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.
In 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.