FN Herstal

Me and My Good Ideas – Ha!

I think I was leaning a little too far forward in the foxhole and had a little too much time on my hands. Remember, it was 1994 when I wrote this so some of the terminology may seem dated. Funny how 18 years later we are almost there with two separate uniforms.

To: Editor

INFANTRY Magazine

Ft Benning, GA 31995-2005

19 November, 1994

Dear Editor,

I am presently serving in Haiti and feel the Battle Dress Uniform(BDU) is seriously lacking as a field uniform. In fact, during my eight years in the Army I have found the BDU woefully inadequate as both a garrison and combat uniform. Because it is a compromise between these two roles it does neither well. It’s hot, doesn’t stand up to pressing well, doesn’t provide adequate protection from the environment, isn’t compatible with other Clothing and Individual Equipment(CIE) items, as well as a myriad of other problems too numerous to mention here. What’s needed are two separate uniforms. First, a Garrison Dress Uniform(GDU) and second, a Generation II BDU.

The GDU is intended to be worn as a day-to-day uniform in classrooms and offices, while performing details, and during local tactical training such as land navigation. It’s manufactured from a comfortable, durable fabric that can be pressed for daily wear. The GDU’s jacket has two chest pockets and is cut bush style to allow the bottom of the jacket to be worn in or out of the trousers depending on the weather. Tucking the jacket in will show off the belt and provide an incentive to maintain a trim military appearance. The jacket’s long sleeves feature an upper arm pocket for pens and other items. The GDU trousers retain the present design of the BDU trouser while eliminating the leg ties and bug flap. Because the GDU is designed as a garrison uniform, the double elbows, seat, and knees found on the BDU are eliminated. The IR treatment is also not necessary. The simplification of construction allows the GDU to be issued as part of the Soldier’s clothing bag at a great savings. Since it’s designed to be pressed the GDU has a longer service life than the BDU.

The GEN II BDU is configured for wear on the battlefield and issued at the unit as TA-50 to be worn only in a field environment. It will last thirty days under combat conditions. The GEN II BDU must be abrasion resistant, fire retardant, wind proof, hydrophobic (water hating), permeable to allow sweat vapor to escape, treated to retard the growth of odor causing bacteria, and incorporate anti-IR coating. Unlike the present BDU, it’s compatible with insulating underlayers as well as outer layers such as ECWCS. The material features a reversible camouflage pattern so that one uniform is functional in several theaters. Twice in the last four years American Soldiers have deployed to the middle east wearing woodland BDUs which provided no camouflage in that region. Had their uniforms been reversible they would have arrived better prepared to fight. The GEN II BDU jacket is designed to interface with other CIE items. In lieu of the front opening found on the current BDU, the GEN II BDU has covered slide fasteners that begin at the bottom hem and go up under the arm to form pit zips for ventilation. The side zips will interface with the ECWCS parka as well as Ranger Body Armor (RBA). The jacket’s two chest pockets are accessible while in the prone. A lack of lower pockets enables the jacket to be tucked in for rappelling or parachuting. The jacket has waterproof/breathable elbow panels which serve as pockets for removable padding to be used for FIBUA, parachuting, or long periods in the prone. Each sleeve has a forward slanting pocket capable of holding one 30 rd M-16 magazine. These will be the only pockets readily accessible while wearing armor. The jacket’s standup collar incorporates a hide away hood which will protect the wearer’s head and neck from the elements as well as flashburns.

The trousers resemble the present field pants with several modifications. The are no rear pockets and the seat features a waterproof/breathable panel. Waterproof/Breathable panels are also found on the knees which accept removable padding. Trouser legs feature covered overboot zippers presently found on the CPOG to facilitate rapid donning and doffing. The legs will also interface with a waterproof/breathable gaiter to keep water from entering the tops of boots.

Adoption of these two uniforms gives the Soldier an inexpensive uniform for garrison wear which projects a positive military image and a combat uniform optimized for wear on the modern battlefield. The cost savings will be felt immediately as only those Soldiers who need combat uniforms for their duties will receive them. The garrison uniform will be less expensive to manufacture than the current BDU as well as better suited to pressing which will give it a longer service life.

