SMA Daley polling on possible uniform changes

First, SMA Daley wants to see what interest there is in adding an Ike jacket as an optional purchase to go with the Army’s Class B service uniform.

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I’m…. uncertain. It looks really weird without the usual US and branch insignia pinned on it. One wonders what the AR 670-1 guidance would be for such insignia. The article doesn’t say.

Should the female Drill Sergeant hat be ditched in favor of using the male Smokey the Bear campaign hat for both sexes?

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Sure, why not?

SMA Daley is also looking to whether both sexes should wear the same “bus driver” cap for the Army Service Uniform. Which, I say yes. The current ladies hat is stupid.

He’s looking at a few other changes, but those are the high points.

240 Years of Army Uniforms

With the rollout of the new OCP uniform replacing the hated UCP pattern, IJReview has a brief video showing the evolution of the Army uniform.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7syYj86BxYw]

 

With the increasing costs of combat uniforms, I have a couple of thoughts.

Enlisted personnel are issued free of charge their first uniforms, everything from socks and underwear to the blue Army Service Uniform. Thereafter, enlisted soldiers are required to replace components on their own. They are, however, paid an annual allowance based on the cost of uniform items, and their expected useful lifetime for each component. For instance, the typical grunt will go through socks at a faster rate than the blue coat of the ASU. Unfortunately, the allowance rarely accurately tracks the real lifetime of uniform components, particularly the Army Combat Uniform. Thus, the ever increasing costs of the ACU costs enlisted soldiers out of pocket expenses.

The costs of combat uniforms will only increase, as the Army continues to improve the technology of textiles. Eventually, the replacement costs will become prohibitive for the average soldier.

Further, we’ve already reached a point where the ACU a soldier wears while at his home station is not the same as the uniform he wears when deployed overseas to a combat theater.  Prior to deployment, each soldier is issued a variant of the uniform that has been treated to be more fire resistant.

Probably 90% of the time in garrison, soldiers don’t really need to be clad in camouflage. Time spent in the company area cleaning weapons, or sitting through SHARP training, or in the motor pool performing maintenance on the vehicles is the norm. So why issue an expensive uniform for that? Why not issue a simple, inexpensive uniform for day to day wear that comprises the vast majority of a soldier’s time?

That uniform could be similar to the simple green fatigue uniform issued in the 1970s and early 1980s.  For those times when training at the home station calls for an actual combat uniform, the ACU in OCP (or future combat uniforms) could be issued as organizational clothing, similar to much of the cold weather gear issued today.

CBS News Atlanta Can’t grasp that uniforms specifically tailored for women might not be Unisex.

A new combat uniform with special consideration to the female body is now available at Fort Gordon, almost a month after the Army announced plans to open all units and military jobs to women by 2016.

The March debut of the Combat Uniform-Alternate is the first in a series of moves the Army hopes to make in the next three years to help female soldiers feel like more professional members, officials said.

With narrower shoulders, a slightly tapered waist and a more spacious seat, the unisex clothing line has been in the works since 2009 and is being issued to all installations – except Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. – for men and women with a smaller or more slender body.

via Unisex Uniforms Debut As Army Opens Units To Women « CBS Atlanta.

This is why people don’t trust the news. Because the news is provided by really, really stupid people.

The headline in the article says “Unisex Uniforms Debut As Army Opens Units To Women,”  which is exactly the opposite of what is actually happening.

Since the introduction of the BDU uniform in the early 1980s, the BDU and its replacement the ACU, have been unisex.

But complaints of the poor fit of these combat uniforms for women have finally lead to the introduction of sizes specifically intended to better fit women’s bodies.

http://cbsatlanta.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/size0.jpg

Further, despite the reporter’s effort to link the uniform to the issue, the new uniform sizes have absolutely no correlation to the planned (insane) inclusion of women in the combat arms of the service by 2016. They’re two wholly unrelated matters. The push to include women in combat arms comes from DoD (and the toadies of the JCS who are falling in line).  The development of clothing sizes is an internal matter almost wholly driven by a small program office in the Army alone, and though the Army laboratory system.

I don’t really expect the so-called reporters at an affiliate station in a secondary market to grasp the complexities of the organization and procurement systems of the military, but you’d think they could at least grasp the basic theme of whatever press release Ft. Gordon rolled out.  You’d think that. But you’d be wrong.

A couple of quick hits

Since tomorrow is a travel day and you likely won’t get a lot of content from me **nudge**Jason/URR/Roamy**nudge**, here’s a couple of bits.

Naval strategy, power projection, hardcore show of force, however you want to describe it. Back in the early 1980s, the Navy, with the newfound guidance of the Maritime Strategy, went out of its way to show the Soviet Union that our Navy could hold them at risk.

USNI blog as a neat little article about that, and then there’s also this.

