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Congress Shouldn’t Make Rules Regarding Camouflage

I’ve been mulling this over all day. I don’t think it’s a good idea for Congress to tell the military services which camouflage they should be using or how they should equip their troops.

First off, they’ve got more important things to worry about. That’s a given.

Second, they have their lane in the road and the military services have theirs. Even retired two-star General turned Congressman William Enyart, (D-IL) doesn’t seem to have the bubble on camouflage. If a guy with that kind of pedigree doesn’t understand the issues at hand, how can we expect someone to who has never served? Representative Enyart has stated that he plans to introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require all services to adopt the same camouflage pattern by 2018 and would ban the services from developing new camouflage patterns for their own use.

While I’m all for the separate branches of the US military adopting the same camouflage patterns for a variety of reasons, doing it because Congress said so is not even on the list. Aside from the operational and logistical advantages of a common uniform, this budget environment alone should be the precursor to a more common sense approach to field uniforms. Dress uniforms Remain a great way for the services to express their individuality. I’m advocating for the military to do the right thing for the right reasons.

As for a moratorium on camouflage development, I strongly disagree with this idea. Based on the poorly written legislation I see coming out of Washington, such a move will assuredly have negative second and third order effects. For example, what about USSOCOM? While it isn’t a service, it has service-like budget authority and regularly has unique requirements. It uses its budgetary and acquisition authority to fulfill those requirements under MFP-11. Would a poorly written law preclude SOCOM from the fulfillment of unique camouflage requirements that are not shared by conventional forces? Based on Congress’s batting average, my guess is “yes.”

Congress needs to put the services in the hot seat for sure and make them explain why they can’t play nice together but telling them how they should equip individual service members oversteps their mandate.

34 Responses to “Congress Shouldn’t Make Rules Regarding Camouflage”

  1. bulldog76 says:

    hey congress what he is trying to say nicely is KEEP THE HELL OUT OF THE CAMO DEBATE !!!

  2. majrod says:

    DoD isn’t doing it and let it get as bad as it is (eight patterns) over a decade. If you want to be in charge, be in charge.

    No one is saying branches can’t develop camo. What is being said is it can’t bogart the pattern. That’s reasonable. For 60 years no branch thought of telling another branch no you can’t use this pattern. When brothers act in their own interest to siblings detriment the parents have to lay the hammer down.

    Congress IS a soup sandwich but sometimes they make the military do things it doesn’t want but needs none the less. Look at the A10 or the C27J Spartan that was supposed to be an Army plane for intratheatre lift. Congress funded it for the Army. DoD gave it to the Air Force with the promise the Air Force would fly it for the Army. The Air Force is now mothballing brand new C27J putting the burden back on the Army for high demand intratheatre lift that will be executed at five times the cost by CH47s or contractor lift. Why? Because DoD wouldn’t address silly branch partisanship.

  3. MannyF says:

    Maybe doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still acceptable?

  4. Thor H. says:

    The problem is that the individual branches will not get along unless someone makes them. So maybe congressional intervention is needed.

  5. Valhalla says:

    Like it or not, Congress is free to have a say in the matter because tax payer money is being squandered. DoD had their chance, and they screwed the pooch. So you can complain about Congress getting involved, but remember to thank DoD for that.

  6. Strike-Hold says:

    Congress telling the individual services to stop playing prima donna and share their toys because there are good and valid reasons to do so is good.

    A poorly / hastily written, knee-jerk reaction, piece of legislation that “bans” services from doing the things they need to in order to achieve their needs is bad.

    God knows we’ve seen more than enough hastily and/or poorly written legislation coming out of DC lately….

  7. Jesse says:

    The key red flag was the acknowledgement that he just got wind of these “shenanigans” from the recent Washington Post article. If that is all the research that was put into the amendment then there is major cause for concern, especially given his personal history with the Army/Air Force. Of course if the DOD can’t put things together, then a little guidance is probably helpful. The media onslaught can be partially blamed for knee jerk reactions and ill informed legislation from Congress.

  8. Sean says:

    Gonna have to agree with majrod on this one. The fact of the matter is the services have had a decade to get there stuff in one sock and we have ten Verizon’s of cap and only five I would even consider effective. (Marpat both patterns, multicam and AOR 1 &2) I agree with what Eric said that congress really doesn’t understand what they are doing but if two wars have made the services see common sense then what is going to make them see the light?

