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 Military.com 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.

36 Comments on "Chicago Tribune Slams Pentagon on Camouflage"

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. USAF SSgt | June 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

    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.

  6. MARINEPATRIOT | June 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm |

    THE ARMY,NEEDS A NEW PATTERN,WOW THERE IS MONEY IN THE BUDGET TO RE-CLOTH EVERY SOLDIER?? YET THEY ARE THROWING OUT MEN AND WOMEN ON A DAILY BASIS FOR THE SLIGHTEST INFRINGEMENTS, THE ARY NEEDS A NEW PATTERN WHILE THE MARINES IN AFGANHISTAN ARE HAVING A HOT MEAL REMOVED FROM THEIR DIETS.IMAGINE THAT.!!!!! WHEN WILL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WAKE UP.?? AND GET THE TRAITORS TO OUR REPUBLIC OUT OF OFFICE AND INTO A CELL OF THEIR OWN THEN THEY CAN REDECORATE THAT WHENEVER THEY WISH.!!!!!!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. roscoethehat | June 4, 2013 at 3:35 am |

    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.

  11. Ken Badoian | June 4, 2013 at 8:23 am |

    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.

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

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

  14. Rocky Lane Moore | June 4, 2013 at 11:54 am |

    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.

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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.

  18. Jester1028 | June 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

    Too many chiefs, less indians so to say…

  19. 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.

  20. galloglas | June 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm |

    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.

  21. 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.

  22. Robert G Robinson | June 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

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

  26. Glenn Adwell | June 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm |

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

  27. MAJ, USA, RET | June 4, 2013 at 9:20 pm |

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

  28. Ranger Rick | June 5, 2013 at 1:50 am |

    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!

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

  30. Five services. Not just four.

  31. 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.

  32. DARTH VADER | June 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

    WHEN DISCIPLINED STOPPED N THE MILITARY, SO DID EVRRYTHING ELSE. THE MILITARY IS NOT ABOUT TRADITION ANYMORE, ITS ABOUT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND MAKING EVERYONE HAPPY. I HAVE BEEN SERVING N THE ARMY FOR 23 YEARS. I AM A SCREAMING EAGLE AND VERY PROUD. I SEE MY BROTHERS PORTRAYED ON TV AND N MOVIES. THEY ARE DISCIPLINED, ACT AS A TEAM, TAKE CARE OF THEIR SOLDIERS AND LOOK LIKE SOLDIERS N THE GEN. MACARTHUR (PINKS AND GREENS) . I NEVER GOT TO VOTE ON OUR NEW BLUES (MALL COP UNIFORMS)! HOWEVER, WE ALL HAVE TO LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE OF THE LACK OF LEADERSHIP AND HOW OUT OF TIUCH THESE

  33. ralph a mullins | June 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm |

    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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

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