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.
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.