If I Only Had a Brain…


Submitted by Eric Daniel, photo by Michael Yon

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 they’re going to outfit two battalions with new camouflage uniforms.  But there’s 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 isn’t 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 don’t have a “one color works nowhere” uniform like we do; they have a green one and a tan one.  The problem is, they don’t operate in an area that’s uniformly green or tan, so in order to bust up their signature they mix the tops and bottoms.  I’m 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. 
Why were their trousers unbloused?  Because it’s frikkin hot, that’s why.  I don’t know why the Army blouses its trousers (the story most commonly told is it originated with the paratroopers during WWII, who did it to provide additional storage space for things like socks and medical bandages) but in combat, blousing or not should be at the discretion of the soldier, for thermoregulatory purposes only.  If you’re hot, open em up and let some air in.  If it’s cold and windy, tie them off, but for God’s sake, let the soldier decide; calling back to Regiment to see if the wet bulb temperature warrants a unit-wide modification to the uniform is just silly (and for the record, I know there are some units out there that are actually combat minded and will make these decisions at the local level, I’ve just never served in one.)
The same applies to your sleeves.  Will the world come to a screeching halt, or will he become completely combat ineffective if Joe rolls his sleeves up a little to let some air in?  Or maybe he just wants to keep them out of his food, or out of the filth that he’s currently searching.  How many Americans have lost their lives from sleeve placement, and yet it is a “point of emphasis” in Army uniform regulation enforcement.
The U.S. Army is all about force protection, and that means you wear as much armor as you possibly can, always.  You never take your armor off (well except when you’re doing PT, because body armor isn’t part of the authorized PT uniform) and you most assuredly never appear in public without it.  When last I was in Iraq we had to go to Kuwait to pick up some equipment.  Division uniform policy at the time required that we would wear full kit when ever we were in theater, so while folk were wandering the PX in shorts, flip flops and Hawaiian shirts, there we were in 50 pounds of body armor looking like a bunch of wallies.  But we were safe!!  Yes, I understand that the warfare there is non-linear, and you can be attacked at any moment (for the record, our camp was rocketed almost daily yet in the year I was there we sustained no casualties) but you need to weigh the risk of hypothetical injury from a hypothetical attack with the real fatigue and discomfort caused by wearing all that crap all the time.  If Joe wants to shed his armor and dome of obedience inside the wire, let him.  Oh, if only the U.S. Army had the same faith in the decision making capabilities of its soldiers that it seems the MoD has in its.
Well, as long as we’re on the subject of the Army’s new combat uniform color, while I laude the Army for looking into a more effective camouflage pattern, a new color is only half the problem.  What we need is a uniform that was built with combat in mind, not power point presentations.
The velcro has got to go.  I don’t know what idi…individual came up with this idea, but it is the worst of the worst.  Velcro just has no place on a combat uniform.  As I understand it, the rational behind adopting the velcro for pocket closures and patch placement was to eliminate the issue of lost buttons, facilitate securing the sleeve cuffs, and to save soldiers a couple bucks when they PCS.  Well, paying $2/patch every 3 years when you PCS (to sew on a different unit patch) is a small price to pay when compared to buying an entire uniform (remember, you can’t mis-match uniforms of different “ages”, so if you’ve got a faded uniform top with worn velcro, you can’t just buy a new top) just to replace an ACU top that has had the velcro pile “patches” wear out.  Moreover, while I’ve never lost a sew on U.S. ARMY tape low crawling in BDUs I have lost them, as well as that all important full color American flag, crawling around in ACUs.  This becomes a real mission critical issue when uniform conscious leaders identify the discrepancy and render you NMC until you acquire a replacement (naturally, a squared away soldier carries a pack of replacement unit patches, rank, and name tapes for just such an emergency, but the point is, we didn’t used to have to.) 
Velcro is also noisy.  Now, I’ve not done any scientific acoustical analysis, nor do I have any data to evaluate how many friendly positions were given away by the noise created by opening a velcro pocket, but coming from a noise and light disciplined oriented organization, I absolutely cringe with terror at the phrase “prepare to copy” because the next thing you hear is a patrol base wide “RIIIIIP” as everyone rips open their pocket to get their notebook out.  The bottom line here is, is the noise created by opening velcro pockets a tactical liability?  I don’t know, but it sure as hell makes a lot more noise than buttons.
Speaking of buttons, velcro is a poor substit
ute for them.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but trying to peel that tiny velcro flap on the ACU chest pockets is a real pain, especially with gloves on.  The same applies to the sleeve pockets as well.  More often than not, if I want to access these pockets I need to use both hands; one to pull open the pocket, and the other to pull back on my uniform to compensate for the friction of the velcro (that is until the velcro wears out or packs with mud, whereupon the pockets won’t close at all.)  Better that we’d retained the buttons (and I would have made them larger, to be easier to manipulate with gloves on.)  Finally, it’s an easy enough thing to replace missing buttons in the field (yes, a squared away Joe carries a sewing kit with him) but it’s flat out imposable to replace worn, torn, or frayed velcro anywhere.
It’s a combat uniform, not a prom dress.  How a combat uniform looks is important, I believe, but only from a mission accomplishment perspective, not a social perspective.  Combat uniforms should have pockets, and those pockets should be large and capable of carrying large bulky items, even if they do make you look “poofy.”  The original issue BDUs had large pockets on the blouse and on the trouser thighs, and these pockets were equipped with expandable bellows sides (as well as drain holes) but as time went on, the pockets got smaller and thinner until you got to the point that folk were cutting off the pockets off all together and just sewing pocket faces back on.

