From Military Times:
Congress will try one more time to get the Pentagon to cease its uniform madness and adopt a common camouflage pattern for all four services.
The compromise defense authorization bill for 2014 includes a provision that directs the Defense Department to “to adopt and field a common combat and camouflage utility uniform, or family of uniforms, for specific combat environments, to be used by all members of the armed forces.”
And if that becomes law, as appears likely, it would change the future image of the joint force.
For years, lawmakers have been annoyed by the military services’ increasingly elaborate wardrobe of camouflage variants designed for the same forward-deployed environments. Over the past decade, the four services have developed at least seven new combat utility uniforms, each with its own unique design.
More at the link.
And here, from The Washington Post, is the problem:
A lot of different patterns, huh? Well, I’m going to take this opportunity to point out something I’ve noticed from the Rule 5 posts which feature Israel Defense Forces soldiers: The IDF, which faces continual low-level actions, and occasional major flare-ups, and has to be combat-ready at all times, utilizes a monochromatic uniform. It would seem that the Israelis, who face such serious threats that they must impose near-universal military conscription on both men and women, and whose leadership are almost all veterans,1 men experienced in war, don’t see much value in the camouflage uniforms. The IDF website has an article, Chameleon Soldiers: Camouflage in the IDF, showing how IDF soldiers use camouflage, but it is all with local materials, and not a pattern on their uniforms.
PATTERN MILITARY BRANCH DEVELOPMENT COSTS BACKGROUND Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), left; Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU) Before 2002, all U.S. military branches used the same two camouflage patterns: a predominantly green one for woodlands and predominantly brown one for the desert. Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform, woodland and desert (shown) $319,000 The Marine Corps produced new and markedly better camouflage patterns. But the Marines took steps to make sure they weren’t copied or used by other services. One such measure: The Marines inserted small Marine Corps logos into the pattern. Army Combat Uniform (ACU) $2.63 million The Army unveiled its own “universal” camouflage pattern, intended for use in all environments. But that choice was marred with shortcuts and mistakes. The Army commissioned a study of which pattern worked best, but the brass chose this pattern before that study was finished. Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) $3.1 million Most Air Force personnel work far from the front lines. But that force has its own “tiger stripe” uniform. Now, Air Force personnel in Afghanistan are told to wear Army Operation Enduring Freedom Pattern camouflage instead. The Airman Battle Uniform is now prohibited for use in battle. Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) $2.9 million For troops in Afghanistan, the Army scrapped the pattern it had introduced in 2005 and replaced it with a new one. Now, the Army is working to replace this replacement. It is expected to present another camouflage pattern later this year. The Army estimated that switching out the uniforms cost more than $38.8 million. Navy Working Uniform Type I $435,000 (combined with other 2011 patterns) The Navy designed this camouflage-style uniform for settings where camouflage is not usually necessary: on Navy bases and ships. Sailors call them “aquaflage” or “blueberries.” Navy Working Uniform Type II (desert) $435,000 (combined with other 2011 patterns) In the mid-2000s, the Navy decided it needed its own distinct uniform for fighting on land. But the Marine Corps objected, because the pattern was similar to the Marine one. Now, the Navy limits the use of this pattern: It is worn only by Special-Operations troops and Navy personnel supporting them. Navy Working Uniform Type III (woodland) $435,000 (combined with other 2011 patterns) This uniform features a green camouflage pattern with Navy logos. Because of the spat with the Marine Corps over the Navy’s desert camouflage, some Navy forces in the Middle East have been issued these uniforms instead. New camouflage pattern $4.2 million At some point this year, the Army is expected to announce a new camouflage pattern for troops in Afghanistan.
SOURCES: U.S. Government Accountability Office; wire photos. GRAPHIC – The Washington Post. Published May 8, 2013.
Look at the camouflage pattern in the Navy Working Uniform Type I above. Why, I have to ask, do sailors need camouflage uniforms while working on the deck of a ship? It looks to me like the only “advantage” would be to hide the sailor who fell overboard!
Well, perhaps there really is a military value to camouflaged uniforms, as opposed to the olive drab in which our soldiers and Marines fought their way to victory in World War II; I’ll leave that call to the experts in the Department of Defense. But it is clear that the individual services don’t all need to have separate camouflage patterns, and that the military has been wasting money in this area . . . and we don’t have the money to waste.
Of course, an obvious question: why has it taken the efforts of Congress to change this? Why haven’t the various civilian leaders in the Defense Department put a stop to this already?
- Senators join push toward a common combat uniform
- Congressional agreement on common combat uniform
- House panel votes in favor of common combat uniform across services
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Forces during the Six-Day War in 1967, and became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit. He took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), Operation Gift (1968) and Operation Isotope (1972), during which he was shot in the shoulder. He fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is also a combat veteran and former commander of the Sayeret Matkal. ↩