Chicago Tribune Slams Pentagon on Camouflage

100513-N-9928E-036The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board chose to address camouflage Monday taking the military to task on the duplication of combat uniforms in its staff editorial.

It’s a timely topic with the Army set to announce a new pattern for the standard issue Army Combat Uniform. The Army’s secretary and chief of staff have the reports in hand to make a decision, but the waiting game continues. Army officials have said to expect an announcement of some sort this summer.

Of course, this is only the latest change to camouflage across the four services, which has been well documented and well funded by the Pentagon. The Tribune editors chose to highlight the $2.6 million spent on the universal camouflage pattern and then the additional $2.9 million when the UCP was deemed unsuitable for use in Afghanistan.

Next, the Tribune editorial board questioned why the Air Force or the Navy even need camouflage.

“You may wonder about the need for camouflage among service personnel who typically don’t take part in ground combat,” the Tribune editorial board wrote.

In particular, the editorial questioned the blueberry uniforms that sailors wear and why a sailor would want to blend into the water should he or she fall over board.

“Its choice was a lot more sensible than what happened in the Navy, whose need for camouflage on a ship at sea is not immediately obvious. The admirals went with a blue-and-gray pattern — until someone realized the colors would make it harder to spot anyone who fell overboard,” the editorial board wrote.

Most of these topics are old news to Kitup! and readers, but the Chicago Tribune’s editorial and the Washington Post feature published on May 8 are the two latest examples that the Pentagon’s trouble in handling military combat uniforms has leaked into the public consciousness.

  • Casey

    I’ve been saying that man overboard problem since it came out. Also the problem if you got on to hostile shores and were the only 6 foot smurf in the area.

  • Eight different camo patterns is ridiculous. DoD should be raked over the calls for failing to supervise the fiscal waste and prima donnaship.

    • Old Major

      Eight patterns is not ridiculous. Your lack of knowledge of the types of vegetation and soil mixes around the world is ridiculous. The services have a predominate portion of the world assignment and the patterns and colors are important to make them harder to see when assigned to those areas. I’m a retired Marine and even the Air Force and Navy send people ashore and forward to perform vital combat and combat support missions. Where are you wasting money?

      • majr0d

        Maybe you are very old and out of touch and don’t realize different branches are wearing different uniforms and fighting next to each other. Yes, a seabee is wearing AOR2 (a woodland pattern) while building fighting positions at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan next to Marines in Desert MARPAT. While any Army troops on the other side of the base are wearing Multicam.

        To add insult to injury that sailor can’t wear AOR1 because the Marines didn’t want average sailers wearing a desert camo that might be confused for a Marine pattern. The Navy actually limited AOR1 to only the Naval Special Warfare community. It’s ridiculous.

        Did you not learn the Army, Marines, Navy & Air Force fight on the same ground next to each other? They should not be wearing different patterns.

        • gruntdoc

          Actually, every Seabee I’ve seen over here has been wearing AOR1.

  • lilgdad

    Love that comment, 6 foot smurf. Made me grin ear to ear just picturing it. Of course us NG types are getting mutlicam….soon..unless they change their mind.

  • fc2grimm

    I always find the “fall overboard – harder to see” comment funny. Before our digi-blues, sailors wore blue dungarees or blue coveralls – not a huge amount of color change. I never found the blue/gray digital color that bad. The uniforms were much more comfortable, easier to wear, easier to maintain, hid misc. spots better, and gave us a little more freedom of where we could wear them.

    • Moose

      I don’t disagree with any of that, but I’ve still yet to find a reason for the unis being “camoflague” that isn’t some form of “because it looks cool.”

      • ag119

        one of the reasons put out by the admiral in charge of it was “to hide paint stains.” Although 90% of what we deal with is white and green primer (most people painting deck/haze grey are BM and has painting coveralls issued).

    • shoe

      I agree, the “falling overboard” comments/arguments are lame — you’d think that sailors at sea make it a habit of falling overboard and are constantly having to be pulled from the water. Most ship’s can and do go an entire deployment without having anyone go overboard. And the majority of sailors that do fall overboard are usually walking off or on to the ship at pier side.

      Cammies are comfortable and durable.

  • USAF SSgt

    There is absolutely no reason all four services shouldn’t have the same camo color/utility uniform. The Air Force’s complete bungling of the ABUs, the miserable abortion of UCP are just ridiculous in the 21st century where we know what we need in camouflage combat uniforms. I particularly hate me ABUs, even with the recent addition of the summerweight versions. They have been a huge hindrance in every field scenario I’ve been in, both in garrison and deployed. We need to pick a usable camo pattern and pick a uniform that will be of some use in combat.