When I first got to Iraq in 2004 many of us cut the bottom pockets off our DCU blouses and sewed them on to the bicep.  While this provided us with access to a large pocket that would have otherwise been unavailable (covered by our body armor) as a sharp eyed and uniformity conscious CSM pointed out, that modification was not only not authorized but it didn’t look professional, and looks are everything (go take a look at pictures of all those uniformly dressed paratroopersfrom WWII.  How such an undisciplined and unprofessional appearing fighting force such as this, which would go into combat with unauthorized uniform modifications, ever beat the Nazis is beyond me.)

While the ACU pockets aren’t that bad, they certainly don’t have the same utility as the original BDUs (with the old BDUs you could put a complete MRE in the pocket and close it up, you can’t do that with the ACUs).  For starters, the calf and bicep pockets are simply worthless.  The calf pocket is tiny and down by your boot, which means it’s exposed to possible immersion in water or mud, so whatever you put in there had better be water and shock-proof.  The bicep pocket is small (one of the reasons they made the pockets slanted was to make them easier to get your hand in.  It also helps if you actually make the pocket big enough to get your hand in in the first place.) and with all that velcro on it, it’s a pain in the ass to open.  In order for me to open that pocket I need to grip the cuff of the sleeve with the pocket I want to open, just to create enough resistance to get the pocket to open.) 

Does having large pockets mean you have to walk about 24/7 looking like a corn-fed chipmunk?  Of course not, but it sure as hell would be nice to have the capability if you needed it.  Moreover, I don’t think it would be such a bad idea to re-introduce the large bellows pockets on the bottom portion of the uniform blouse.  Yes, I know, we wear body armor now, so those pockets are covered up, but that armor also covers up the top pockets we retained, and again, I’d rather have them and not use them, than want them and not have them; that or increase the length of the blouse and make it more like a safari jacket, where the bottom pockets are below the body armor.
As mentioned previously, buttons are great for closing up pockets, and we should have never gotten rid of them.  In fact, we could probably have made the pocket ones a little larger to make them easier to use with gloves on (I remember seeing old pictures of 1980’s era Canadians.  They had huge single buttons on their pockets, which allowed them to manipulate them with mittens on.)  The same can be said with respect to the zipper they use on the ACU blouse now.  Yes, it makes it easy to get on and off, and this can be a boon to medical personnel trying to get access to a casualty’s wounds, but Joe is just plain screwed if the zipper breaks; he has to replace the entire top rather than sew on a new button.