Do we still have this strategic level thinking and operation capability after 10 years of supporting the War on Terror? I hope so. The strategic pivot to the Pacific will certainly have the brighter minds of the operating forces trying to attain that capability.

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Of course, it’s hard to have a lot of faith in that when the Navy still struggles coming up with a simple uniform for sailors.

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Relative to the first piece up there, Exercise Able Archer scared the crap out of the Soviets. They thought the balloon was going to go up. I think it is fair to say that without that near panic, future efforts between Reagan and Gorbachev to reduce tensions would not have come to pass. And without that, we might not have seen the fall of the Soviet Union. Or at any rate, such a collapse may have had a distinctly different flavor.

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Did I share this picture of Sox before? I dunno. But I like it. So you get it again.

Naval Aviation Old School

CDR Salamander was talkin’ bout some old Naval Uniforms, including the not very lamented Service Dress Grey of World War II.

That put me in mind of one of my all time favorite uniforms of the Navy. The Aviation Working Green Uniform.

AWG

Because of the chilly, dirty nature of early aviation, long before anyone had the bright idea to wear a flight suit, the pioneer Naval Aviators sought a uniform that was warm enough to wear in an open cockpit airplane, and not quite as susceptible to grease stains as, say, the choker white uniform, or the Service Dress Blue uniform. The result was a forrest green uniform that, from the early 1920s to its untimely demise in 2011, was almost unchanged. It also gave us one of the most cherished uniform items of the aviation community, the brown shoes.

The AWG uniform was always optional. That is, officers and chiefs in the aviation community could wear it, but weren’t required to either own or wear it. After the introduction of the flight suit, and the widespread use of the various khaki uniforms over the years, the AWG was somewhat marginalized. Still, it was a great looking uniform. And it confused the heck out of a lot of people. Most folks don’t typically think of sailor types wearing a green uniform.

I still have fond memories as a child of seeing my dad off to work while he wore his greens.

SteeljawScribe has a nice post from a couple years ago about the history of the AWG in Naval History.

Uniformly Insane

We’ve talked a couple times about the foolishness that the Army gets into when it gets around to revising its uniforms.

As bad as the Army is, they can’t compare to the Navy.

“The NWU Type II/III approval is a culmination of a four-year effort comprising all of the expeditionary stakeholders, ensuring we capture the trueoperational requirements our Sailors’ need to succeed on the battlefield,” said Master Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Robert McCue, NWU Type II/III Conformance Test Monitor. “They provide unmatched capabilities to thewarfighter enabling tactical advantage and enhancing mission success thus saving lives.”

The Navy takes on the relatively simple task of finding a working uniform for its enlisted sailors and manages to turn what should be a half hour job for a PO2 into a 4 year fiasco at the highest staff levels. And socks the sailor right in the pocketbook.  And they look like crap.

Go to CDR Salamander for the full rundown.

Uniformly Stupid? Part 1

If you ever visit the naval side of the military blogosphere, like this, or this, or this or this,  you will soon find one of the quick and easy ways to generate hits and comments is to post about the new navy uniforms.

Certain things are just true: the sun rises in the east; the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force will change who in the Wing owns the wrenchbenders who fix the planes, and the new Chief of Naval Operations will set about changing the uniforms. And do it badly. Usually at great expense. Via a committee.

The Army, on the other hand, has been remarkably resistant to this change. The whole time I was in, there were pretty much only two uniforms you had to have. One was the BDU or Battle Dress Uniform.

Korea, 1987, I'm the guy with the radio.
Korea, 1987, I'm the guy with the radio.
Your author, in '86, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Your author, in '86, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The BDU was the primary uniform for work, either back at the home base (what we called “garrison” or in the field for training or war. It was comfortable and practical, loose fitting for ease of movement with large pockets to help carry all the stuff you needed when away from home for long periods of time. It was inspired by the jungle fatigues of the Vietnam war, which were in turn ispired by the paratroopers jump suit of WWII. It was used with few changes from the early 1980’s until just recently.

When troops were stationed in the desert such as during the first Gulf War, they were issued a desert variation of the BDU, the DCU, which came in the original “chocolate chip” version and later, the three tone version.

Around 2004-2005, the BDU was replaced by the Army Combat Uniform, or ACU. The first obvious change is to the camo pattern. The BDU pattern was an adaptation of the Engineering Research & Development Laboratory pattern of 1948 or ERDL 48. The new pattern was a digital pattern of small “pixels” that research showed to actaully do a better job of hiding the wearer in most situation. More subtle changes included changing the layout of the pockets, adapting the jacket to be used with body armor, adding velcro fasteners, zippers in place of buttons, and changing from a black leather boot to a rawhide tan version that didn’t need shining.

Virtually every photo you see today of soldiers in Iraq today shows them in the ACU. Most photos of the Iraqi National Army will show them in a variation of the BDU.

See Part 2 here.