  • Martin M

    It’s clearly become a marketing/identity game with the different branches of the US military. While in the USAF, I always thought wearing camo was dumb. I left just as the tiger-stripe silliness was beginning. The last I checked there wasn’t much jungle to hide in on an Air Force base. I spent most of my time in Space Command, and professed we should be wearing black with white dots just to illustrate the absurdity of it all.

    Millions and millions wasted on a fashion show.

    • shawn1999

      I think its more for the Spec Forces & those attached to other units (Army/Marines) like Combat Air Controllers (I imagine there’s a Naval counterpart, not sure if the Marines pick their own or go with the Navy’s choice). However, in such cases, I would imagine that the best option would be to use the same camo pattern as the attached unit. Meaning all branches should follow either Army or Marine (ideally, they’d have the same) and all patterns should geo-centric to match the assigned terrain. Those who sit in offices all day (like the Gens and Ads) don’t need camo.

    • RDL

      Yes, I was in the Air Force when they switched to the first round of BDU’s. When I walked home from work (lived in base housing) I had all of these dogs following me, they thought that I was a walking tree.

      • Martin M

        I was amongst the last batch to get anything green and for a while, was mismatched in woodland and OD. I didn’t mind the woodland. Jungle tiger-stripe, however, seems obnoxious. Why not puffy clouds, or some crazy digital scheme like they Navy uses. Air Force and Navy camo is just silly for 99% of the force.

        The problem is the mentality that warfighters wear camo, and those two branches want to play Army/Marine instead of being the best Air Force and Navy in the world. It’s a top down problem.

  • Gqshire

    All these camo stories are just rugurgitating the same gripes. Until the new pattern is annouced, a paper doing an editorial isn’t news. The Marines plan to use MARPAT for another 10 years. I wonder what the projected life of the Army’s new pattern will be. The only real news will be if the Air Force rejects the Army’s selection.

  • Lance

    USAF never needed to stop using BDUs same for the navy, with huge stores in stock pile this would have save millions for other projects. How ever even for the Marines and Army we should dump digis and service only camo too. Overall keep woodland (81s) for America and Europe, 3 color desert for mid east and multicam forv everything else. Better solution than what we have now and cheaper.

  • roscoethehat

    Well now folks y’all need ta calm down a bit. Wont be too long now till everyone is wearing them pink camo too too’s. What with all them other changes a goin on it’ll be a ruckus over slippers, dippers, and camo pj’s. No need for a hulabaloo just yet, Wait till the guvment tries to match pinkoflage with UN Blue hats… Then you’ll have you a real complaint.. no fashion statement there at all.

  • Ken Badoian

    And the Navy’s cammies burn. It has been reported that at least 21 million dollars will be required to
    fix that mess. Bell bottom trousers and a suit of Navy blues, or cammies or what ever. I wonder who owns
    the contractor that manufactures the Navy’s cammies. The blue coveralls were a great fix. except they could not
    be worn ashore. The Coast Guard had an excellent working uniform why not just use that. Oh yea you ahve to be six feet tall to be a coastie. MMCS(SW)(SS) UNS Ret.

    • James Reynolds

      You aught to know shorty and x-coastie

  • fly

    There is of course some sentiment that good cammo hides broad hips and posteriors.

  • fly

    I recall seeing something much worse – that the military was looking at unisex trowsers with elastic

  • Rocky Lane Moore

    New uniforms keep the soldiers and sailors looking good. Also, technology is moving faster than the old soldier, so make way for young ideas that more readily reflect their generation. it keeps our enemies on their toes, because they have to absorb our changes, and its a great idea to have some differences in uniforms between services, which differ in function and history. Uniforms must eventually incorporate the new technoloties and not be stagnant or boring. Troops who get new uniforms or boots will thank congress and their chain of command, and it helps commanders look good when service men are sharp and fresh.

    • Michael852

      Give me a break. Thats the biggest load of Bull…t I have ever heard. The troops are just as embarrass as every buddy else about the money wasted on these uniform changes.

      • Rocky Lane Moore

        Money for uniforms is always well spent. I remember getting a new pair of Rocky Boots when I was assigned to the 7th ID. The soldier always benefits when they receive new uniforms which they do not have to pay for. The Officers will have to pay for new uniforms, so they will not like any kind of change and increase in personal expenditures. But give an enlisted service member new uniforms, and he will look better and feel better in the short run. So, my point is that free uniforms for young enlisteds is a good thing and worth the expense. The government can save on other items, but I say, spare no expense for the soldier’s personal equipment.