  9. straps says:

    This guy was a JAG. Outside advising on the requirement that a nation’s military be identifiable as battlefield combatants, he has minimal expertise–or standing–on this issue.

    I’ve trained JAG detachments that had ZERO equipment for function outside hard-sided buildings, ZERO vehicles for function off paved roads and ZERO organic weapons. I know that Navy JAGs are SEAL fighter jocks (saw it on TV, must be true). ARNG JAGs usually aren’t.

    JAGs fulfill a mission critical requirement in the force, but signature management isn’t one of them.

    Hopefully this guy is willing to hear testimony from senior service members charged with:
    (a) recruiting the force,
    (b) actually closing with and killing enemy,
    (c) outfitting the force for the job
    (d) GEN Amos, who will be directed to weigh the comparative advantages of [1] clothing and equipping his Marines in a pattern to be announced by the Army on 14 June, [2] clothing and equipping his Marines in a sanitized AOR/NWU, [3] clothing and equipping his Marines in that Air Force pattern or (4) sanitizing MARPAT for adoption throughout the force.

    His interaction with GEN Amos will likely provide some well-needed interaction with a REAL General.

    • majrod says:

      Sanitizing MARPAT is a bit late. According to testing, AOR seems more effective and there’s a case to be made that the next Army patterns will be the most tested in history. If we are going to one pattern it makes sense to go to AOR or what the Army selects if its more effective.

      Just like we did for the last 60 of 70 years…

    • straps says:

      Fully agreed 100% on your thoughts on the new Army family, your thoughts on AOR and your thoughts on MARPAT. Nothing to say about Air Force Tygah Stripe?

      I just want to see it explained to GEN Amos. And I want to see GEN Amos explain it to his guys (and gals).

      Could totally happen.

  10. Sal Palma says:

    I’m fairly certain that USSOCOM won’t have MFP-11 issues funding any requirement. They’ve pretty well been blessed by the GAO for their procurement strategies. Case in point the C130 enhanced electronics package.
    The big services are bleeding cash all over creation, on a number of initiatives, with no end in sight, which is probably the reason why Congress has its hands in it. I agree that Congress should not be in the camouflage development business but somebody needs to get these services refocused.

    • SSD says:

      A law is a law. Unless they make an exception to that law. You have to remember that Congress doesn’t enforce the law, the Executive branch does. That means bean counters in the Pentagon who may or may not have a hard on for SOCOM and their special funding.

      • majrod says:

        SSD – you’re a bright guy. What don’t you get about, “ban the services from developing new camouflage patterns for their OWN use”? (emphasis added)

        SOCOM could still develop region/mission specific camo. They just couldn’t make it exclusive to SOCOM IF a the military as a whole thought it was revolutionary enough to go to Congress and get the money to outfit the services.

        Making a mountain out of the thought of a mouseturd.

        • SSD says:

          Actually, I’m not. I spent the vast majority of my career in SOF with several years in the requirements and S&T business.

          SOF requirements are unique by definition meaning they are only for them.

          That proviso could stop SOF from developing a uniform in a unique camouflage pattern for use on a specific mission. Say for example, one that resembles another nations.

          • majrod says:

            Com’n, there are dozens of tools the services use today that were proven in the SOF community. Gortex, polypro, optics, laser pointers, the M4A1, multicam etc.

            SOF NEVER said, “you can’t use our kit” to a branch. The bill just makes Prima Donnaship against the law, not developing new camo.

            Shouldn’t cramp SOF’s style unless SOF says it needs a unique camo pattern to feel special. I just can’t imagine you fellas saying that. Am I wrong?

            You’re still a smart guy, that’s why I read your stuff.

          • majrod says:

            I actually have. There is some sensitive tech out there (mostly in the communication, EW, sensor areas). Unless we’re talking chameleon active camo, camo doesn’t rise to that level.

  11. TMedina says:

    The DoD has dropped the ball. Repeatedly. For various reasons, some legitimate and some not. But in the face of shrinking budgets, things are going to be cut, streamlined, and downsized. And if the DoD can’t, or won’t, address what most people think is a fairly common sense issue, someone else will.