One item for which I catch a lot of flack, is my belt, or lack thereof.  I don’t wear one.  In its place I wear suspenders, and by suspenders I mean the riveted in, six button type suspenders, not those willie foo foo ones you use with your wet weather pants at the wash rack.  Wearing suspenders is a habit I picked up as a wildland firefighter for the USFS.  Between cutting line, running a chainsaw, or being on a southern California hillside where the temperature of the water in my canteen is 108, I found suspenders to be a significant improvement over a belt.  Not only do they keep your pants up, but they don’t constrict the fabric at your waist, which allows for a good flow of air, and it allows debris which may have fallen down your shirt to fall through your trouser legs, which can prevent chafing or similar friction related injuries.  While I’m not saying that suspender use should be mandatory, it should be a viable option in any combat uniform we select, which means the buttons should be built in.

I am told they made the ACU baggier than the BDUs but I don’t recall ever tearing out the crotch on my BDUs while now I can’t go six months without tearing one out in the ACU.  Combat uniforms should be baggy, everywhere, not just in the legs.  Remember the old issue OD-green field pants with liner and parka?  Well those days are gone, and all you have now is your uniform and your Gortex, so your clothes have to be cut large enough to accommodate the additional layers you’re going to be wearing in the winter to keep warm on patrol.

So, while evaluating a new color for our combat uniform is all good and well, I wish the Army would also take the time to stop and think about functionality of the uniform it was slapping that color on.

  • Constantin

    To me a uniform is something that is sacred, but functional; you don’t go mixing them up because as men and women who have sworn an oath this uniform represents that oath. But on the other hand functionality should always be the most important thing on the list it has to be a uniform you can use and abuse and not in a friggin’ office

  • Glockster20

    In some aspect I like a lot of the thought of the ACU’s the cammo pattern not to hot on. But the pocket concept is good and I do agree they need to be bigger and the pants do need to be baggier. I think the tops need to be longer in torso also. But hopefully the Army will look at changing some of this stuff. I am glad it is a wash and wear I hated the thought of starch and iron. I thought it was a stupid SGM concept. Plus the latter BDU’s sucked from what they were at one time. As far as the ACU pockets the ones on the chest do need to be bigger and maybe a zipper in there instead of velcro and the bicept pockets I agree need to be bigger. Love the article and made some definate valid points on things the ACUs are lacking. Bravo!!!

  • sly

    First the picture as you indicated is of Brits(out of our jurisdiction). Second I agree with everything else you said about the uniforms. I never agreed with the change to velcro for the same reasons you stated. One thing not stated is the awards that we now wear with pin-ons. Most soldiers don’t wear them now because they also are a pain Literally. They get caught on everything and become a FOD issue and this is in garrison! Uniforms are supposed to be General purpose wear everywhere. I started career when od’s were worn(yes I’m old). When the change to BDU’s came it was good to have camo and go back to big baggy uniform to accommodate everything needed in the field. Soldiers have always been good about having a professional look and I don’t see that changing. If you can blend the best of the BDU(big pockets, baggy wear, buttons) and ACU(pockets in sleeves and pantlegs, fire resistant, breathable)more DCU colors, and patches sewn on I think you have a great combo. One more thing bring back the field cap as standard headwear. One word…Functionality!

  • Ted

    WOW! You’ve hit every nail on the head Eric. When the ACU’s were introduced, I wasn’t even IN the Army anymore, and I easily pointed out all the things I hated about them. VELCRO, no Infantry Joe wants to hear that annoying rip out in the field, especially at night. And the velro patches, pure idiocy. I absolutely hated the idea of the black pin-on badges. I never used them and I didn’t know anyone who did. I admit I have a set of ACUs now, and they’re great in the civilian world, but I’m glad I don’t have to deal with them in combat!

  • You make awesome points, unfortunately they will fell on deaf ears. The Army has way too much invested in the ACU to go and change it. By the way, the people that keep pestering units to remain in uniform while in combat are the same type that insist you change into a clean uniform before you go into the DFAC after rolling into the FOB from a mission. Hey, how is life at 75 feet above sea level? Rowe Mesa will live in your heart for ever.

  • Jane

    The bicep pockets don’t need to be bigger, they already cause enough trouble. I can’t put anything in them because if I try and put my rucksack or LBV on it gets caught on my bicep pockets. I think those pockets are pretty useless.

  • JRB

    Someone with an independent, outside the box thought process? How refreshing!! This person should be the Army CoS or something!! I completely agree!

  • Phillip

    So why are you so wrapped up on uniform violations for the British Army? They could be wearing nothing but a light coat of oil for all I care. I want the US Army, Marines to have a uniform that works for the area they are in. That is what interests me, not what some other country is wearing or how they are wearing it.

