Lawmakers Want Flame-Resistant Gear for All troops

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brian Keen, Infantry Automatic Rifleman (IAR) with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit(MEU), fires his IAR during a squad competition for exercise Talisman Saber 13 at Sam Hill, in Shoalwater Bay, Queensland, Australia, on July 29, 2013. Talisman Saber is a bilateral training exercise that the 31st MEU and the Royal Australian military conduct every two years to improve interoperability and common relations between the two allied nations. (USMC photo by LCpl T.S. Dietrich, 31st MEU Combat Camera)U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brian Keen, Infantry Automatic Rifleman (IAR) with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit(MEU), fires his IAR during a squad competition for exercise Talisman Saber 13 at Sam Hill, in Shoalwater Bay, Queensland, Australia, on July 29, 2013. Talisman Saber is a bilateral training exercise that the 31st MEU and the Royal Australian military conduct every two years to improve interoperability and common relations between the two allied nations. (USMC photo by LCpl T.S. Dietrich, 31st MEU Combat Camera)

Members of Congress are asking leaders of all the military branches to update them on efforts to get better and cheaper flame-resistant uniforms to more members.

Within the draft of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act prepared by the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee is a provision calling for a report on development of flame-resistant technologies. Two years ago, under then-chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the committee asked for a similar report.

“The committee noted that distribution of flame-resistant uniforms is limited to military units that are preparing to deploy to contingency operations, are currently deployed in contingency operations, and to those serving in certain military occupational specialties,” the bill reads.

Since then, it notes, the Army and the Marine Corps have conducted their own studies and have started to look at commercial off-the-shelf products to use “in varying degrees of [flame-resistant] protection.”

The committee wrote that it encouraged all the service branches to consider setting flame-resistant uniform “protective postures” that would dictate when to wear the gear based on an assessment of threats and the environment.

The secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the commandant of the Marine Corps are directed to provide a joint briefing to the House Armed Services Committee by August 15, 2016 to outline their plan to do so and discuss costs involved to outfit all military personnel with flame-resistant uniforms.

The NDAA is still in the draft phases; a committee-wide markup is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

About the Author

Hope Hodge Seck
Hope Hodge Seck is a reporter at Military.com. She can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.