WASHINGTON – Navy Secretary Ray Mabus would like to see the number of different camouflage uniforms in the military come down.
“The notion that we have all this camouflage doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” he told the Defense Writers Group June 13.
He said the “blueberries” -- which is what sailors call their blue cammies -- work only when sailors fall overboard. The secretary said he would support an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill for fiscal year 2014 that would mandate a single camouflage uniform for all the services.
At one time that was the case. In the late 1980s, all services wore the battle-dress uniform -- a green, brown and black uniform that grew out of Army research, said Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk, an Army spokesman. For the Gulf War, the Army also developed the “chocolate chip” uniforms worn in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
The Marines broke away from the “uniform” uniform when they went with their digital cammies in 2002. Not to be outdone, the Army also went digital with the Army combat uniform, using the universal combat pattern. The Air Force followed, and then the Navy went digital with its blueberries.
In all, there are 18 different camouflage uniforms, including one issued to servicemembers deploying to Afghanistan.
There probably won’t be just one camouflage uniform for all situations, Mabus acknowledged. “But we can go to two or three,” he added. “It’s still progress.”
A proposed amendment to the fiscal 2014 defense budget bill before Congress would require the services to adopt one camouflage pattern, with a wear date of 2018.