    How much money was absolutely wasted on the infamous UCP? Does anyone believe that it actually does anything except make its wearers stand out?

    Of course, these are the same leaders who are insisting the Army keep spending money on tanks to funnel money to their districts, so the whole process is pretty hit-and-miss.

    If the DoD wants to keep Congress out of its business, it needs to handle its business quickly, quietly, and effectively.

    • straps says:

      Not much was wasted on UCP’s DEVELOPMENT. An Army tech converted MARPAT from 4 colors to 3 in Adobe Illustrator. The money spent on the testing that was ignored last time around prepared us to do it better this time.

      Most of that $5B was spent on equipment designed to last one, maybe two rotations in Afghanistan and/or Iraq. Consumables. Whatever usable UCP gear remains in usable stock after the multi-phase, multi-year implementation of the new camo (assuming it’s funded) will probably be dyed a regionally-appropriate color and gifted to a foreign army.

  12. Bill says:

    Your current post was my thoughts from your first post earlier in the day. It’s good for them (Congress) to keep the pressure on (Military Branches) for accountability (Money and Effectiveness), but camouflage in an individual need and an indirect source of pride.

    • majrod says:

      The “indirect source of pride” is a decade old phenomena that has been detrimental to the force. It created eight different camo patterns with all the waste involved.

      We have had servicemembers deployed in combat in camo patterns that weren’t as effective as other branches for years. If soldiers were identified, engaged and killed because of an “indirect source of pride” someone should be actually be called on the carpet to answer for it. Camouflage is a tool like weapons, helmets and boots. I can not understand a need for pride that trumps providing fellow servicemembers with the best tools available for the battlefield.

      Imagine the uproar if in WWII the Army copyrighted the M1 Garand replaced infantry insignia with it and denied its use to other branches? The pride and uniqueness canard has reached majestic levels of Prima Donnaship. Let’s cut the BS and stop justifying it.

  13. CAVstrong says:

    Did I miss something? Moratorium on camo development?

  14. ArmyPA says:

    Definitely agree. Leaders should tell what to do, not how to do it. Though I can’t be totally confident that they keep their meddlesome paws out of this camo mess that’s finally about to come to a close (more or less)

  15. Steven S says:

    If i remember correctly, wasn’t it a act of congress that started the Army camouflage improvement effort?

  16. Lev says:

    MARPAT is getting outdated/outperformed by USA latest initiative. I usually despise broad Joint initiatives, and SSD is spot on that congressmen should keep clear: fact remains, this new Army pattern will perform better and i for one will argue for common cammie for USforces, as much for the savings and efficiencies gained as anything else. I could give a shite about a service identity gained through unique uniform. Corps put pleats in the trousers for chrissakes! What belt-fed, high-n-tight sgtmaj yutyut thought pleats were needed? Go to common cammo for uniforms and ppe and spend the money saved on bullets and training/prep for Asia ops. Rant over, Lev out.

  17. 64 av8tor says:

    So did that just kill the upcoming camouflage program and announcement?

    • straps says:

      Unlikely to quash the announcement of the findings.

      The effect it could have on implementation is uncertain, especially if it gains traction. Uncertainty. Awesome.

      • SPC. KLEMAN says:

        To answer your question, aviator, it will certainly not. The measure has not yet been passed AFAIK, and when it does, the joint-service uniform requirement will not be mandated until 2018. In the meantime, I’m sure the Army will field the contract winner(it’s quite a nice choice they made, btw, but as per SSD’s wishes, I’m not going to disclose), get everything nice and set up seeing as how this improvement effort was probably the most single researched project on the subject in the last 70 years.

        That being said, don’t be surprised when the Army’s CIF’s winner because the standard family pattern for ALL branches. I’m fairly certain that’s a possibility.

        But yes, uncertainty. Wonderful.

  18. straightup says:

    EG. Perhaps you havent noticed but the “fix” is in. equal camo for all forces but SOF is what has the largest political capital.
    I am in favor on patterns “on demand” for critical mission ops. We have to think outside the box and manage the Soldier needs (not wants) with the modern perspective provided by the era of amazon.com and FedEx. Fast to User logistics is not so complicated.