Hagel: Military Must Restrict Service Specific Gear, Uniforms

Hagel UniformityDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the days of designing service specific camouflage patterns and plate carriers are over. The Defense Department just can’t afford it anymore.

A soldier at Fort Bragg, N.C., asked the defense secretary if standard issue will apply across the services during one of Hagel’s stops during his trip along the East Coast last week. Hagel’s answer was simple and to the point.

“Yes … we’re being forced to.” What’s forcing the Defense Department’s hand is sequestration and the resulting reductions to the defense budget.

Congress has already written language restricting the services from designing their own camouflage patterns unless it could be used across the military. Committee members voted 32-20 to require the services to settle on a joint combat uniform by 2018 and restrict the creation of any new camouflage patterns unless it’s designed for a joint uniform.

Services officials will also have to combine pools of funding in order to start and execute new weapons programs. Budget cuts have put almost every modernization program in jeopardy. Smaller budgets have forced service leaders to get creative and find ways to combine programs with other services in order to have access to more funds.

U.S. Army officials had been ready to announce the Army Combat Uniform until the legislation was released in the defense budget. Now, the Army is seemingly on a pause as leaders wait to review the rules and see the effects from Congress.

However, Hagel said the old ways of doing business are over as it looks likely that sequestration and the $500 billion in cuts over the next ten years are here to stay.

“We’re going to be forced to change things,” Hagel said at Fort Bragg. “The fact is every program in the Defense Department is accountable. We’re going to be changing business about how we do a lot of things.”

  • Axel

    Wow, never though I’d see this day

  • Fritzthedog

    Good luck with that…

  • Lance

    Then MARPAT for everyone then!!!!!!

    • Greg

      More like AOR.

      • Armavirumqu3can0

        Whichever one is cheaper (AOR or MARPAT) to produce should be chosen. I just hope we don’t refit our entire military with a completely new uniform(like US4CES which would cost a big chunk o pocket change). That would be a waist of resources and money… and we are currently short on both.

        • majr0d

          Not necessarily if the uniforms is adopted as old uniforms wear out. Then there’s no increase to gov’t costs.

          • Marc

            But that displeases Sergeants Major and Master Chiefs because there is no uniformity….

          • majr0d

            Probably, not worried about making them happy though. Totally empathize with the BS factor though. They can have their once a week every one look the same formation as the force makes the transition. If nothing else keep the current issued uniforms for those days.

            We’ve transitioned uniforms a couple of times over the last 30 years..

        • FL5001

          No. You pick a new camouflage uniform for it’s effectiveness, not because of the low cost. Why do you think the DOD and USA are in this position? They went for cheap, and signed off on UCP which had terrible performance scores in testing. AOR1 and AOR2 are more effective than MARPAT. US4CES (all three variants) are more effective than both in day,night/IR testing.

          As for cost, that depends on how much the licence costs. I guarantee you it will be less than you imagine. Further cost cuts are easy. For instance, if all contracts for MOLLE gear/plate carriers etc were in coyote brown for all services, it would technically reduce cost even if you are issuing a new uniform. CB isn’t copyrighted, so you would pay nothing to Crye/Hyperstealth/whoever won the uniform contract for using the licence again. Plus bigger contracts tend to reduce prices, at least on the non-green side of the fence anyway.

      • Adam

        AOR is simply an older variation of MARPAT without the Marine Corps Emblem incorporated. NAVSPECWAR employs AOR 1 and 2.

        If its good enough for the high speed guys who are worth millions it should be good enough for everyone else IMO.

        An example of AOR

        • BigJ

          Actually, AOR’s colors blend in their respective environments superior to MARPAT.

        • FL5001

          AOR is vertical, different colors and the USN emblem throughout. NSW wear whatever fits their mission. Or did you mean only NSW can wear AOR1? Any squid can wear AOR2. The USMC weren’t bothered about AOR2 as the difference in pattern is clear and nobody could be mistaken for a Marine unlike AOR1.

    • John

      MARPAT has the USMC logo in it. While its effective, the print would have to be changed so might as well use whatever won the Army’s competition.

    • majr0d

      AOR has tested most effective short of the patterns that the Army is looking at. Those results haven’t been released but whatever they are they are the most tested in history and were tested against AOR.

    • Virgil_Hilts

      Lance! You beat me to it! MARPAT RULES!

