Why Is the Marine Corps Fighting With the Navy Over a Camouflage Pattern?

Ravage

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http://www.theatlantic.com/national...th-the-navy-over-a-camouflage-pattern/267232/

camouflageban.jpg


Military combat uniforms have two purposes: to camouflage soldiers, and to hold together in rugged conditions. It stands to reason that there's only one "best" pattern, and one best stitching and manufacture. It should follow that when such a uniform is developed, the entire military should transition to it.

In 2002, the Marine Corps adopted a digital camouflage pattern called MARPAT. Rigorous field-testing proved that it was more effective than the splotched woodland pattern in use at the time, and the Combat Utility Uniform (of which it was a part) was a striking change for such a conservative institution.

Not to be outdone, the Army drew up digital plans of its own, and in 2005 issued a redesigned combat uniform in a "universal camouflage pattern" (UCP). Three years after the Marines made the change, four years after the invasion of Afghanistan, and two years after the invasion of Iraq, you might think the Army would have been loaded with data on how best to camouflage soldiers in known combat zones. You would be wrong.

In fact, not only did the Army dismiss the requirements of the operating environments, but it also literally chose the poorest performing pattern of its field tests. The "universal" in UCP refers to jungle, desert, and urban environments. In designing a uniform for wear in every environment, it designed a uniform that was effective in none.

As for durability, not long after the Army combat uniform appeared in Iraq, soldiers discovered that the uniform's crotch seams were prone to ripping open on the battlefield. Rather than fix the problem, however, the Army simply shipped more boxes of defective uniforms to supply sergeants. Stitching techniques were revisited the following year, and in 2007, uniforms already in circulation were tailored to compensate for the frustrating and distracting deficiency.

As it would turn out, MultiCam -- a pattern that the Army had originally passed over in favor of the universal pattern -- was discovered to work quite well in Afghanistan. The Army began issuing MultiCam combat uniforms to deployed soldiers, but continued (and continues to this day) peddling universal pattern combat uniforms to soldiers stateside -- a combat uniform that will never again be used in combat.

Such dysfunction is not unique to the Army. MARPAT was a success not only in function, but also in adding distinction to the Marines wearing it. Naturally the Air Force wanted in on that action, and set about to make its own mark on the camouflage world. It's first choice? A Vietnam-era blue tiger-stripe pattern. (You know, to blend in with the trees on Pandora.)

After an outcry in the ranks, the leadership settled on a color scheme slightly more subdued. The new uniform did, however, have the benefit of being "winter weight" only, which was just perfect for service in Iraq.

The Marine Corps has remained loyal to the effective MARPAT, and rightfully so. But when the Navy decided to migrate to a digital pattern three years ago, it chose a desert scheme a few shades too close to that of the Marines, and the Corps balked. The Navy has since restricted its digital desert pattern to Special Warfare units. (The Marine Corps has also warned the Army against infringing on its design.) Essentially, the branches of the U.S. military are now engaged in the same intellectual property battle as Google and Apple.

To make matters worse, the new Navy Working Uniform has been found to be highly flammable, and "will burn robustly" if exposed to fire. In fact, it turns into a "sticky molten material."
Nobody expects the military to make smart financial decisions. While the six-hundred-dollar hammer was a myth, such boondoggles as the F-35 joint strike fighter are very real. And while it is the world's best jet for fighting Transformers or supporting Iron Man, it is the worst for modern, non-computer-generated battlefields. (The Air Force isn't exactly flying a lot of sorties against the Taliban fighter jets.)

But everyone should expect and demand that the Defense Department purchase durable combat uniforms printed with the most effective camouflage pattern. Only the galactic stupidity of the Pentagon would allow inferior concealment in the name of public relations and marketing, which is what this uniform arms race amounts to. Each branch wants its members to have a distinct appearance, and there's nothing wrong with that. Such matters should, however, be confined to dress uniforms. As a matter of camouflage in hostile areas, a standard combat uniform across the branches is the only sane option.

From a financial perspective, it makes sense as well. Four combat uniforms require distinct accouterments and gear, to say nothing of manufacturing times and transportation overseas. If standards are an issue, I'll offer a baseline: a pattern that blends into the relevant operating environment; stitching that doesn't rip at the crotch; material that doesn't melt onto the skin. And the Pentagon should leave the embarrassing copyright battles to the smartphone industry. I'd like to think the United States military has more pressing things to worry about.
 

AWP

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But everyone should expect and demand that the Defense Department purchase durable combat uniforms printed with the most effective camouflage pattern. Only the galactic stupidity of the Pentagon would allow inferior concealment in the name of public relations and marketing, which is what this uniform arms race amounts to. Each branch wants its members to have a distinct appearance, and there's nothing wrong with that. Such matters should, however, be confined to dress uniforms. As a matter of camouflage in hostile areas, a standard combat uniform across the branches is the only sane option.

From a financial perspective, it makes sense as well. Four combat uniforms require distinct accouterments and gear, to say nothing of manufacturing times and transportation overseas. If standards are an issue, I'll offer a baseline: a pattern that blends into the relevant operating environment; stitching that doesn't rip at the crotch; material that doesn't melt onto the skin. And the Pentagon should leave the embarrassing copyright battles to the smartphone industry. I'd like to think the United States military has more pressing things to worry about.

Discard the entire article...these two paragraphs are what matter and our services don't seem to understand that.
 

RackMaster

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This quote is the only reason I'll admit to reading the whole article and with it, I want a job on Pandora...

Naturally the Air Force wanted in on that action, and set about to make its own mark on the camouflage world. It's first choice? A Vietnam-era blue tiger-stripe pattern. (You know, to blend in with the trees on Pandora.)
 

JohnnyBoyUSMC

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The military services are becoming jokingly political.