    The Navy has been whizzing away billions on uniforms for decades. Relatively stable until the 70s they suddenly went from needed updates to biweekly requests for new uniforms. Lately they have done everything they can to copy Marines even with their dress uniforms. Apparently sailors like being sailors as long as they are confused for Marines.

    Other services have also been changing uniforms too often as well and I agree that not every Marine, sailor, soldier or airmen needs to blend in with every terrain, clime and environment they encounter at any given time. Two base camos for woodland and desert should do it.

    Pick one and stick with it. Give the taxpayer a break.

    • James P

      I concur! The Navy will never admit it but they have an identity crisis. They’ve had one for over 200 years. Every time I turn around the Navy is looking to change its uniforms. They constantly try an emulate the Marines. Let’s face it, the Corps just gets it. Look at a Marine Corps formation. From the Commandant down to Private, every Marine is in the exact same uniform. Now lets look at the Navy, well, enough said. What a joke! Sailors look like like clowns. Oh I remember the days when so many E6 and below would be forced to wear their uniforms on overseas liberty. Once they got off the ship, they would be embarrassed to wear the uniform and sneak off somewhere to change. And they still do it! The Navy has no identity so they want to copy the Marines. How many uniform changes has the Navy had over the past 200 years. For crying out loud. And there is nothing worse than having a slob of a sailor with no pride trying to look like a Marine. Trust me. The Marines dislike the Navy trying to emulate them. For once and for
      all, Navy, find your OWN identity!

    • t. Dougherty

      I still say that the New Navy uniform was presented by an Academy grad who failed to qualify for the Marine Corps. Then his/her fat ass was put in charge of the Navy uniform appropriations and now we have the “I want to look like a Marine.” I was in the Navy when cracker jacks were first done away with and the chief’s uniform was issued then five years later I had to purchase a whole new seabag because they changed the dress uniform again then I retired and they started all over again. The morons in DC should have to go work in the spaces onboard ships and out in the field to ensure that these uniforms are any good. I wore dungarees and cammies and utilities in my 20 years and honestly still have most of them in the attic. I could not tell which one I detested the most. When I retired I burned all of my pseudo-cracker jacks (after the 30 year mark). I gave my cammies to my teenage children and promptly started wearing jeans and t-shirts again.

  • hmiche

    There are five branches of the US Armed forces… Not four

    • Josh

      technically USCG is not really a branch of the military. It’s a branch of home land security now.

      • D7Miami

        Actually, USCG is an armed military branch currently under the command of DHS UNTIL and act of war is declared. Then the USCG is transferred to DOD under the Secretary of Navy. Boom!

        • MDC

          The United States Coast Guard has never been DoD, but has always been military.

          • ChiefT

            Wrong, my whole 20 yrs the USCG was part of the DOT. But that was before DHS came along.

    • Gary Pitarellobis

      ?? mean the coasty patrol is actually a military branch?? You are all wanna be sailors…..

      GMCM Pitarellobis (Ret)

    • Gary

      The Marine Corps is actually a component of the Department of the US Navy, although it is considered a seperate branch of it’s own. Sound confusing? Hey, it’s the military.

  • Sam

    Must be a slow news day for Chicago.

    We all know UCP & ABU (Tiger Stripe) have been disasters. We get it. It was a flawed selection in the first place. We have to move on from this. I commend the Army for going through a selection process (again), but I hope they choose the best solution, not the cheapest or the one owned by the biggest campaign donor.

    Moving on, my biggest gripe will be the Soldiers being required to purchase multiple uniforms. I know, we (well, enlisted Soldiers) get uniform allowances, but still. Let’s get this done, and hopefully we can keep it for at least 10-20 years.

  • Jester1028

    Too many chiefs, less indians so to say…

  • Chris

    Reason the Navy camo is the color it is, not for blending into water, the purpose is so oils are harder to see, it is after all a “Navy Working Uniform” -NWU’s …. and uniforms need to be consistent through out the branch, the Navy DOES have ground combat personal whom wear camouflage, therefore all of them receive this uniform. Just like Army and Marines have positions that dont put personnel anywhere near the war zone ex. administration details and those members still wear the utility uniform of their branch.

  • galloglas

    Olive Drab Sateen for all, Blue Sateen for Navy. The Air Force needs to wear the same uniforms as Star Trek personnel.
    I’m planning on shorts and flip flops myself.

  • There’s always a problem with camo. When I served the base color was still olive drab even though it was quite obvious, at the time, that our next combat theater would very likely be in a desert environment. The best planning in the world simply cannot account for the unexpected outbreak of hostilities.

