The Marine Corps was the first in the game to recognize the advantages of fire resistant uniforms for its front-line grunts. Back in 2005 and 2006, Marine field commanders began issuing their grunts in Iraq flight suits to help them survive the flash burns of a roadside bomb. That gave way to the Fire Resistant Organizational Gear initiative, which developed specific uniform items for the grunt that went beyond the 70 percent solution of the (expensive) Nomex flight suit.
Building on that theme, the Marine Corps is set to field a new Inclement Weather Combat Shirt that helps leathernecks keep warm in cooler fighting seasons. According to Marine Corps Systems Command, the IWCS:
...is a pullover shirt that provides protection from flame threats (FR protection) as well as protection from cold and wet weather, from wind and water. Produced in Desert MARPAT, the IWCS provides flame resistance, water resistance, wind resistance, has breathability and is compatible with all other currently fielded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It is designed to be worn over the Combat Shirt and under the currently fielded Marine Corps body armor systems.
While not providing specifics on the materials, from the photo they sent me and the description of the shirt, it looks like the sleeves at least are made of a softshell material that resists moisture and wind, but isn't wind proof or waterproof. This is a perfect mix for high aerobic pursuits like, say, combat...
What's interesting is this also seems to edge out the utility of the Combat Desert Jacket the Corps developed with some difficulty back in '06 (the original manufacturer got the colors wrong). For the fighting Devil Dog, the IWCS will likely be the go-to gear since it fits beneith the tactical vest or plate carrier. A very cool (warm) idea for the Corps as it sets up for the hard press in Afghanistan.
According to SysCom, the $172 jak-shirt will hit the streets within the next few months (3Q FY2010) and "we will be ensuring that sufficient quantities will be available for next winter for all Marines deploying to CENTCOM (end 2010/early 2011)," SysCom said.