As the Armed Forces take a well-deserved break from nearly twenty years of desert operations, many services are taking the opportunity to adjust their uniform standards. The Army was the first to drop their ACU pattern for OCP, with RUMINT leading us to believe that the Air Force may adopt the pattern as well in the next year. The Marines are rolling out a new fast-drying jungle uniform that’s been well received. Now the Navy is in the middle of transitioning their entire force from the “blueberries” digital blues to a digital woodland pattern, a green and tan variation to those already worn by Marines and Seabees.
Reaction from sailors has been overall favorable, a trend that reflects opinions about the 2000-era uniforms. Many servicemen and women thought that the digital camo patterns that came with the new millennium were more form over function; they existed to look sleek and modern rather than being practical. The Marines were the only serviceable to balance a sharp appearance with combat function (surprising absolutely no-one), and it’s no wonder that their uniforms are looking to be the basis for digital patterns going forward.
The most favorable reaction to the Type III uniform has been the adoption of woodland boots. A Navy buddy of mine thought that nothing could beat the slip-on black boots for the blueberries until he tried on the desert boots. There are different design philosophies for designing boots for a ship, airfield, or wilderness, and the desert boots worn by Army and Marines have been designed for foot health and comfort over long days. While the black boots will still be standard footwear, commands have their discretion to allow sailors to wear tan or brown boots with the new uniform. Sailors will also enjoy a more breathable, lightweight fabric, variation in headwear, and an elastic waist, leading to an overall more comfortable wear.
Despite how positive the uniform change is being received, I have one major concern as someone who served through the Army’s ACU to OCP transition. Why keep Velcro pockets? Why keep velcro anything? The Army ditched hook and loop pockets because after a few months of wear they would become useless, not to mention the mental image of tactically marching through the woods only to hear the rip of someone fetching something from their pockets. Buttons and sewn-on ranks and tapes are strictly superior and it’s a shame that Velcro made it to the final uniforms.
While some are questioning standardizing woodland uniforms across all services, it’s important to remember why camouflage exists in the first place; concealment and uniformity. There will always be a distinction between services, but the rebound in woodland camo and the adoption of a combat pattern by the Navy show that if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. And if something is broken, nostalgia isn’t a reason to keep it around.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.