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US Camouflage System a Frustrating Debacle | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

US Camouflage System a Frustrating Debacle

Looking at the US military’s camouflage policy from the outside, I have to admit I find it utterly bizarre. Why do all four services have to have their own camouflage patterns? Bluntly, this is stupid. “Branding” has been mentioned, and if there’s any truth in that the people responsible need to be dishonorably discharged. Camouflage is a vital tool for the dismounted soldier – not some kind of marketing statement. The Pentagon needs to find the best available camouflage pattern – which means MultiCam, most likely – and tell all four services to just shut up and wear it.

Now for something even weirder: Up until now, the US Marines have been alternating between temperate and desert MARPAT depending on what season it is – not depending on what the local conditions are like, which makes perfect sense and is why there are two variants of MARPAT in the first place, but on arbitrary dates. If it was, roughly, daylight saving time, you wore desert pattern; when the clocks went back, you switched to the green temperate stuff.

This is moronic.

marinesIn January, the Corps Commandant, General Robert Neller, authorized a uniform policy change that gave commanders a waiver; now they could select a camouflage pattern that suited the local conditions, not one dictated by the calendar. There are some very smart people at senior levels in the USMC, so why did this need a waiver? Wearing the pattern that suits local conditions shouldn’t be something commanders need permission to do. In fact, any commander who doesn’t do it should be immediately discharged, because they’re incompetent.

Deciding what camouflage to wear based on the date is stupid. It’s insane. It has no redeeming merits whatsoever. To his huge credit, General Neller seems to understand this and has axed the idiocy. He’s also extended discretion on when to switch between sleeves down and sleeves up. Again, though, why was this being decided at Corps HQ level anyway? When I was serving, it was decided by the unit’s Regimental Sergeant Major – an OR-9. I’m pretty sure that the Commandant and other senior USMC officers have more important things to worry about than precisely what date the troops roll their sleeves up, so maybe this should have been delegated to local commanders or SNCOs all along.

Anyway, the long-running US camouflage debacle isn’t just frustrating idiocy. It doesn’t just make it harder for allied troops to recognize US forces, by presenting them with a bewildering array of often useless patterns (ACU, anyone?) It’s also wasting large amounts of money that could be spent on better things. The US Navy adopted Navy Working Uniform 1, a blue camouflage pattern for wear by people who work inside grey ships. Then it turned out to be a massive fire hazard, combining easily ignited cotton with nylon that melts into a sticky mess and causes deep burn wounds.

Apparently the Navy were too busy fighting intellectual property battles with the USMC over MARPAT (yes, seriously) to bother with little details like keeping their sailors alive. When they finally worked out that NWU1 was lethal they banned it for shipboard wear, but, being blue, it’s completely useless ashore – so yet another new uniform had to be designed. Finally they cancelled the ammunition for the main weapon system on their new destroyers, because they couldn’t afford it.

Maybe, if they hadn’t wasted millions developing a stupid and pointless camouflage uniform, they could have afforded some shells.

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.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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8 thoughts on “US Camouflage System a Frustrating Debacle

  1. “You’re using your brain again. We’re gonna have to confiscate that.” – US GOV SENIOR MANAGEMENT

  2. Not to mention the Air Force which developed a uniform with a tool pocket (Airmen are forbidden to carry tools in their pocket) and a map pocket (roughly 0.5% of the Air Force is trained in land navigation). Additionally the pattern shows stains easily for a force in which a huge percentage work around POL which stains badly.

    1. I would dispute your 5% figure for land nav. Unless things have changed, all aircrews learn land nav when they go thru survival school.

  3. Seems like you took aim at the Marine Corps. No mention of the Army? Or are you satisfied with their look? Considering all the things going on with the military, uniforms are rather back burner issues AT BEST!

    But seriously. Do you recommend scrapping MARPAT and adopting the Army uniform? Why? Is uniformity that important? Do you really believe that allies have that big a problem identifying US Marines? How could that be when the Brits where the same pattern as the US Army? What is your real complaint here.

  4. “The Pentagon needs to find the best available camouflage pattern – which means MultiCam, most likely – and tell all four services to just shut up and wear it.”
    Well, partly correct. While MultiCam is good pattern for use in SOME environments, the notion that it is, or that there is one universal pattern optimal for all environments is the same delusion that led to adoption of the Universal/ ACU – meaning that it does everything poorly. Sorry, for instance, while MultiCam excels in arid regions, it is not optimal in tropical/woodland applications. The fact remains that there are several major environments for which appropriate patterns should be designed, Except in exceptional situations, there needed be different patterns for differing branches, while one might make a case for small variations in design in order to accommodate any significant compelling variation in function – although I would have to be convinced of that…
    But to your larger point, it is indeed time that symbolism over substance marketing that are historically ingrained in each service branch fiefdom where patterns are seen as a fashion statement be jettisoned and the design of the appropriate optimal patterns left to experts in the field and implemented in conjunction with the actual functional design of the garments.

  5. I concur with establishing a single universal camouflage uniform (MultiCam) to be worn by all armed forces as both their standard work uniform and BDU; however, a separate arid desert camouflage and tropical weight camouflage uniform would be warranted for desert and tropical mission deployments.

    It makes little sense to develop a special camouflage uniform for naval personnel when individual sailors are rarely the target of an assault, as destroying the vessel in large is the focus of an attack. Same goes for Air Force personnel regarding the focus of attack on jets and planes rather than individuals.

    Individuals on the ground in the field is a different matter, and the MultiCam BDU would serve all personnel adequately in the majority of circumstances where stealth and cover can be critical to avoiding easy detection.

    President Trump should advise his cabinet thus to streamline costs.

  6. Some good common sense from our British cousin.

    The USAF ABU is a great example – it is an abomination – it is too heavy, holds in too much heat, has more pockets than are utilized, uses a “camouflage” pattern that actually STANDS OUT in the field…it’s truly pathetic. It is tactically useless and uncomfortable to wear working on a plane or sitting at a desk. The USAF would be best to just go back to the solid OD Green fatigue uniforms of the past. At least they were comfortable in hot climes and blended in with the shrubbery.

  7. The Marine Corps originally dictated seasonal wear for either desert or woodland MARPAT to evenly wear the uniforms so that one type didnt wear out quicker than the other.

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