In the beginning there were BDU uniforms. And it was good, for the soldier and the marine romped in the valley along with the sailor and airmen and all were at peace. Then the marine sayeth "Am I not a marine? Is not my uniform to be of different pattern?" And a great discourse fell upon the land...
When I first joined the military back in 1986 the BDU pattern utility was still the "new uniform" that was being introduced. Matter of fact I remember seeing guys from the 4th Ranger Training Brigade on Ft. Benning still wearing the OG-108 uniform while I was there. In a short time even those troops lost the ability to use those uniforms and everyone (well save the guys whose ops are blacker that black) was wearing the BDU. Personally, I liked them. They were generally fairly comfortably, wore well and could be "tailored" for either field or garrison use. Matter of fact, many soldiers had uniforms that would only be worn in one environment or the other. For a while the BDU was the standard uniform of all of the armed forces, each with minor differences from one another. The Army wore the god awful patrol cap and OD US Army and last name tapes along with special skill and unit badges; the Air Force wore baseball caps with blue Air Force and last name tapes along with badges for everything; the marines wore the 8 point cap with a simple USMC iron-on EGA (Eagle, Globe and Anchor) on one pocket and later added OD US Marine and last name tapes; the Navy pretty much followed along with the Marines for "battle uniforms" for corpsmen and the like but retained the old blue jumpsuits and dungarees for shipboard use.
|BDU uniforms being worn by Rangers in Panama...good enough for these guys but not Marines?|
|Not a damn thing wrong with this desert uniform...|
|Yeah, I admit it looks good....too bad they won't share...|
Well the Army, not to be caught in a "uniform gap" with the other services decided to create their own camo pattern when they found out the Marines were. From what I had heard they had picked out a series of colors based around a light green and gray pattern that worked out well in testing when used in a DPM (splotches like the BDU pattern) scheme, but as soon as they found out the marines were using a digital pattern decided to use the chosen colors that way and what we got was the ACU uniform. This was the last uniform that I wore (literally, I retired from the National Guard, had cake and punch on the drill floor, not some fancy retirement dinner) and while comfortable, the grayish pattern did look out of place in a brown desert. However, this being said I have not been able to find any creditable reports where troops were injured as a direct result of their camo. Moving in large units in motorized convoys tends to take the edge off the element of surprise in many cases.
|Your's truly rocking the ACU at Ali Al Saleem airbase in Kuwait waiting to go home...|
|Apparently the Navy didn't notice the Army stopped wearing colored tapes and badges on its field uniforms back in the 60's and those two in the Air Force uni's will be the toughest looking couple at the karaoke contest at MWR tonight!|
To me, what the military needs to do is take a joint look at what patterns are out there and in use and decide on a common pattern for all of the services to adopt. To me, the clear choices come down to the MARPAT pattern (minus the EGA for the non-Marine services) or the Multicam pattern currently in use in Afghanistan by Army units. I think the use of one pattern would not only help streamline procurement channels across the service (as the BDU's did) but also help avoid any friendly fire or other mistaken identity issues among various US troops. Also, for whatever pattern selected a comparable desert/mountain pattern could be selected. Sure, the boiler operator on a Navy ship will be wearing the same camo as a Marine hitting the beach, but really, other than a recruiting tool, what value does camo on a ship or airfield hold? Each service can tailor the uniform to suit their needs within reason and can add distinguishing insignia as they see fit. I got an idea for the Marines, see that big patch of velcro on the mulitcam uniform....imagine a 3"-4" EGA attached on one of those for every marine, is that esprit de corps enough for ya'?
|Multicam in use by my former unit, Co B 1/148th Infanty, OHARNG, in Afghanistan.|
When it comes down to looking different, there are plenty of occasions to do that when the military gets dressed up for formal occasions and the like and wears some form of dress uniform. All of those are still very distinct.
Please don't anyone take it like I am picking on any specific branch of the military for their choice of uniforms, just look at my home branch and see what a mess they made of the ACU's. All I am trying to get across is that, in my opinion, its wasteful for all the services to have to procure their field uniforms from different sources at different prices. Wanting a different looking uniform just so your branch looks distinct takes away the "one team, one fight" mentality that I think we need as a military.
And in a related vein, here's some related humor from The Duffle Blog......