  • Phillip,

    I’m not wrapped up about the Brits at all, quite the opposite actually. I wish I was able to exercize the same kind of judgment that they do. Moreover, I agree wholeheartedly with you, I wish we all had a uniform that worked. Unfortunately, it has been my experience in the U.S. Army that what we are interested in most is in fact what we are wearing and how it’s worn.

    Case in point, you go out to formation and it’s raining. Having had the perspicacity to look out the window and see the weather conditions, you decide to bring your Gortex jacket so that you can stay dry. Regettably, you are in the minority, and since not everyone did not bring a Gortex, you must ALL go with out them, thus maintaining unit uniformity.

    Now, looking the same on the parade field is one thing, and I’m all for that, but by and large the Army’s fixation on uniformity is neanderthalish at best.

    During my last rotation in Iraq, I was attached to the IA (Iraqi Army.) There was a SF ODA team on our FOB and we would have to go out with them from time to time when they took our Iraqi joes on missions. The mission briefings the team sergeant used to give were absolute classics.

    “Ok, listen up. We’re going on a raid. There are going to be bad guys in the area so bring a gun and bring some bullets. Make sure they match. We’re going in at night so bring some NODs, and make sure they work. We’re in the desert, so wear something brown, and it’s going to rain, so bring something waterproof. Pee before you go. Are there any questions?”

    And away we went (yes there was a lot more to the mission than that, but that was what stuck in my mind the most.)

    When ever we went on missions with the “Americans” our PCI/PCCs consisted of ensuring everyone had eye protection, ear plugs, knee pads and elbow pads. Not once did anyone check me for a weapon or ammunition, radio frequencies, batteries, or NODs. Since there were no elbow pads in supply in my size, I had to get a memorandum, signed by my CO, authorizing me off post in case the BC/CSM stopped by to inspect us (we had a couple of joes get ART-15s for getting caught off post without their elbow pads, so it was no joke.)

    This, in my opinion, is bureaucracy taken to the extreme and pure, unadulterated idiocy. Unfortunatly, it has also been, in my experience, the rule rather than the norm.

  • Sly,

    I wasn’t picking on the Brits, I was envying them.

    And thanks for reminding me about the pin-ons (since I don’t have any, it escaped my notice.) As you say, wearing badges is a source of pride, but they’ve got to be killing those poor joes who have to deal with them now. Between getting stabbed in the chest with them to having to deal with taking them off before putting your armor on, stowing them, doing your mission, and then putting them all back on, I can see why most folk wouldn’t bother. Moreover, stabbing your uniform repeatedly can’t be good for the fabric. Again, this just goes back to folk not having thought this through completely.

    As for looking professional, I think a disciplined unit can look professional in bath towels. Professionalism is not just about what you wear but what you do. As a wildland firefighter, filthy is a relative term, but you could always spot the best hand crews by how they carried themselves and how they conducted themselves.

    Talking about hats reminded me of being in the Scouts, years ago. Whenever we went to the field we had to take 5 hats with us; 1) The CVC for when we were in the humvee, plugged into the intercom 2) the kevlar for when we were in the field and more than 10 feet from the humvee 3) the beret, for when we were in garrison at Ft Irwin 4) The PC for when we were in the maintenance area at Irwin, and 5) the boonie hat, for when were out of sight and out of mind and could actually get some training done…

  • Jane,

    I kept losing my patches that way (not so much from the LBE but the rucksack) until I changed the way I rucked up (and I took the patches off.) If you’re putting the ruck on like a jacket, try putting it on over your head (expand the shoulder straps, lay the ruck on it’s back and stand at the head, then grasp the ruck by the sides, and lift it up, over, and drop it on your back.

  • Andy

    Some things never change. I agree with the statements about the new uniforms. I’ve been out of the Army for 30 years and when I first saw the ACU’s I had to wonder what idiot chairborne REMF came up with the velcro patches. I was 11c/11b for seven years and even I could see the problems with this uniform. I agree with all your statements. I’m truly sorry to hear that CSM’s still don’t have anything better to do then ding field soldiers about uniform violations (in my day it was “Why aren’t those field boots shined?”. They probably still bitch about police call too. In the field, we need pockets that work,rank & patches that won’t fall off, and the descretion to make our gear work, irrespective of regulations. I can just imagine losing said patches when on a LRRP. We often modified our uniforms with non-regulation items, i.e. large calf pockets on our field pants for map cases, epaulets on our fatigue shirts (2nd Div authorized). The powers that be need to have real soldiers (combat arms, medics, etc.)test this crap before it’s adopted.

