Gregory.

Our sincerest condolences go out to the families and friends of the three soldiers tragically killed on June 2nd , when their Light Medium Tactical Vehicle was washed from a low-water crossing and overturned. Three soldiers were rescued, but six soldiers remain unaccounted for. Army aircraft, canine search teams, swift-water rescue watercraft and heavy trucks are taking part in the rescue mission.

“The search is ongoing for six soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division,” Fort Hood officials said in a statement.

Fort Hood spokesman John Miller said the low-water crossing of the creek was flooded by two days of heavy rains.

The storm system that moved through the Houston-area Wednesday night and Thursday morning dropped some eight inches of rain, causing flooding

Currently, close to half of the state of Texas is under flood watches or warnings, in some neighborhoods.

The river reached 54.8 feet in Fort Bend County — 4 feet higher than the record set in 1994 — with water spilling into neighborhoods that hadn’t previously flooded. Officials say levels in the Brazos have not dropped much and additional rainfall could make the flooding worse.

Depending on how much rain falls, the Brazos River could even rise to up to 56 feet, said Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert.

The names of the deceased soldiers will be withheld pending notification of their next of kin, the military said.

Built in 1942 and named after the Confederate General John Bell Hood, Fort Hood is the largest active-duty Army base in the US. It is located halfway between Austin and Waco, Texas.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.