  • Marc

    I’m good with how “restricting the services from designing their own camouflage patterns” briefs, but am very leery of the ‘just as good as’ mentality; that flawed thinking is how Blackhawk, VooDoo and Fobus stay in business.

    What works for an Airman might not work for a Marine; likewise a Seaman doesn’t need what a Soldier needs.

    This is missing the big disclaimer – DOES NOT APPLY TO SPECIAL OPERATIONS (or those who THINK they are).

    • Ryan

      What was wrong with the different branches sharing the DCU and woodland BDUs? MARPAT and AOR patterns have been the only branch specific patterns that have been a step up, everything else has just been a step backwards so the respective branches can have an ‘identity’. If the different branches are working in the same environment, why would they have different requirements? Yeah, a liney at Bagram seeing jets off might not NEED to wear the same combat uniform as an 11B out at a FOB but there is also no need to have a completely different uniform for them when the combat uniform does the job. Other militaries around the world manage to share uniforms and equipment between branches, so why can’t the US military?

      • Marc

        Because they will not produce a uniform for what the combat troops need when it has features and costs that everyone else doesn’t need; they will develop it for the masses and make everyone adapt to the lowest common denominator.

        If what you say is true, why haven’t we just adopted the Crye Multicam uniform and moved on??? If its good enough for Special Operations, then everyone else should be good, right?!?

        • majr0d

          Examples of how equipment is designed for the lowest common denominator would help your case. Haven’t seen it with helmets, boots, bayonets or uniforms.

          SOF is not using multicam. NSW is using AOR, Army SF uses a variety of camo to include multicam. Marine MARSOC has been seen using woodland.

          • Marc

            You do realize a lot of the differences are just semantics (like the helmets) and/or generational improvements, right? Others (like the bayonet) represent more useful improvements. The M9 is bigger and slightly more useful than the M7, the Ontario is very similar to the Kabar (continuity/familiarity and better suited to other uses than the M9).

          • majr0d

            Marc the helmet differences are more than just semantics. Check out the suspension system inside the helmet. The size is also different and the Marine helmets are heavier They look the same to someone that hasn’t seen both or knows what to look for. The Marines were also using the M9 bayonet. It just wasn’t a switch from the M7.

            BTW, the M9 is MUCH more useful than the M7. Used them both.

          • FL5001

            MARSOC have used M81 woodland to blend in with the ANA, not with the physical environment. Look around and you’ll find pictures of blokes wearing digital pattern ANA uniforms as well, from all branches including USMC.

          • majr0d

            FL5001 – understand SOF wears different uniforms, numerous ones. My point was SOF just doesn’t wear crye multicam and the logic that we should just issue that.

            Since we are on the subject. Only certain units in the ANA wear woodland and it’s in change. I have no problem SOF wearing different uniforms even to just blend with the locals but often they wear different uniforms just to be different whether it’s admitted or not. The fashion show thought process runs strong and deep.

    • Then I say design the best camouflage pattern based on the needs of the door kickers, and issue it to everyone. better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it.

  • Robert Everhart

    One size doesen’t fit all.

  • thebronze

    This is what happens when you let a Specialist run the DoD…

    • GoFourGold

      He wasn’t a specialist. You silver spoon ROTC baby. You rate a salute because there are better men out there to do the harder job while you read a book and sip on some coffee. Keep your useless two cents for paying back daddy for putting you through college, damn cadet…

    • Catzmaw

      He’s a combat wounded, decorated, former non-com, and his sense of what is and isn’t good for troops in the field is probably a lot better than yours.

    • straps

      As opposed to the former Navy O-6 who was run out of town back in ’06…

    • Joe Potter

      We wouldn’t need to ‘cut’ $500,000 from the military due to “Sequestration”, if the Commander-in-Chief and his armada of aircraft, friends and supporters, press, First Lady, Secret Service, special cars, daughters simply stop their ‘exotic vacations’ and stick to Camp David.

  • moondawg

    It works for Canada. They don’t even have separate services.

    • qwedie

      Canada; lol

      • TheCdn

        You know what buddy, laugh all you want, we have a proven track record in every major conflict. Ask any of our allies who’ve actually worked with us, and aren’t just some dumb hillbilly with his head in the the dirt who probably couldn’t locate Canada on the map.

        As to the uniform, the way we do it up here, is different berets and tshirt colours for air force, navy and army. Army = green, Navy = black, Air force = AF blue.