  • sean

    Good ideas, but they will never go anywhere. The army supposedly did extensive testing on the ACUs. Anyone who has worn them in combat can tell those tests must have had a very low scoring policy. The patten sucks, and they are not very sturdy. I did find a old chair that the ACU pattern blended in with!

  • jack


  • OIF_to_USC

    I’ll never be active duty again due to age but I did serve in Iraq in support of IMEF/ MLG in 06/07 with DoD in Al-Anbar. Before leaving my local command, I was issued Marine desert cammies (MCCUUs) and the rest of the issue that goes with it. Having worn and appreciated the old reliable BDU/DCUs in the past, the MCCUUs were even better. They were certainly cut better than the Army ACUs, blended better with the environment, had buttons throughout except for two little Velcro tabs on the chest pockets, and were roomier than even the older BDU/DCUs. The Marine cammies are so well made and look so good, the Navy (naturally) adopted essentially the same uniforms for their more “terrestrial” downrange duties which are increasingly common. Perhaps the other services ought to take a close look at the cut, fit, and features of the Marine Camouflage Combat Utility Uniform before they invest too heavily in something less. Too, the Bates USMC boot, vented and unvented, is the most comfortable I have ever worn.

  • Kayaker

    The US Army should never had given up the Woodland BDU uniform for this ACU crap thats out today. The ACU is garbage and doesn’t hide from much more than from being i a rock quarry and thats it !That uniform, especially the Woodland Winter Weight BDU worked PERFECTLY for many years regardless if it was HOT or COLD. If your TOO HOT !! Drink some damn water from your canteen or camelback and drive on !

    Blousing the boots ??? It shows discipline of the soldier and uniformity. Why is it a problem now with this generation of soldiers ?? It was NEVER an issue with those of us who served from the 80’s onwards…

    If you people are too hot, go back to wearing Jungle Boots then or DRINK MORE WATER and stop whining.

    Let the soldier decide if he wants to blouse or not ??? Are you mad !!! You start letting Joe make up his own mind about certain things like this and he won’t even get out of the rack in the morning. Get over it ! NCO’s lead troops, not some rear echelon pogue or TRADOC weenies who never deploy anywhere.

  • Karagin

    Can we drop this issue? Really, we need new weapons over new uniforms. The BDUs had reached the end of their usefulness. We have the ACUs, folks want to whine and cry about something so it is the ACUs, or the tan boots or the berets or the t-shirts or the socks…does it really matter in the long run? No.

    How about they spend the money on making better body armor, weapons and getting us the actual gear to fight the battles versus spending money on a new pattern of uniforms.

    And pointing out how the British military does things is like comparing apples to oranges. Different country, different standards.

  • Bill Marks

    Velcro, when water gets inside it and it turns cold, will freeze up. This locks it and you can’t strip it open.

  • Denis

    I am going to do one of those “back when I was in, we wore sateen OD Greens” numbers. Actually, the USMC switched to the poplin cammies when I was a corpsman with the FMF. Later we switched to the woodland pattern BDU. The issue of mismatches was of concern to no one, because none of those uniforms were allowed to be worn on liberty, in transit to home, or off-base period, unless you were doing work that required wearing a field uniform. When everyone decided to look like “warriors” in the 90s by wearing cammies, BDU’s or whatever, is when stuff like uniform patterns and color coordination became important. Which brings up a basic question; why can’t we just go back to wearing Bravos when working in an office setting, and utility uniforms when working in a field setting, and keep it simple.

