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Congress Loves Camo – Maybe A Little Too Much?

As we understand it, Retired Major General (IL ARNG) and Rep William Enyart’s (D- IL) amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act was introduced to the full House Armed Services Committee and passed 32-30. If enacted it will…

require all military services to use a joint combat camouflage uniform, including color and pattern variants designed for specific combat environments.

First off, for those of you unfamiliar with the legislative process, this is just the first hurdle and it’s still quite a way from becoming law. It’s not as bad as I had feared but I’m concerned it still ham strings the individual services. Below is a simplified version of what has to happen.

In order to become the law of the land, it must first pass a vote in the full House of Representatives. Then, the Senate will vote on their version of the NDAA which may or may not include similar language. Either way, the two versions of the NDAA will most assuredly contain differences which will have to be hammered out in Conference Committee made up of members of both chambers of Congress. Once those differences are worked out, a conference report detailing what is in the final legislation is voted on by both the Senate and House of Representatives. After approval, it goes to the President to be signed. Barring a veto it becomes law. At any point in this process expect the services to weigh in.

This is by no means a quick process. The NDAA will become law some time after the Army’s June 14th announcement.

I find this language shortsighted. Service leaders need the latitude to accomplish their mission and at some point, that may require different uniforms. Despite assertions to the contrary, prior to the adoption of the MARPAT MCCUU in 2003, the services did not all wear the same uniform. For example, the Navy wore a work uniform that was not camouflaged and was unlike anything the other services used. But, It was the right uniform for their mission.

And lastly, while the services should work together, Congress telling them that they have to use the same individual equipment to accomplish their missions sets a bad precedent. In the past we have seen Congress force unwanted combat systems on the various services that place undue burdens on force structure and readiness. The services are the experts at defending the Nation and they should decide what tools are required to make that happen.

28 Responses to “Congress Loves Camo – Maybe A Little Too Much?”

  1. Aaron says:

    Before we even get to a common pattern can we get a common and comfortable cut, how about a longer and wider brim on my patrol cap?

    The quality of the MCCUU is a lot better, the cut of the blouse makes sense, and the trousers are deeper, it doesn’t stain near as much (the grime comes out) and doesn’t tear apart near as easy.

    • Steven S says:

      Instead of a patrol cap, go with something more practical and protective such as a wide brimmed boonie hat. I guess I am thinking to radical.

  2. Scubasteve says:

    Even though it’s a headache we don’t need right now, would a military-wide camo uniform necessarily be a bad thing? In Garrison, each service can wear their respective and unique A or B uniform, and the transitional pattern utilities when needed for the Motor pool, Field, EIB, EFMB, NBC training, etc…
    After following the Army camo improvement, it sounds like the best overall option will be chosen, and there’s no real reason to keep it Army specific that I see. But that can come much later in the future, after we figure out more important things.

  3. Walter says:

    Hi,
    I dont see the fuzz? As far as I see the reqquest is for a similar “ground COMBAT uniform”.
    And for this purpose, the cut and patterns work for all branches.
    No word, that others need to wear it too.
    But theres no Need, to have Army Rangers, Seals, Marines and PJs wear (and buy) different kits.

  4. Sgt B says:

    In my humble opinion… I understand the idea of a universal camo for all services, but it will be a headache hammering out the specifics of how each service will maintain that uniform. In my experience, we’ve (the collective military) have already been doing this in AFG with MultiCam. Before they transitioned, a lot of Navy were wearing the ACU (even some AF were doing the same) and then orders came down to wear the MultiCam, which nearly every service minus the USMC is wearing. While having a distinctive uniform for each service is nice, if the uniform isn’t combat ready then why waste the funds to purchase it? Like the Army, the Air Force designed the ABU which was intended to be a war fighting uniform which could be worn at home station and in the AOR, and we’ve seen how well that has worked out. The Marines are the only ones who actually thought about it and have worn the uniform home and abroad and have had success. If this comes to fruition, I would hope that there is enough thought put in to it where the uniform is completely functional and transitional.

  5. Thor H. says:

    Also, the way that I read the bill, individual branches can design work specific uniforms (like the old navy working uni) its just that the design has to be usable by the rest of the forces. No hiding mini EGAs or saying your pattern is proprietary.

  6. Tahoe says:

    Camo is the key item I see (haha) in this. The fact that we in the last decade and a half we’ve seen two camo patterns (woodland and 3CD) change to at least nine – UCP, MARPAT (arid and temperate), ABU, two different Navy patterns, AOR1&2, Multicam, and probably one or two I missed, is ridiculous.

    The issue isn’t that everyone in the service needs to be in the exact same cut and color uniform–it’s that every service doesn’t need its own camo pattern (or two). There’s no reason why an Army grunt needs a different cut combat uniform than a Marine does (or a TACP, Corpsman, PJ, Seabee, etc.)

