Dear General Odierno and SMA Chandler:
I am led to believe, according to an article in this weeks Army Times there is consideration of making changes to the Army Service Uniform.
Over the last twenty years the Army has shown it is inept in buying uniforms as it is in procuring equipment—I am sure there is a correlation, other than Natick could fuck up a wet dream in a whore house.
Let me briefly review:
a. The famous Army PT Uniform who was either designed for midgets or for the idealized version of a soldier. Dark, hard to see, it has been universally panned since its introduction.
b. The Army Combat Uniform in universal camouflage pattern, with lots of Velcro and a Mandarin Collar. When first introduced in Iraq a young Specialist was heard to remark; “They send me to Iraq for a year, tell me I can’t have sex, and now they give me a uniform when you have the collar up makes you look like a fucking priest.”
(1) Of course the Army found out the universal camouflage pattern wasn’t or at least the troops said so in Afghanistan. Which led to the late Congressman John Murtha to introduce legislation which required the Army to buy multi-cam for troops in Afghanistan.
(2) The Velcro has been very popular with the troops—not; and even less popular with the Seamstress Mafia found outside every US military based in the world.
(3) And the purpose of the Mandarin Collar?
(4) Let’s not forget the pants whose crotches rip out too easily; or the stupid edicts by some Senior Officers and Non-Commissioned officers that the cargo pockets could not be used.
(5) The one thing you got right was the brown rough side out combat boots, but it is only a matter of time before we decide we need black boots that are highly spits shined to be professional.
c. Let’s us not forget the Beret. While I happen to like the Beret; I do not like the way the US Army (except the Special Forces) wear the Beret. We have become addicted to shaping the Beret a la Airborne which results in some interesting shape. I of course ditched the US Beret after a Brit gave me one of theirs, made by the Small Crown Beret Company; that did not excessive material and was easy to put on one’s head and wear (one handed I might add).
d. The baby shit green shirt with the Old Army Green Uniform. Of course to come up with this abortion they got rid of the TW’s aka Khakis which was one of the best uniforms the Army ever had.
e. The Black, non belted over/rain coat. This was so seventies that it luckily was replaced by the Black Over/Rain Trench Coat, while not bad is still not as good as the Trench Style Rain Coat and Heavy Wool Trench Style Green Overcoat I had when I came in the Army.
f. Army Service Uniform. Uniforms ought to be simple and utilitarian; they should not look like Boy Scouts in heat. When the decision was made to go back to the Blues as the official uniform I thought it was a step in the right direction, although I would have preferred them adding a belted waist. But it didn’t take long for the GI to start bitching and complaining and pretty soon the CSM mafia convinced the CSA to ditch the gray shirt and replace it with a white shirt. Then it was decided that everyone had to have a former combat unit identifier and to wear all their tabs. Rather than sew all this stuff on we came up with badges, and so now we look like either the Boy Scouts or a Doorman at the Holiday Hotel.
(1) The Army Blues and Army Service Uniform have always been one of the best looking uniforms. It was simple, plain, and most importantly uniformed. Over time we have added more and more stuff to it, but it still looks pretty good.
(2) Patches are a recent development in the culture of the Army. Combat patches were not recognized until World War II although individuals had worn them in World War I—they did so despite not being authorized.
(3) Combat Action Badge is a new and not needed piece of uniform kit. George Marshall created two Combat Badges in World War II; the Combat Infantry Badge to recognize the dog faced soldier who did the heavy lifting; and the Combat Medic Badge which recognized the Angles of the Battlefield. I wish we would go back to the simplistic days of the past. . .we won’t the genie is out of the bottle. Rather we are like the Little League Baseball Teams where every team, regardless of whether they are winners has to get a trophy. I guess we are going to ride the small yellow bus soon!
(4) There was actually a proposal to add epaulets so people could wear their leadership tabs. Luckily this went no where yet.
(5) The survey that the Army leadership shows a couple of changes:
(a) Replacing the White Shirt with either a Blue (no too much like the USAF), a Gray (tried that once the CSM fashion police said no), Brown (no too much like the Brown Shirts of the SA), or Khaki (other than white probably the best choice.)
(b) Replacing the Gold Stripe with a Black stripe like was on the old greens. (Probably a Bad Idea).
(c) Adding Patches for both present and combat service; or adding a present unit of assignment badge. (Again I think bad ideas.)
The Army has not had much luck in redesigning its uniforms in the last twenty years; nor has it had much luck in fielding new equipment. There are a lot of reasons for this some of which is called the Acquisition Corps.
A couple of years ago a friend suggested that if the Army really wanted to redesign its uniform they would get Ralph Lauren to do so. My guess if this had happened we would have some version of the Pinks and Greens. But the Army didn’t and we are where we are.
First of all I am a retiree, as such I won’t wear a uniform again until I am buried. Like all retiree I have an opinion, and like assholes most opinions stink.
Having said all of this let me offer you some advice. Don’t change the Army Service Uniform—you may want to rename it—leave it alone. If you change it there is a cost—amongst the American public who will probably think you fickle, Congress will wonder why you are spending money stupidly and you will still have soldiers bitching.
Some how we have forgotten the little lessons of frugality, telling people to STFU, and remembering we work for the American public. Anything you do is going to look wrong, stick with the ASU and when the money flows like wine again then go in for a new uniform; until such time, bide your time.