  • The Colonel

    Once a upon a time, in the late 1970’s, there was a joint tactical exercise combining Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force units. Significant fratricide occurred as each service fired at their fellow services’ unfamiliar “enemy” uniforms. The Army killed the most AF and USN, The Marines killed AF and Army (they knew the USN uniforms) and the AF and USN fired at everybody else at random. Chagrined, the JSC decreed that there be ONE COMMON UNIFORM– the Woodland BDU. Thence, even if we weren’t one with the dirt, at least we were one with each other. The next time there was a joint exercise, wearing ONE COMMON UNIFORM, mostly UK and German troops were fratricidally “killed” but at least US troops didn’t shoot each other. As an example, the Israelis tied white handkerchiefs on their helmets to keep from troops shooting their own during an assault. Even the UK painted big American stars on their tanks to keep from being mistaken for Nazis in WW2. So after a few decades the armchair insurance-exec wannabe generals each decided that their services should have distinctive uniforms to make each services’ troops proud (and dead) in combat. When will they ever learn? The moral to this is wear IDENTICAL uniforms during tactical combat warfare or die. The choice belongs to the JSC. Remind them or bring extra body bags.

  • jim

    Great article!!
    But this has been a problem for decades. No one at the pentagon is listening.Same prob with class A,B, C, uniforms! Why did they ever do away with those of WWII??
    The Marines do not have this problem. Their dress uniform has remained untouched for a century. AND everyone can identify them! What these individuals in the puzzle palace are thinking is beyond me!! NO INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY!

  • OIF_to_USC

    Agreed. Uniforms among the different services should have the same cut and fit, and the same camo patterns with the exception of service specific unit patches “sewn” on shoulders for the Army, breast pockets for the Air Force and none for the Marines and Navy. Also the traditional MARPAT cover for the Navy and Marines and ranger/forage-style cap for the other services should continue, but that is all. We presently have several new combat utility uniform designs to include the ACU, MCCUU, ABU, and NWU to pick from. My personal decision is the Marine Corps MCCUU in desert and woodland for all services. If the Navy insists on a “third” issue (NWUs) for blue water deployments, so be it. They already adopted the woodland and desert MCCUU for their downrange deployments ashore. Get rid of the ACU which does not work and the ABU which appears to be a “me too” acquisition. The new MCCUUs in woodland and desert is the only superior replacement for the old BDU/DCU multi-service issue.

  • Oscar

    I think the Marines are squared away with thier uniforms….way better than our ACUs. Being an 11b guy, the ACUs are not too friendly with our way of life….as mentioned before about the patches and velcro. Nothing gives away your position better than the familiar rip of your velco vest and pockets. The Army should just all together adopt the Marine Corps MCCUUs pattern colors or learn enough to better the ACU(witch doesnt blend into anything)!! I like the ACU only as to ‘parade’ in the civilian world than to wear in combat. And whats the deal with the dumb Barret ??? bring the PC back as standard wear!!

    Eric I agree with everything you said and you have a great argument….only if the higher ups thought so too…. keep up the good work. God Bless

  • SPC Beaty

    I agree with most of this stuff. I have to say I don’t love the buttons so much, but if they would replace all the velcro on the pockets and blouse with zippers I think it would be much better. New zippers are actually pretty easy to get sewn on. The patches, flag etc.. SEW THEM ON!!! it is a pain in the you-know-what to always worry about loosing a patch doing something actively (which means basically anything the army is supposed to do) it is a big annoyance to me. The camo pattern is not very effective, I do like the new multi pattern, and I totally agree on the uniformity bs. Let us roll up or sleeves like the navy, air force, and even the marines get to. The combat uniform is supposed to be functional. We could make much more of the current ACUs if we could just use their full function to fit the environment on an individual level without having to go all the way up the chain just to go tan in cat 5 heat in a safe location.. seriously..

  • The Cenobyte

    Fire retardents. That’s why you leave you sleaves rolled down. It’s pretty much why we don’t wear shorts either.

    I agree that some stuff should be left up to local, and there should be more color choices in our uniforms. Rolling up your sleaves in a combat zone only makes you less safe. Same reason you keep your helmet, vest and eye protection on.

  • SFC A (Retired)

    Common sense in the Military is an oxy moron, back in “91” my company was chosen to test out a new lighter uniform. It had velcro on the pockets and a zipper for the pants. After the 3 month try out, the zippers were broken or stuck and the velcrow made so much noise that we stopped using it all together when we were in the field (I guess they did not like what we told them since the new ACU came with both). A soldier as always modified is uniform to function in his or her climate. Take a look at the photos from Korea, Vietnam and every other conflict since. I served along with some SF units and they alway had a what works for you wear it attitude, being parade pretty was far from mission ready and their command stood by them. When I put on my new ACU’s I thought that I had put on a pair of pajamas, and did not look very much like a soldier, I think that people who come up with these new uniforms have never had to wear one, use one, or fight in one.

