The Navy’s Divergent Vision for New Cammies

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 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.

  • Jeff

    Is it me or does there seem to be a “who has the most high speed camo pattern” contest between all the military branches? Even the army is thinking of ditching the ACU pattern that hasn’t even been in service that long. With technology evolution there is a need to stay relevant, but please let’s do it right the first time.

    Less camo flip flop and more MK 17.

  • fc2grimm

    And let’s not forget, Navy personnel on IA asignments will sometimes wear the ACU uniform. And Navy corpsmen assigned to a Marine unit will wear that uniform. I may be wrong, but the Navy might have the widest array of uniform types to wear.

  • Lance

    The older woodland camo is just fine for Seebees and SEAL i don’t get this dumb digi camo crap. If they have to just adopt the MARPAT uniforms. I don’t think this will get anywhere soon as Defense Secretary is cutting the Navy budget by 1/2, and closing command at the Atlantic Fleet.

  • Bob

    Seems like all you really need (for all services) is two camoflage uniforms. A desert pattern and an everything else pattern. Along with a white outer uniform for artic/high mountain. Current dress uniforms ought to be good for the next 50-60 years, and garrison work uniform just needs to be functional and easy to clean. Winning the next war is not going to depend on who has the most fashionable cammo. With all the money wasted on uniforms we could have developed, and fielded a new battle rifle and pistol, in more effective calibers than 5.56 and 9mm, and provided the new ammo for them.

  • R_O

    With the amount of different camo uniforms that have been put out in the last 6 years between all of the branches of the U.S. Military, the military sure as hell should have had enough spending cash to upgrade our Infantry guys on the frontlines with some improved combat gear.

    All we need is MARPAT, straight across the board. As simple as that. ACU’s, MultiCam, Tiger Stripe, the Navy’s freaking smurf camo, all of it has been a waste.

  • Aaron

    I’m Army, however, I know a lot of Seabees having grown up around Port Hueneme, CA. Trust me they would prefer the type two version to what the MCPON is parading around. This isn’t a problem between the Seabee and SEAL/NSW community it is the Blue Water Navy attempting to dictate to the dictate to the Dirt Sailors.

    • Seabeeindc

      You hit the nail on the head with that statement above!

  • Tiger1

    This has achieved the “BEYOND RIDICULOUS” status.

  • crackedlenses

    And we thought the Army was being dysfunctional….

  • chief sparks

    The Type III uniform will be for all personnel assigned with any NECC command… so there is more that just a few! Get your facts straight. The uniform are made for the mission and in all of the consideration are for the durability of the uniforms. The navy work uniform has always been way to easy to tear and wear down… with these new uniforms it will keep the replacement costs down. So in a nutshell people .. One for seagoing, one for desert, and one for woodlands….. remember KISS.

    CPO Sparks

  • Metoo

    Once the Marine Corps gets something good every other branch wants to have it.

    • strikehold

      Correction: Once the Canadians got something good, then the Americans got jealous and had to “improve” it. LOL

  • USNRET94

    Desert camo and wooland camo for war/combat zones…the old OD green fatigue/utility type uniform for peace time and garrison duty. They’re cheaper and look good (better that “cammies”) when properly laundered and worn. This is not rocket science or even high tech. save that for the weapons we need in the field.

    • Wake27

      You talking about the OD’s that were standard back in the Nam era? I heard those were super comfortable and just great. Would be perfect for garrison it seems.

  • Wild Bill 1958

    I do not know how you “Navy guys” keep track of your total inventory of uniforms now much less adding confusion about camouflage utilities. I’m just glad we only had to transition to Woodland BDUs during my time in the Army and Marine Corps. I concur with previous comments concerning the money wasted on cammies for each and every environment could and should have been put to better use on small arms systems. In fact, considering everything from 2002 to date, the DoD could have probably purchased another F-22 Raptor. OK, my final word is USMC MARPAT is excellent, Multicam has a purpose (sparse wooded areas and grasslands), and desert cammies for those nice Southwestern Asia days and “Arabian nights.” Ditch everything else and lets “play ball” and “kick ass.”