    • SomeCanuck

      Not true.
      The Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force *are* separate branches, of the Canadian Forces. Same thing as the US having 5 branches of their Armed Forces. (Ok…USMC is part of the USN, and USGC is under DHS…)
      But in general, yep, a single camo patten works up here…when it’s available in your size and you don’t have to ‘share’, that is. And there are growing pains…the combat sombrero, for instance, IMHO needs the brim size to be readdressed!

      • Riceball

        The US Marine Corps is NOT a part of the Navy, we’re an independent branch of the service under the Department of the Navy. While it sounds a lot like the same thing it is not, the main difference being that the Commandant of the Marine Corps does not report to the Chief of Naval Operations as he would if the Corps were part of the Navy, instead he reports directly to the SecNav just like the CNO does.

        • SomeCanuck

          My apologies…no offense intended. You’ve got a Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force, each with a Secretary. 3 subordinate military departments to the DoD…hence my confusion about hierarchies. As penance for my error I promise to donate an extra dessert the next time I swap an IMP for an MRE.

    • soupy264

      Canada went back to separate branches.

    • Juan All

      AMEN nuff said

  • Stormcharger

    If it gets rid of the Navy camo pattern, how is it possibly a bad thing?

    • Ryan

      Get rid of the Air Force camo too and watch how much money they save

      • dwezl

        amen bro….

    • SomeCanuck

      I think the primary rationale behind USN camo was to ensure that paint, grease, and other stains weren’t readily apparent on the uniform.
      Being able to wear a perfectly good uniform that happened to have a permanent stain, rather than having to replace it, makes sense to the wallet of your average sailor.
      Having a uniform that would make it extremely difficult to visibly pick you out of rough water if you fell overboard…well, that doesn’t make sense.

  • Charley

    After I read this, i go to National Defense magazine online and read about the Marines paying someone to design and build new airfield crash rescue vehicles. I suspect the other three services have these too.

  • Charley

    My simple solution are different color t-shirts. The Marines can wear dark blue, or dark red.

  • majr0d

    About time.

    There’s no reason troops fighting the same enemy in the same theatre need different combat uniforms.

    The same can be said for different helmets, body armor, bayonets and boots.

    All this “uniqueness” does is drive up costs because equipment/uniforms are bought in smaller more expensive batches not to mention the cost of multiple project development teams and efforts. This will annoy the gearheads and tacticool types but it makes sense.

    • Bob

      I think when you’re buying tens of thousands of things at a time that greater quantity isn’t going to yield that much of a break on prices.

      • majr0d

        I can tell you from experience it does. Then there’s the ability to cross level equipment when the need arises.

        • Not to mention the logistics of AF, Army, Navy and Marine Corps uniforms and equipment in the AOR.

    • spot

      The reason for camo is to make one blend -in with your surroundings. Now think (I know that will be hard for you) a guy in the navy needs to blend in with the water, a soldier in the desert would need to blend in with the sand, a special ops person might have to blend in with a forest. You’re funny and you must be a bean counter with no experience in the field. They should make you bean counters wear this one size fits all uniform in combat. I bet you would think twice before open your mouths!!!!!!! Want to bet?

      • majr0d

        Spot – Thanks for the advice. I suggest you go looking for your owner though. Show him your typing skills. He’ll make a mint. Watch out Letterman another cool pet trick!

        Yes, I’m familiar with camo served in the Infantry for two decades and have been in combat. You probably don’t know that SOF and Marines were fighting in the same place quite often. Just to be clear I’m not against camo uniforms though camo should be something you do not only something you buy. You may want to check out my articles over on SOFREP.com you might learn something though I don’t know why a dog would need a camo uniform.

        BTW, be happy to bet but I don’t need any kibbles and bits or rawhide bones. :)

      • A guy in the Navy doesn’t necessarily want to blend in with the water you go overboard and they never find you. The ships are gray or shades there of to make the ships less visible. A universal camouflage that can be tailored to different environments is best, unless you want to keep up 8 sets of uniforms like the old BDU / DCU days.

    • soupy264

      Maybe Hagel can now insist that Base Commanders end the needless cost to enlisted members of forcing them to have all pockets sewn closed, in the foolish need of proper visual appearance.
      The DOD pays for 10 pockets on a BDU, then some egomaniac with a bird or star on his shoulder says they need to be sewn closed, to give proper respect to the USA.
      While in Desert Storm in ’91 the group I was with were the only ones in the desert in European Green Camos., because of the cost. The only people wearing Desert Camos., were the guys in the Pilot Sqn., who only came out in the open for lunch and going to the tents

      • majr0d

        In 24 years of wearing the uniform I never heard of a commander ordering pockets to be sewn close.