Eh not really sure it's politics, more of a pride and distinction of branch thing than anything else. Personally I say let whoever use whatever works for them in the field, I'm not gonna gripe about it!
 

ThunderHorse

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This is what I do know about this whole ordeal, the fabric quality that my uniform is made of sucks you know what. The MCCUU or however it is...doesn't seem to blow out crotches, or stain as easily. In regards to stains I'm talking about dirt...you get muddy in ACUs and that crap does not come out.
 

B3dlam

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What exactly can the Marine core do if the navy or army decided to wear MarPat? Cry really loud?

The new coast guard uniforms are horrid as well they paid no attention to the actual everyday comfort they are a royal pain to wear day to day I am just transitioning to coveralls and flight suits as much as possible these days.
 

Marine0311

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What exactly can the Marine core do if the navy or army decided to wear MarPat? Cry really loud?

The new coast guard uniforms are horrid as well they paid no attention to the actual everyday comfort they are a royal pain to wear day to day I am just transitioning to coveralls and flight suits as much as possible these days.

It's "Marine Corps" not "core". Both "Navy" and "Army" have capital letters.
 

pardus

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What exactly can the Marine core do if the navy or army decided to wear MarPat? Cry really loud?
.

Jesus...

Apart from your other fuck ups with situational awareness and insulting the fighting forces of this country through your ignorance, do you know that MARPAT is copyrighted?

I hope you're better at your job than current affairs...
 

B3dlam

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Jesus...

Apart from your other fuck ups with situational awareness and insulting the fighting forces of this country through your ignorance, do you know that MARPAT is copyrighted?

I hope you're better at your job than current affairs...

I understand that MarPat is copyrighted and that makes sense. I am not a governmental law professor so I will admit my ignorance however I wasn't aware one branch of the military could take another branch to court over copyright infringement it seems like it would be a mired bog of Sovereign Immunity among other things and again I am no expert just attempting to learn here.

I have nothing but respect for the US Marine Corps. With that said I do believe that if we have one pattern that works as was mentioned in the original article why not allow everyone to use it. Is it merely an issue of each service maintaining its own identity?

It just irks me that soldiers lives may be put at risk due to an issue of copyright.
 

pardus

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It just irks me that soldiers lives may be put at risk due to an issue of copyright.

I'm guessing that you're young...

You need to realize that "Soldiers" lives are meaningless to politicians until it effects their re-election.
 

B3dlam

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I'm guessing that you're young...

You need to realize that "Soldiers" lives are meaningless to politicians until it effects their re-election.

If this was an issue of politicians screwing over soldiers I would understand completely. I guess I was just surprised to see one branch denying another branch something that could help them however I guess when you get high enough up in the ranks you have to become a politician of sorts.
 

DrkEgl

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The NWU Type II (Navy desert digital) isn't simply restricted to NSW; it's also designated for support and other NECC units within the appropriate AOR. The NWU Type III (Navy green digital) which replaced my lovely woodlands is sort of growing on me, though I hope not literally. I have heard all the same rumor about Marine Corps jealousy or confusion. I find it difficult to think any actual jealousy exists and ridiculous to think any true confusion exists. The potential for confusion was framed in a way that a Marine wouldn't be able to distinguish between another Marine and a Navy (Seabee or Sailor) wearing the Type III. If that is a legitimate concern, I am terrified.

I'll be, um, "field testing" the Type II uniform a little later this year. I'll give you my honest opinion when I get back.
 

Teufel

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If this was an issue of politicians screwing over soldiers I would understand completely. I guess I was just surprised to see one branch denying another branch something that could help them however I guess when you get high enough up in the ranks you have to become a politician of sorts.

The Marine Corps wants to be be unique. Didn't the other branches want the same thing? Isn't that why the Army went to an obnoxious grey camouflage pattern? Then the Air Force went to a terrible tiger stripe grey pattern? Then the Navy decided to adopt a blue and gold camo pattern? There is something to be said about looking different. Granted it didn't really work out for the other services because of corrupt procurement practices. If you want the best camo pattern just adopt the multicam. Which most SOF units have done. You don't need the Marine Corps' pattern. If the Marine Corps wants to do its own thing....well why not? So much money has been spent on camouflage development by all the services. Why is it that the service with by far the smallest budget and who spent the LEAST amount of money on camouflage development being accused of monopolizing a camouflage pattern? If you want to wear MARPAT....then sign the dotted line and join the Marine Corps. We have always been the most ornery of the services. It's part of what makes us who we are.
 

Teufel

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The NWU Type II (Navy desert digital) isn't simply restricted to NSW; it's also designated for support and other NECC units within the appropriate AOR. The NWU Type III (Navy green digital) which replaced my lovely woodlands is sort of growing on me, though I hope not literally. I have heard all the same rumor about Marine Corps jealousy or confusion. I find it difficult to think any actual jealousy exists and ridiculous to think any true confusion exists. The potential for confusion was framed in a way that a Marine wouldn't be able to distinguish between another Marine and a Navy (Seabee or Sailor) wearing the Type III. If that is a legitimate concern, I am terrified.

I'll be, um, "field testing" the Type II uniform a little later this year. I'll give you my honest opinion when I get back.

Marine Corps jealousy? I have no response to this.
 

ThunderHorse

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According to NAVADMIN 374/09 wear of NWU type II is restricted to NSW units and support units attached to NSW units.
http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/NAVADMINS/NAV2009/NAV09374.txt

The original reason that I'd read back then was that the female bulldog felt scorned by the male squid that he would flatter himself with having a desert pattern that so closely resembles MARPAT. Again, this whole copyright of the freakin' pattern by the Corps shows how prima donna they can get. Whatever happened to one team one fight, especially since the Jarheads and Squids are in the same freakin department.
 
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