  • robdarby

    I will never understand each branch of service desire for individual cammies. Without a doubt, the Marines have the best utility uniforms and all services should adopt it. Now each service is wasting millions of uniform design.

  • USAF SrA

    I may hate the ABU but I will sure as hell never wear MARPAT.

  • Billy

    let just KISS (keep it simple stupid) nature is too diverse to make one type of camo to fit all situations.

  • Abraham

    You need to ask yourself why the Big Navy is buying an outdated desert unifrom when they could buy the NSW uniform for the same cost.

  • Mathieu

    Holy posed pictures Batman! Did that Petty Officer just get explained the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy?

  • crackedlenses

    Another thing, why make a blueish camo for guys who might fall into BLUE water?!?!?

    • Ted

      Indeed. They’re already on big ships anyway so why the need for camo?

      • Riceball

        The idea, supposedly, was not to hide the wearer but the dirt, oil, and grease that would inevitably get on the uniform. I guess that Navy regs didn’t allow for much dirt, oil, or grease to show on a uniform before it was considered either completely unservicable and needed to be replaced or before it had to be wash and the officers and Chief’s work khakis didn’t take much to ruin so they decided that a camouflaged uniform in blues and greys would hide all but the worst stains. Plus the uniforms are also supposed to be wash and wear so no pressing needed, it will be ready to wear right out of the wash.

  • Ted

    This entire uniform thing is such a big joke. The Marines must be laughing uncontrollably at the Army and Navy.

  • Jake

    80 million dollar clothing project! This is so typical BS. DOD is closing military installations around the country to save bucks, the marines are looking at improved infantry weapontry and the Navy wants to purchase news uniforms.. I don’t get it.

  • Phill

    I think all of this was done to make a few people rich at the expense of the American taxpayers. Whoever approved these silly uniforms is probably a stockholder in the company that makes them.

  • Recce

    Why each branch with a different uniform? Does identitiy and traditions mean anything to you. Each branch wants to maintain it own Identity, fair enough. Just lets watch the bill please, DOD…

  • Ok, I understand the need for corpsman and other sailors to wear camo in certain circumstances. But come on!!. Give it break…It isn’t like green is going to camouflage you in the middle of the ocean. To me it just sounds like a waste of money. Money that could be put to better use in much need areas. In my opinion, you need 4 kinds of uniforms. Formal, dress, work, combat. If you can combine them even better.

  • Navyair

    Let’s see. The type II (DCU) is for Special Ops guys only. Coupled with the different head gear, should make our SPECOPS folks stand out in a crowd.

    Hmmm. Should make figuring out which tents they sleep in while in garrison (mortars) and sniper targeting easier.

    Next we should put big shiny rank symbols back on the gear. (NOT!)

    Have we forgotten the term “uniform” as in everybody wears the same type so as not to stand out?

    I guess if we shake up the seabag enough times, nobody will notice that (the few that are left ) the ships are rusting to the piers.

  • Trae York

    absolutley! Sec Gates look at uniform boards, panels first. Pick one for the whole force and move out! Multicam for Army, Navy and Air Force. Leave the jarheads be, they’ve got thier **** together already.

    count the ABUs, NWU, ACUs as a a lost cause and move-out with all digi-camo for everyone.
    Trae, USAF ….

  • Robert Ryan

    Hey when did soldiers start to man ships. They can’t be sailors. Don’t look any sailor I ever knew or served with.

  • GregG

    Wow. They look Canandian now.

  • guest

    That picture makes me wonder if they’re going to kiss!

  • M.G.Halvorsen

    (1) each: Blue Chambray Shirt
    (1) each Blue denim dungaree trousers
    (1) pair Boondockers (possible substitute combat boots)
    (1) each Blue NAVY Ball cap (Possible Substitute Ship/unit Cap)
    Look like a Sailor, Act like a sailor, Feel like a Sailor.
    Nuff Said.

  • Dylan

    Wait a minute! Gates is trying to cut the military spending (on MILITARY RETIREMENT) and the Navy and Army are coming out with new uniforms. What is wrong with this picture? A higher up such as Gates, or Admiral Mullen should stop this and require all the services to conform to ONE UNIFORM for ALL Services. One team, one fight!