        You were not the only one in green woodland uniforms. I served as an Infantry officer in 3-5 Cav of the 3rd Armored Division and fought against elements of three different Iraqi divisions to include the Tawalkana Republican Guard in woodland uniforms as did the majority of my infantry battalion. It wasn’t because of money. There weren’t enough to go around. I always wondered why airmen on an airfield would be issued desert camo before the front line infantry.

  • wclardy

    If they want to save money, the Velcro patches and zippers (versus thread and buttons) add more to the lifetime costs than the pattern does.

  • Juanito Grande

    Makes too much sense to be true. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • TrenchDoc18D

    We’ll see how this works out for everyone.

  • thehaggis

    Holy crap! Logic is being used!

  • Roger

    The only thing different should be the printing, as the cloth type, pocket locations, etc. should be the same. The manufacturer should have everything set for different printing already, so there should be no additional cost.

    • majr0d

      Different printing means different production runs vs. printing/stockpiling common patterns. No reason for different branches fighting the same enemy in the same place to have different patterns. It’s combat not a fashion show.

  • Sgt. D

    I don’t think it’s as big of a deal for the Marine Corps. They used their own budget to create their own pattern and it’s worked well for them. The problem seems to be with Big Army. Their changes and failures COST BIG TIME. I’m ok with branches having different Camo. No big deal I say.

    • majr0d

      We have half a century of experience of shared patterns. Different patterns because of copyrighting and refusing to share patterns has caused EIGHT different patterns. There’s a cost to developing, fielding and stocking multiple patterns. Ego isn’t worth that much. Dress uniforms distinguish the branches and in the field a name tape was good enough from WWII to 2001.

      There’s a lesson there.

      • Also it suggest a divided force….I thought it was one team one fight.

        • majr0d

          In a time of so much partisanship, discord and division. The need for harmony among the services takes on special importance.

          One Team One Fight … Truly!

  • Quicksaber

    WOW we are going back to the late 80’s early 90’s.

    • Marc

      Just changing the uniform doesn’t bring back the good ole times of morale, fieldcraft, discipline, and professionalism lost over the last 10-15 years (remember Shinseki’s black beret fiasco?).

    • majr0d

      Going back isn’t always a bad thing. We didn’t have camo fiascoes when we shared uniform patterns.

      There’s a HUGE lesson there…

      • Marc

        The military is a different place than it was 20 years ago, based on a different society and values, led by a different government mentality.

        You’ve taken a big interest in this topic, what’s up?

        • majr0d

          In some way the military has changed. Some is not for the better. I empathize with today’s troops that have to deal with uber PCism. Efficiency is timeless

          Why shouldn’t I care? Have I said something that makes you feel guilty? I’ve commented plenty on Camo and common gear.

  • Harry Kuheim

    A lame swipe at Sequestration again…it’s a 2.5% reduction in a guaranteed INCREASE of 6%-8%…we still spend MORE than last year and the year before that…Obama still has no problem spending $100 Million on a trip to Africa…How many Uniforms could have been made for $100 Million?

    • jeff

      Exactly. It does make sense to use the same camo across the board but to try and blame that on sequestration is only a political game.

      • majr0d

        good points

    • gregpasq

      Give it a rest. Obama isn’t the first president or will he be the last to take a trip to Africa. I don’t think we need to get into how many trips certain other presidents made….

      • FL5001

        They didn’t do it when the economy was deep in the *hitter though. Big difference. And what was to be gained by the CONUS on his visit?

  • Armavirumqu3can0

    SNAFU… all of it

  • OCCD

    Robert McNamara did the same thing in the 60’s. Back when there was no sequestration and we had a huge defense budget. Something called Vietnam was going on as well as the cold war. Everything worked out OK. We made do with the OD fatigues and black boots.

    • majr0d

      one of the few things McNamara got right.

    • TheCdn

      Up here we’re still waiting for brown boots to replace black ones (supposedly this coming year)

      And we didnt get camo uniforms (aka we were still using OD) until early 2000’s

    • Marc

      That’s why camouflage uniforms were acquired in country and ERDL camouflage was developed and issued towards the end of the conflict!?! No, because it was identified that camouflage uniforms were considered important. And it’s also why jungle boots were developed and issued through several generations as improvements were made.