  7. Strike-Hold says:

    Back in my time the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all wore a common camouflaged ground fatigue / field / combat uniform – the BDU (and later the DCU). Where they differed was only in terms of insignia and the way we rolled our sleeves – the Marines stencilled their EGA logo on the left breast pocket of the jacket (and I believe the Navy also stencilled their logo on the pocket as well), the Air Force used blue thread for their name and branch tapes and rank insignia, and the Air Force, Navy and Marines rolled their sleeves up the normal way while the Army mandated a special camo-side out method of rolling the sleeves.

    What would be so wrong about going back to that? This devisive nonsense of every Service having its own unique camouflage pattern and uniform design is the kind of thing that happens in 3rd World dictatorships.

    Yes, its unfortunate that Congress has stuck its nose into the Service’s business at this level of detail, and that this type of micro-management is generally not a good thing at all – but, frankly, the Service Chiefs have brought this on themselves and its time they checked their head-space and timing and re-focussed on serving their country more than their parade ground egos.

  8. Jon says:

    Sounds like the Whiz Kids and Macnamara again….Everyone use the same shoes and rifles and camo.

  9. badjujuu says:

    Jeez, we are still fighting the switch from Class A to ASU. Between issued ACU, OCP and personally bought coyote tan/brown gear in Soldiers kits there is plenty of camo to go around. At this point the last thing that any of us need is politicians telling us whats best for us

  10. Case says:

    I actually don’t think this would be a bad thing, provided that they utilize the winner of the camo improvement effort, and certain parts of the navy still use a noncamo uniform, my cousin is a DC and he generally uses this while hes working, I doubt this would be affected

    • SPC. KLEMAN says:

      It would take a significant act of the Lord almighty to make the Navy not have so many damn uniforms, Case. Congress can bark all they want, but I doubt that’s going to happen.

      And as far as the end result, it’s really not a bad thing. SSD agrees to that point. The issue at hand is that congress is making an ill-advised attempt to mandate the branches do something(that they need to be doing anyway, honestly) that congress themselves have little understanding of. That’s my prerogative, anyway.

      • Case says:

        Agreed. But I think that sometimes we have to remember that a good thing done for stupid reasons is still a good thing

  11. badjujuu says:

    The Soldier magazine we just got in features a Service Member decked out in MultiCam uniform….hint?>

  12. Case says:

    Agreed. But I think that sometimes we have to remember that a good thing done for stupid reasons is still a good thing

  13. majrod says:

    The legislation doesn’t restrict a branch from developing equipment. It restricts it from a branch saying its the only one that can use it.

    The old Navy uniform is a great example. Great uniform for the Navy mission. The Navy didn’t tell other services it couldn’t use it. If the Army thought it would provide soldiers operating watercraft an advantage the Army could adopt the uniform.

    That makes perfect sense. The best tool for the job.

    • SSD says:

      Then you’ve come to the heart of the matter. This is a hand slap to the Marine Corps.

  14. Vince says:

    I’m sure these politicians also believe in combining all the armed services and creating an armed force. It’s that type of thinking that created the diperity amongst the services. The harder they try to bring them together, the harder the services will try to differntiate themselves. As a Marine, a sense of pride tells me that the Marine Corps will tell congress to pound sand and just as that whole female in combat MOS’s and “alternate lifestyles” in the military have worked out. How’s them apples? I honestly think this will not come to fruition and the services will continue to utilize different patterns.

    • SSD says:

      I think you’d be surprised at how parochial Congress can be when it comes to keeping the separate services.

      • Vince says:

        That was gladly, btw. Even though it doesn’t always seem to be good, this country was founded on tradition and the services abide by that more then most. There will be a fight for sure and in many cases I understand money talks, but hten again, so does negative publicity. it’s a two edged sword and we all walk it finely. My point is, let the services have their differences, good or bad. in the end, what matters most is that there are organizations out there that whose sole purpose is to win wars and protect the interests of the country abroad. This does not include politicians reputations or careers. “Leave the fightin’ for the grown men.”

        • majrod says:

          Just to bring this back to the subject. Branch specific camo patterns is a ten year old “tradition”. That hardly qualifies as a tradition except to those that know no different.

  15. Mick says:

    I think this is OK. Congress tells the millitary how many ships, planes, etc., to buy, then says “tell us what you need in these ships.” Why not tell them “pick one uniform, and figure it out”?
    Should work out for the Army, too; they’ll say “Too easy, here’s the latest, most comprehensive research that says our pick is best; all other branches can fall in on it, too.”

    • SSD says:

      The services tell the Congress how many they need. Congress funds or doesn’t fund the Service’s request.

      And btw, the Army is more than willing to do that. They aren’t the issue here.

      • SteveB says:

        IMHO, they all need to take the advice of Connor MacLoed, born in 1518 in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel … that ‘There can be only one!’

        I may be wrong, but I may be right……..

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