16 Responses to “Me and My Good Ideas – Ha!”

  1. Aaron says:

    Can we please have the Marine Corps chest pockets?

  2. Sgt A says:

    It’s really sad that a logical and convincing vision like this couldn’t actually be seen for what it was then or to a degree now – at this point no argument that exists could be made that implementing this would have been a poor idea. If anything, it would have represented a significant cost savings instead of the circuitous and often misguided path the Army has been following and thus far only realized poor spinoff and nonsensical product development and been forced to adopt COTS items that meet this exact description as a result of pressure from SOCOM and USMC units having simply better equipment.

  3. Derek says:

    And they did test a reversible BDU in the late 90’s didn’t they?

  4. Buckaroomedic says:

    I remember reading this years ago. Thought it made a lot of sense back then and it makes even more sense now.

    The two uniform concept is really the way to go with a Garrison and a Field/Combat uniform. Make the Garrison in a “classic” Army color, such as tan or OD that can be pressed and with polishable boots. It’s time to start looking like an army again. I am appalled at how badly some of our soldiers look these days. Their uniforms are unserviceable, their boots literally look like shit and over half of the uniforms don’t even fit the SM correctly. Don’t even get me started on the overweight issues I’m seeing on a daily basis. Is this what 10 years of combat has done to the Army?

    Make the combat version in whatever current gee-wiz, camo pattern Natick can come up with. Keep the combat shirt and pants. Personally, I think the current “combat” shirt and pants are perfect for actual field and/or combat use. Train as you fight. Probably one of the best “ideas” the Army has had in the past 10 years.

    • Riceball says:

      I personally feel that a garrison uniform is waste of money and space. The last thing military personnel need is a separate set of uniforms to pay and care for and you want to add another set of boots on top of that too? The military is not a fashion show and if you want the troops to look nice in garrison then have the uniform of the day be some variation of service dress for those days when nothing is happening and you won’t be getting dirty, then the troops look all pretty and military like. The other problem I have with a garrison uniform is what some brass sitting in air conditioned office will consider places like FOBs in a combat zone garrison and troops will be required to pack their garrison uniforms when going off to war all so that they can look pretty when inside the wire.

  5. Tim says:

    Hey…I was in haiti at the same time

  6. Strike-Hold! says:

    LOL – the prophet is always doomed to be ignored in his own land…

    Your post about the Army soliciting input for an individual water purifier reminded me of a similar story from back when I was in the 82nd in the mid-80’s. A good buddy of mine sent a detailed proposal for exactly that type of thing to the powers-that-be under a “input from the troops” scheme that ran back then. He’d even gone to the trouble of buying such a piece of kit from REI and field testing it when we went through Jungle School in Panama – so it wasn’t just some random brainwave, he was able to report on the units performance too.

    His suggestion was ignored of course. But meanwhile, some REMF won some award and got loads of publicity for the suggestion that BDU sleeves should be rolled up in such a way that the camouflage side showed, and could be unrolled by simply pulling down on the cuff.

  7. CJ says:

    I think it would be absolutely awesome if the Air Force went back to the pickle suit for garrison wear. Short sleeves, long sleeves, tuck it in, leave it out, and bring back the iron and shined boots.

    • SSD says:

      I don’t know many maintenance troops who shined their boots but it was a good uniform for the average guy in the Air Force.

  8. jiminyt says:

    Too bad they didn’t listen.

  9. EM2(SS) says:

    It makes sense, it would help the warfighter and would help save money. No wonder the Army ignored it.

  10. Dann says:

    Funny how some of the idears over in america have be tried over seas. I live in Denmark, we have a garrison uniform and are going away from it, because we have fund that it cost to much in stores space and many people just have it laying in there addict.
    Our system functions a little different then the american system, we get everything fielded and just get new issued when the old i broken. But still we have fund out that a garrison uniform is just to costly.
    Also the new way the USMC i going with they’re new light support weapon… oh sorry I mean IAR. We’ve been there, done it and fund it lacking, and went back to our old mg/42 model GPMG.

    Funny how we can’t learn from one another. Denmark could learn a lot from america about MRAPs and open LI/LL reports.

