News flash folks The Army has decided to review the suitability and utility of the new ACU camouflage pattern for the fighting in Afghanistan (This is old news to the folk in the SF community They were granted an exemption a year ago to wear the old BDUs in place of the ACU in select theaters) and now theyre going to outfit two battalions with new camouflage uniforms. But theres nothing in the report that mentions correcting any of the more egregious faults with the construction of the ACU uniform itself.
While I was mulling over this tidbit, I came across an interesting photograph. It was a picture of some British soldiers returning from a patrol in Afghanistan. What caught my eye was the number of uniform violations I saw. Folks with their sleeves rolled up, some not wearing helmets, some with trousers bloused, some not, and the greatest infraction of them all, mixed uniforms!! Can you believe it!! There were soldiers, exposed to public scrutiny and ridicule, appearing in uniform items of different colors!!
Wow... The irony of it all though is, I know there are folk out there saying exactly that, and I think this is where the Army is really going to miss the boat on this whole uniform redesign thing; the issue isnt so much what color we make the uniform (though that is important), but just what exactly makes a combat uniform in the first place, and exactly how important uniformity (i.e. our fixation on wear and appearance) is in combat.
Firstly, let me say that I realize and fully endorse the idea that we need uniforms. Besides helping to tell friend from foe, the Geneva Convention also requires it. Secondly, I think Rumsfeld was right in that you fight with the army (or in this case the uniform) you have, not the one you want. Thirdly, with that having been said, I think the Army needs to practice what it preaches regarding unit esprit de corps and readiness a unit with high esprit de corps, cohesion, and morale will modify and personalize its equipment to meet individual and mission needs, which means taking the uniform you have and making it get the job done.
Why did those British soldiers look the way they did? Because someone in their food chain used their brain and made some tactical decisions regarding uniformity and mission accomplishment. The British dont have a one color works nowhere uniform like we do; they have a green one and a tan one. The problem is, they dont operate in an area thats uniformly green or tan, so in order to bust up their signature they mix the tops and bottoms. Im sure the decision to allow that was made at either the company or battalion (i.e. local) level, whereas for us (in the U.S. Army) such decisions are usually reserved for TRADOC.
Read the rest of this critique at KitUp!
-- Eric Daniel