Thanks to our good buddies at Soldier Systems Daily for tipping us off to the latest news on the Navy’s search for a camo uniform that’s actually…well…camouflaged.

Kit Up! made a few calls yesterday and had an interview with the Navy’s program manager for the Navy Working Uniform Type II and III and a top gear buyer for the service’s Expeditionary Programs office. Be sure to read the story we posted on Military.com this morning to get the overall view of the program and where it’s going.

But peeling the onion back a bit, there are a couple of issues the folks I talked to didn’t really square away. First, it seems that there’s already an “approved” version of the NWU Type III. In fact, the MCPON (seen above) has been wearing it on his recent tours of the fleet. This version (we’ll call version 1) has:

  • Straight flap chest pockets
  • Small can-of-chew or pack-of-butts shoulder pockets
  • Straight flap cargo pockets
  • Drawstring waist
  • Collar rank insignia

Version #2, which incorporates feedback from the Naval Special Warfare community who proved the seed-corn of the entire idea, has:

  • Large shoulder pockets
  • Angled cargo pockets
  • Chest pockets oriented for body armor wear
  • Elastic waist
  • Centerline rank insignia

Now, I asked how the Navy could possibly design a uniform that meets the demands of communities as divergent as the Seebees and SEALs. The folks I was interviewing got a bit defensive and tried to explain that Seabees are in combat too. But I countered that it still was apples and oranges and they didn’t budge.

Well, what might be going on here is that the Seabees and their ilk who’ll get the Type IIIs want one thing, and the SEALs, who actually started this whole initiative back in 2003, predictably want another thing. The Navy is seemingly trying to square a circle here and in the end, I betcha dollars for dougnuts the service goes with the MCPON-worn version #1 and the NSW community continues to buy their Beyond Tactical gear in AOR 1 and 2.

Another strange thing about this whole story that the officials I talked to wouldn’t comment on is this crazy idea that only NavSpecWar will be allowed to wear the Type II desert camo uniforms. All other Sailors deployed to a desert environment will wear the tri-color cammies (even EOD). So, let me get this straight…the Navy is spending $80 million to design, test and field a new desert cammo uniform…but only for a few thousand Sailors?

So we’ll have three different cammies in the inventory: the bizzaro blue and grey Type Is, the Type II desert, the Type III woodland and the Tri-Color desert. Is this NSW strong arming the service in order to be “special”? And how ironic it would be for the service to pick the design for the Type II that the SEALs didn’t want, they wear their Crye or Beyond Tactical kit, and nobody ends up wearing the Type II at the end of this exercise.

Might be far fetched, but we’ll see how this shakes out. There’s a lot more to this story than meets the eye.

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