  • Whatsthepatchfor

    If this happens, will soldiers still ruin it by wearing 50 different patches at the same time?

  • DMR10

    Oh yeah they’re going to stop critiquing the plate carriers and armor for the infantry but all of those orders for new plate carriers for women are still shipping out as if women are still going to be filling the ranks in the infantry anytime soon, god I hate these liberal idiots

  • neal99

    Gee no more blue camo’s for the NAvy. Darn. What is going to happen to the millions of dollars the Army I spending for new BDU’s which by the way the project is being overseen by non the less a General officer.

    • Tom

      English Motherfucker! Do you Speak it!?

  • Joe Byden

    One-piece rainbow decorated spand-o-flage!

  • Allwet

    Smoke and mirrors…..sequestration is to keep everyone in the dark while they chop every thing but the congressional pension plan, raises in salary and benefits for the very thieves that put us in this position in the first place.
    Roger lose the smurfing camo; What the f##k where they thinking? Does keep em safe(man overboard) from rescue at sea though…

  • Rosalee

    YES we will all wear same uniform……………….no distinction save for
    the insignia…………….
    Great idea….
    (((rolls eyes)))))
    AND while we are at it how about a unisex uniform?

  • 504thABG

    One camo uniform fits all should be no problem with 3-D printers. The cost to print each service camo’s will be the same. So let each service have its own design.

    • majr0d

      Do you know what a 3D printer is?

      How is printing multiple patterns the same cost as common patterns? You’ve ignored the effort, resources & management necessary to print multiple patterns.

    • Allan Hamilton

      3D printers “print” three dimensional objects by layering the medium in a method similar to applying ink to the face of a sheet of paper with each pass of the printhead building up on the previous pass. In the case of textile printers, these are strictly 2-D and actually do print like a paper printer. Given similar ink coverage and density for each pattern, the cost would be nearly identical between designs. The cost is not in the weave and it’s not in the digital file that describes the pattern. It’s in the amount of ink used over a given area. Color changes to a pattern should not affect cost – only a change to a pattern that used more ink would cost more.

  • Esteban

    Who’s the clown in the pic on the left with the finger issue?

  • James

    Why don’t they just do the same basic patterns for woodland and desert but print a specific pattern for any AOR we go to. Similar to the ACU to Multicam usage in OEF.

  • Brian

    They need to end all the different research laboratories within the DoD. The AFRL, NRL and the ARL’s won’t work with each other. The amount of tax dollars wasted is shocking.

  • Stefan s.

    Thinking General Washington was wrong in letting civilians run our military! Hagel is a GD putz! If republicans had spines he wouldn’t be an Obozo mouthpiece! Sequester my ass! Make Obozo and Moosechelle fly coach!

  • Sherman

    I would not mind wearing the same thing as other branches but I would like to see the buttons come back, also the new uniforms could be designed a little different so that pockets ect… could identify the branch. Different undershirts might not be a bad idea either. Marine=green Army=tan Navy=blue Air Force=grey. It would be cheaper to change the shirt color though.

  • CharlieHeat

    Here we go! UCP/ACU for Everyone!! Feel my pain!!!!

  • Jeffrey h. Doran

    seems a little suspect that Hagel would use the “sequestration ” as a cause and not mention that as the persons serving the military got furloughs as Congress voted to give them selves raises and then went on their Vacations as our country spirlaled into more debt. Wow do I feel safe and represented!

  • Capt. Rick

    In the Nam Era we all had the same Utility Uniform but the Navy, ALL GREEN. When I went from the Air Force to the Army all I needed to do was change belt, name tape, and patches. When I went back to the Air Force I received the Green Camo pattern that the Army had. It worked for so long why not do it again

  • deade

    What a piece of shit….I have no words for how big of a fucking worthless douche Hagel is

  • Craigous

    About the photo with this article..E4 mafia lolol

  • John D

    We all wore BDUs for a long time and the world was right! I still cannot visualize all four services wearing their unique camo on the same pice of earth and all work! MARPAT is in the system and works, I would like to see the Khakis brought back for the army class B instead of the blues nonsense. They are in the system and are very serviceable for daily use instead of a white shirt and blues pants!