  • Stan

    So, Phillip likes the idea of Brits wearing nothing but a thin coat of oil?
    Into some kinky stuff, huh Phil?
    I realise some of those chav boys might be pleasing to the eye, all oiled up but, well…

  • Rude Bwoy

    Ok all you retired, or just no longer in the Army people, whoever you are. Most of you are retired and waiting on your next check, so all you have to do is sit back and comment on everything going on that has nothing to do with you. Your time has come and gone and you should do the same. Yes I am a young soilder and proud of it. My Army is going through a few changes, just like yours did when you were in. We appriciate the comments but they fall on deaf ears. The world has changed and such is the way of thinking. Let the new Army deal with its problems as they come and learn from its mistakes

  • Ron

    The ARMY has its good and bad points. After another billion dollars or so , the uniform should be near completion.

  • the army will never change. what makes sense da will never do. why? its to easy. it someone dress like the brits do on some operations. you can bet that solider will get burnt. and what the hell is tradoc make uniform decisions for. i thought those dummies were a the army’s training command. somebody had a brain fart letting them making decisions outside of training (bct and ait).

  • Mike

    The half-assed “camoflage” monkey suit called the ACU is a bad joke. VELCRO??? Does nothing but give one’s position away. And that thing hanging off the front with one’s rank insignia on it…also held on with velcro…Guess nobody told the REMF that picked all these sweet features about how snipers like to shoot the highest ranking target…kinda makes a good aiming point, don’t it? I guess SOMEBODY guaranteed their next job, after they retire…And LOSE THAT DAMNED BERET!!! Or only wear it in Class-A’s…the Army still has those, I hope…Aw hell, we will never get rid of the institutional idiocy of the Military, but we could hide the worst of them in the Pentagon, like they used to, huh? Or, at least, put the dumb SOB out where somebody’s poppin’ caps with a Dragunov…or, better yet, an old M91/30 with a PU scope…


    I was involved in training for JFCOM for a few years. You could always tell the Army guys who were professional staffies…you know the types who did a lot of field work as Junior Officers and NCO’s then made a career out of rolling from staff duty to school to Joint, to more staff duty, perhaps with a quick “re-green” along the way. (but they would bristle at the title REMF)

    Anyhow, those were the guys who had illegally modified their uniforms with velcro, and wore BDU’s 24/7 even though they were on Joint staffs where everybody else was in Class A or B uniforms.

    These were the gents who were clamoring for the velcro’ed ACU’s…desk bound types who hadn’t been in the field for years, or certainly not outside of a quick visit. Never heard one of them voice the complaints mentioned above…mainly because the combat Joes voices were drowned out by the paper shufflers. Oh, and most of those JFCOM guys are now leading the Army and probably making the uniform selections.

    The SF guys got functional uniforms because their leaders continue to remember their roots and serve all the way up the chain with multiple combat tours.

  • rob

    as an ex brit soldier i can understand with the above comments.functional kit is worth its weight in gold.we used to wear our body armour under our combat jackets so we could use all the pockets also when doing a mag change you could dump your empty mag down the front of jacket.your webbing belt would prevent it from fall straight through,but with this new osprey body armour that is no longer possible.shame.in the field weather on op’s or on exercise we generally dressed for comfort but back in barracks normal army bullshit reinserted itself.

  • Harvey

    OK, I’m really going to date my self, but in the 60’s I was first in the Army for three years and then spent four years in the Air Force. The Special Forces and Air Commandos. Velcro is not worth the money you pay for it and I agree that large buttons are much easier to manipulate and replace. For the most part arm pockets aren’t worth it, and I agree that the leg pockets should continue to be fairly large with expandable sections. Uniormity is great in compound, but in the field wear what works. Uniforms for a combat situation should be as ruggedly made as possible. Rank and unit patches should be sewn on. Let the leaders in the field make decisions what is proper “outside the wire”.