  11. Matt D says:

    I think the Army should swallow their pride and adopt the Marine Corps cut uniform and make it in multicam. There should be button up front (no more of this stupid plastic zipper and velcro that lasts 15 minutes), buttons on ALL the pockets, bungie corded cargo pockets- but with buttons like the new ACU pants… bungie cord at the bottom of the pants to make it easier to keep boots stay bloused even in combat situations (there’s more to blousing boots than looking cool- they keep bugs/dirt out keep the bottom of your pants from getting caught/ripped on things etc). The only velcro should be on the shoulder parts of the sleeves so that soldiers can easily put IR flags and garrison unit patches and whatnot on their uniforms per unit SOP. Everything else- name rank etc should be sewn on. There should be absolutely no velcro on the front of the ACU. Whoever designed it to be the way it is now obviously has never had to low crawl. Even if you sterilize your uniform the velcro tabs just get ruined with mud and stuff. Horrible design.
    For the most part the system we have now regarding garrison vs combat uniform seems to be ok, with the ACU jacket top being optional in combat- you can switch it out with one of those combat shirts. In field environments the combat shirt or the regular jacket top should be allowed, but in garrison only the regular top should be allowed.
    I also think that the boots we are getting are pretty horrendous- you think you’re getting a better boot if it’s got all this extra padding and gore-tex and stuff… in my opinion the less material the better. It’s lighter, dries faster and when you break them in they form to your foot like gloves. They’re uncomfortable to begin with but that’s how Army boots have always been. I wear Altama desert boots with panama soles every day, all day. I’ll never wear another boot (except in really cold conditions I GUESS… but I’ll double up on socks before I make the switch). I have 2 pairs that I switch out so they don’t get too smelly/break down quickly. They should really make a more durable boot though, one pair of my altama’s sole is starting to separate. I think they should go back to the old says when they were reinforced with needle and thread and maybe even a few tacks. Boots should be made with full grain leather and cordura nylon. No more of these synthetic running shoe boots that are made in China… show some pride for your country and buy American Boots.
    I hate the mentality these days that everything has an expiration date. The Army would save itself a lot of money if it didn’t have to make a billion uniform items for each soldier. Pants should not have a 6 month lifespan, that’s ridiculous. I’ve had the same pair of carhartts that I wear almost every day (I know it’s kinda gross… whatever) for over a year and they still look like new. If we got maybe 3 pairs of good quality Pants they should last us over a year, at least in garrison. I can’t believe the Army ever issued cargo pockets with velcro closures… I jumped on a one rope bridge with half an MRE, a notebook and a flashlight in my pocket an I had a yard-sale. What are soldiers supposed to do in a combat environment if they have to one rope bridge something? stop everything and pack their stuff that was in their pockets (maybe a grenade, empty (or full) magazines ect) in their ruck? I had cargo pants from old navy when I was twelve that were better designed. Also regarding blousing boots- that’s has been and always will be a good idea. However in combat boots come unbloused too easily. I think a bungie cord instead of the nylon string at the bottom of our pants would be a good idea (kinda like how the IPFU long pants are elastic at the bottom). Combat environments are where blousing boots is important. the last thing you want in combat is fire ants or scorpions and whatnot climbing up your leg. It would also keep soldiers a little bit cleaner, no dust/dirt would be able to circulate up on your calf’s. Bungie cord could be tucked into boots the same way, but if they came untucked they would still be somewhat functional and you wouldn’t have to worry about them so much. I’ve seen velcro closures on aftermarket pants but I think that’s a more expensive and bulkier option. It also won’t last as long because velcro sucks and wears out pretty quick.
    They army has to stop allowing people who have never been in combat to design our uniforms. Uniforms should be designed BY soldiers FOR soldiers. COMBAT soldiers. If something isn’t working it should be fixed. I hat velcro and I wouldn’t be upset if I never saw it again. It just screams “I WAS MADE IN CHINA FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO TIE SHOES.”

    Anyway, that’s what I would do If I was in charge.

  12. Matt D says:

    nah I really don’t like the zipper, it just makes the uniform feel cheap. I like the way ACUs fit but I like the way BDUs were put together. The Marine’s uniform combines the best of both, if we put that in Multicam that would be perfect in my opinion.