  • Robert G Robinson

    What was wrong with the old dungarees light blue shirt more comfortable. Can you imagine getting combat boots off in the water.

  • Iflyjets

    uniform insanity has no been limited to just “camos”. The air force once decided to go “Delta Airlines” with a new class A uniform requiring airline pilot stripes on the sleeve. Millions spent by DOD and individual officers only to have the whole thing scrapped by a new commander a year later (still waiting for my refund check :-).
    Let’s not leave out the flight suit. I think it was Gen Chain (I might be wrong) that required the leg pocket be deep enough to hide the flight cap, epaulets be added to the shoulder, and a freak’n PLEAT be sewn into the front of each leg. Each wearer of that monstrosity promptly removed the pleating and sewed down the epaulet! In the case of the Air Force…. they’ve always had an identity problem. Let’s go back to Pinks and Greens with 50 mission crush caps and be done with it!!! grin.

    • paul

      I like the pinks and greens idea

  • JBAR

    All said and done, this change is actually what is needed. It is to make up for the past mistakes of having so many different versions of camo. UCP was not the original camo proposed for adoption. The proposition was disgarded and UCP was selected. There is still no definitive reason given for the change. Most uniforms, and specifically the expensive protective gear, will still need to be replaced regardless of pattern. The Army conducted the new study. All military branches were notified by lawmakers to consider the results. The army will share the camo if desired. Every branch should go back to wearing the same uniform. For the Navy’s uniform, like others have stated, it was adopted for a few reasons: 1. to hide staining, grease, paint, etc. that is a daily factor and ends up costing Sailors tons of money for upkeep. 2. They are more durable. 3. They are more professional military uniforms. 4. The uniform’s pattern is the same as the USMC and Army’s UCPs. It was just a color change. Look into the amout spent deveoping each, and some are a lot cheaper than others.

  • liam

    Navy should go back to the dungarees and blue shirt….keep the ball caps….much better

    • oldsalt

      I’m with you Liam….seeing sailors on the bridge at sea wearing Cami’s is ridiculous…bring back the dungarees and blue shirt so our sailors look like sailors.

  • Glenn Adwell

    The Navy that I see on TV doesn’t look anything like when I served. Sad. Camos and dress uniforms are a disaster.


    Even after being retired almost 20 years, I still have dreams about showing up to duty in the wrong uniform.

  • Ranger Rick

    The Brits faced the same urgent operational requirement for a better camouflage for troops on deployment to Afghanistan. The woodland pattern wasn’t working so well. For far less money, and in much less time, the Brits settled on a pattern very similar to Multicam. They have since issued it across all branches of their services. Every British soldier – Army, Navy, Air Force, or Royal Marines on deployment to a combat zone gets the multicam uniform.

    I agree with many of the comments thus far. It’s become a source of branding. I say get on with it, and give every American serviceman the same camouflage for deployment to areas of conflict. And stop wasting money on something that’s not rocket science!

    • FL5001

      MTP is general issue, it hasn’t been regional issue pattern for ages now as the MTP S95 that was being issued for Herrick has been replaced with PCS. The MOD however have only just started issue the new brown boots after sitting on it for a year. Black boots look absolutely gash. Why they don’t just issue desert boots escapes me.

      I can understand the DOD wanting to establish a new visual identity with American troops, as every tin pot nation in the world was wearing M81 or DCUs. However after spending a fortune on development and issue, every tin pot nation now issues knock-off Multicam or MARPAT, and with PASGT or ACH.

  • FL5001

    Technically the editorial is wrong in saying 10 camo patterns as it’s actually 12 if you include the two for operating in snow.

  • MDC

    Five services. Not just four.

  • Steve

    There seems to be a misunderstanding that nobody in the Air Force performs ground combat-related duties. During my 20 years in the Air Force, I spent 6 years in mobility units where we not only performed our primary duties, but we had no assigned security other than ourselves when we were off our equipment rack or out from under our vehicle for repairs. We were our own security, that trained with the Army, and who deployed with the Army at certain times. I agree that most of the Air Force would stay nestled comfortably on their very well protected base, but for the TACP and FAC squadrons, as well as Combat Controllers and Air Force Special Ops, we absolutely needed to be camouflaged as best as possible.

    • Geodkyt

      Steve, the problem with the ABUs is not that they are a camouflage unifrom. The problem is that they are an expensive camouflage pattern uniform that provides no camouflage, which is why the guys in USAF who really need camouflage don’t wear it.



