We had planned on waiting until the CNO chopped on an instruction for the new Navy Working Uniforms Type II / III until we wrote anything more on them, but our friends at KitUp! got a chance last week to speak with the CNO about these new uniforms. This of course unleashed a torrent of emails and phone calls asking us what we knew about the program.
Despite the lack of formal paperwork new Navy uniforms are being procured and fielded. What’s more, they will soon be seen in a combat zone near you.
Naval Special Warfare operations and direct support personnel already have a combat uniform in both AOR I & II in the form of the SOCOM issued PCU Level 9 which began fielding over a year ago. Additionally, they will now have the NWU Type II & III for use based on mission profile as well as for garrison and limited training use. These are supplied by the Navy and are the same uniforms that all Sailors who have traditionally worn cammies will now wear. For the most part, this means NSW and Naval Expeditionary Combat Command but there will also be some additional personnel who will wear these uniforms based on duty position and or mission.
There were two versions of the NWU II / III in test. While there had been rumor of a near mutiny over the uniform’s features, a selection was made. Version 2 won out and it is the more “combat” oriented style of the two. The biggest compromise in the design is the inclusion of straight chest pockets but the flaps are tapered. As you can see from these drawings released last year by the uniform task force, they include features now considered standard in many commercial tactical clothing designs but lacking in other government issue uniforms. Of course the exception to this is the PCU level 9 and you can see some inspiration from that uniform in this new NWU style. The two uniforms are quite complimentary. This design is locked in, at least for the time being, and as quickly as these are being produced, even if any changes were to be made, they wouldn’t make it into the field for some time.
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Even though it doesn’t seem like it, production and issue is moving rapidly. All Navy personnel authorized to wear the NWU Type III should have their uniforms by the end of calendar year 2011 including reserves. Wear of the current Camouflage Utility Uniform is slated to end in the Spring of next year. Remember, for many years before the GWOT the standard garrison and deployed uniform for Naval Expeditionary forces was woodland cammies or CUU. Concentration on the Type III makes sense as the majority of these personnel will be based in or deployed to wooded or jungle environments where that pattern is most appropriate. A desert pattern is truly expeditionary in nature.
The only real question at this point is which desert pattern will the Navy adopt as a service? Our bet is on AOR I for the desert pattern for all Naval expeditionary personnel (including Spec War) if for no other reason than dollars. It is simply cheaper to put everyone in the same pattern. Early on, there may have been a question about whether NSW’s desert uniforms would be paid for by SOCOM or Navy but at this point the funding lines have been drawn by uniform type. SOCOM pays for the Combat uniform and Navy pays for the Field uniform. Combat uniforms only go to NSW, field uniforms (Type II / III) go to all Expeditionary forces including NSW.
Uniformity in pattern would be nice as well. Why have two versions of the NWU Type II? There’s so much bleed over between NSW and the rest of the Navy’s expeditionary force that they often work together. Why give the enemy the advantage of figuring out who is what, based on their clothing? One of the reasons that a Navy Instruction still hasn’t been released for the new NWU variants is most likely the question of desert camouflage and the future of the NWU Type II.
We also had a couple of other points that we wanted to address.
At some point in this article we had to shoot-in-the-face the rumors that the reason the Navy did not adopt AOR 1 for all expeditionary personnel was that the Marines told them they couldn’t use it. We have no idea where it originated but it is utter nonsense.
Additionally, we have no word yet on issue of additional organizational clothing such as hats, gloves and foul weather gear.
Finally, the Anchor Constitution and Eagle emblem embedded in the NWU blue camouflage has also been embedded in both AOR 1 & 2 patterns for these new uniforms.