  • William

    hahaha Smurf camo… never heard it put that way. so true though

  • seabeebob

    As a Seabee assigned to an NSW command, this issue is stupid. Since the Marines went to Marpat, there was always a rumor that the Seabees would get it (since we deploy with and support Marines). Now, we are getting the (basically) woodland Marpat uniform, but still get the tri-colored deserts??? We don’t want be mistaken for Marines in the sandbox, but it’s OK everywhere else????

    The operators will wear what they want…period.

    Oh, and we call the fleeters uniforms “Blueberries”.

    • Riceball

      I agree, they should just let you guys wear MARPATs, there’s no need for Seabees, EOD, or the riverine/boat folks to have a unique camo when MARPATs would work just fine and as you said, the operators will just wear whatever they want anyway. I guess the Navy brass were feeling left out with everybody developing their own camo uniforms and just had to have their own and weren’t satisfied with just NWU I which actually makes sense.

    • crackedlenses

      Let the sailors keep their Blueberries, it was probably done to maintain Naval pride, and it supposedly doesn’t wear out as fast as khakis do. I think they should mix another, brighter color in though to make it easier to risk overboard sailors.

      • crackedlenses


  • hostile

    oooo-ra we test it break it and give it back… really ower bloated defense bugget is buying newer camies??? i had 2 months left when i was ginen and then orderd to take and where those garbage digital camies,, what a wast gulf echo 4 out 2 nd tanks rule!!!!

  • steve smith

    since when do the seals care about what they wear in the field they taylor there camies to what they want… when i was in the seals where the first guys to sew on all those extra pokets you guys are enjoying.. thats one of the reasons they were such bad asses they literaly did what ever they wanted to there camies , and oh you were gonna square them away. ..yaaa go seal team 6

  • deerpark

    Why did the Navy officials not comment on your questions on Type II policy? Doesn’t that come from the PAO for the Navy?

  • Squid Pro Quo

    I have to agree with Wild Bill ’58 on the points he raised. I’ve been out in the field in BDU, ACU, and DCU flavored cammies, and have to say:
    1. USMC MARPAT is excellent (be they out in the woods or even in the chow line on a ship, Marines were surprisingly hard to see in their excellent digital pattern breaking cammies)– a big plus when enemy gunners are scoping for targets but can’t see them.
    2. MultiCam has a purpose (grasslands, wooded areas)– much better than the highway gray ACU pattern.
    3. Desert Cammies for the desert.
    4. Ditch everything else (including the new smurf cammies) and “Kick Ass.”
    We’ve wasted enough money and time already on pointless R&D for a new Navy Cammy.

  • Brian


    Dig a little more before you accuse the Navy of stupidity – seabeebob is right. The Type II will not be issued to “regular” sailors, because the USMC forbid it, saying that the pattern was too close to Desert MARPAT, meaning that they didn’t want sailors to be confused with Marines. The only people that will get to wear the Type II are the SPECWAR guys, not the Seabeas or any other IAs supporting “ground” efforts.

  • Mike

    We do!! Continuously!

  • BAR

    The “REGULAR” Navy needs a plan work uniform that is simple and easy to wear. The ones that go into HARMS WAY need a special uniform or multiple types depending on mission. To lump ALL the Navy into some new high speed uniform for the no real reason is a waste of effort and money.

  • Johnny ACE

    If you’re a SHOE, there’s no need to comment here

  • DecentWeasel

    Amen to the flip flop, Jeff. I’m actually really interested in this cammo stuff but I’m just as dismayed. What frustrates me is a lot of these patterns don’t even seem to be that well thought out. Really historically good stuff, like Rhodesian and DPM and Tiger, break up the human form with broad shapes and tones that cut across and cancel out the shapes of the human body; these just try to “match the background” (important, but not the whole answer) and consequently risk turning into a solid blob of color at any range.

  • DecentWeasel

    oops, sorry, necro’d. I misread the date, sorry.