  • ralph a mullins

    As a twenty year retiree of the Army, I have my ideas, too. All work/combat uniforms of all branches should be the same. The caps should distinctive of a branch. The dress uniform should be the traditional dress jacket of that branch, worn with the combat uniform trousers, and boots. Low quarters are waste of money. A tie should not be required at all. All the friggin field gear issued temporarily (TA50) by the unit is a waste.

  • So what should those of us in the Air Force and Navy wear if not a utility type of uniform? Maybe we could wear our blues while working on the flight line or erecting tents.

    • Geodkyt

      No one is saying the USAF and Navy shouldn’t have utility uniforms. The issue is, why pay extra money for “camouflage pattern” (and yes, it DOES cost more to print camo pattern fabric) when the “camouflage” is nonfunctional and solely for esthetic reasons?

      For any duties that require camouflage, all services should be using the same pattern in the same area of operations. For duties that do not require camouflage, issue a solid color utility uniform (which is cheaper) unless there is a realistic chance that job might need to hide from the enemy in a war situation. For example, guys working in the galley or the egineering spaces aboard a Navy ship.

      The Navy could have gotten more bang for their buck by just adopting the USCG ODU (the SWAT team blue BDUs they wear with full color insignia) and issuing a uniform regulation that normal staining IS NOT an inspectable gig on an otherwise serviceable utility uniform. Issue _real_ camo to those guys in the Navy who are expected to do shore duty in hostile environments.

  • Dscott

    Let the Marine Corps be in charge of the new uniform. They are the only service that is cost-effective and know how to stick with what works. Plus if the Army or another branch designs it, Marines will have to live with silly attachments like bungee cords sticking out of pockets and permanant glow belts. The Marines want to hold the Corps to a high standard and letting other branches that don’t care so much about uniform standards or affordability develop it is a problem. The MARPAT pattern is time-tested and already in-stock and has won many award for functionality. The USMC has a proven uniform expertise and is willing to share with the other services. We will soon see that no matter what pattern the other services come up with, it will prove to be controversial and prone to complaints from all sectors.

    • Geodkyt

      “The USMC has a proven uniform expertise and is willing to share with the other services.”

      Unfortunately, that’s not only 100% false, but it’s what started the Camo Wars to begin with.

      When the Marines copied CADPAT, the Army went to them and asked if they could use the same camo pattern. The Army was even talking about adopting the same cut as the new MARPAT uniforms. They would have removed the EGA from US Army runs of the fabric, but that’s it.

      The Marines told them to go pound sand. “NO, DOGGIES, Only Devil Dogs are good enough to wear our color-shifted Canadian camouflage! Even though it’s better than M81 Woodland, will save lives in combat, and we’re talking about fellow American warfighters, you can’t wear it!”

      • Geodkyt

        The Navy asked if THEY could issue it for shore duty in hostile AOs, as fellow members of the Naval Service.

        The Marines told them to go pound sand. “NO, POPEYE, Only Devil Dogs are good enough to wear our color-shifted Canadian camouflage! Even though it’s better than M81 Woodland, will save lives in combat, and we’re talking about fellow American warfighters you can’t wear it! Although, we’ll let Corpsmen and Chaplains assigned to USMC units can wear it so our formations don’t look stupid, not even US Navy personnel working side by side with Marines (like SeaBees) in Marine firebases are allowed to wear it!”

        The Navy developed a pattern that was basically MARPAT without the EGA. “Can we wear THIS?”

        The Marines told them to go pound sand, although they are willing to allow certain exceptions. With arcane rules that are MIND-BOGGLING, such as rules that have resulted from time to time in requiring sailors to wear MARPAT Wooded in the desert, IN A COMBAT ZONE, when working near Marines in MARPAT Arid, so they don’t get “mistaken” for Marines at a distance.

        • Geodkyt

          Frankly, if the Marine Corps hadn’t insisted on being a group of whiny prima donna, Blue Falcon, Special Snowflakes, all of the services would have adopted MARPAT (without the EGA) ten years ago, including the uniform design.

          Accordingly, the Marine Corps has ZERO credibility on this issue. They’d rather let other Americans die in less-effective camouflage patterns than allow anyone to wear THEIR pattern of combat uniforms, even with all USMC insignia removed. What next, refusing to allow wounded Army soldiers on Marine helos because they might bleed on the “Devil Dog” Hueys?

  • Paul

    The oversight people have been asleep at the wheel for some time now. The question is simple. Why do Sailors,Soldiers,Airman and Marines all need a different cammo pattern when they are all assigned to the same base in Iraq or Afghanistan? The answer is they don’t. All we have done is make some manufacturers extreemly wealthy off government contracts. OD Green was good enough for everyone for years. Maybe we should go back to that for garrison and find one design only for deployments.