31AUG09 Uniform Issues...

The Marines started it by making digital fatigues... They wanted to be different, again, even at the expense of not being able to blend in with the Army in a Joint Environment. They have a great pattern, and they blend into the environment well; however, you'll be able spot the Marines from the Soldiers easily. If you are a sniper intent on killing Marines, you'll be able to pick targets better...

Then the Army got their ACU's online. Those of us working with the 172nd SBCT were issued these for our deployment during a Rapid Fielding Initiative in FEB 2005 (described here briefly) only to have the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force get angry about "His Airmen wearing an Army uniform". This almost resulted in us deploying in DCU's while our Army counterparts were wearing ACU's (an old Sesame Street song comes to mind "One of these is not like the other." and if you have a radio on your back on top of that you scream 'I'm IMPORTANT, just shoot me Mr. Sniper').

Finally, the Air Force now forces all Airmen to wear the Airman Barracks Uniform, I mean Airman Battle Uniform or ABU. Tiger Stripe Products designed some good ones, but ended up designing that crappy one we all see today (Tiger Stripe Products page). What galls me about the ABU? Well here is the apology of the folks who engineered it:

"Airman Battle Uniform... an advanced BATTLE uniform?

Note to the ranks: When we started the uniform project in 2002, USAF Leadership informed us that 97% of AF personnel did not need a battle uniform but rather a barracks utility work uniform. Leadership ultimately received exactly what they asked for. The resulting uniform is that barracks utility work uniform.

The name actually does apply if one takes into consideration the battle activity that USAF Leadership says is the mission of the majority of today's Air Force. As determined by USAF Leadership, advanced Battle features like easy entry slanted chest, arm, and leg cargo pockets, elbow and knee padding pockets, improved neck closure to keep debris out and to protect from body armor, gusseted shoulders for ease of movement, and most importantly... an authentic Battle ready advanced pixilated Tiger Stripe pattern and colorway are not needed for the 21st century U.S. Air Force.

Besides making the connection between the Air Force and the pattern; why is blue one of the pattern colors? Besides the sky or ocean, how often does the color blue occur in deserts, forests, jungles, or urban settings? This uniform does not seem to fit the definition of an advanced battle uniform. This is evidently a new style of battle uniform.

We're sorry. We wished we had the opportunity to give you an authentic battle uniform with all the relevant features plus an effective camouflage design. At the very least you could have had a uniform with a State-of-the-Art pixilated Tiger Stripe pattern and colorway unlike what was chosen.

The men and women of the Air Force have our undying support for the difficult jobs that you all perform for our country. Is this new adopted camouflage and uniform design an Airman Battle Uniform or an Airman Barracks Uniform? Maybe it's just according to your own definition. Judge for yourself."

Finally, our troops in Afghanistan have found the ACU pattern lacking and are in dire need of a better pattern (Multi-Cam...). So it seems we are back to where we were decades ago. History repeats itself. DoD really just needs to accept the fact that several camouflage patterns will be needed for varying environments (until the day comes and we can build 'chameleon' cloth suits or cloaking devices...). That and for a joint fighting environment, DoD should come down to decide on what that pattern will be. If the Marines want to stick an Eagle Globe and Anchor on that, fine; if the Army wants to throw on brigade and division patches, fine; if the Air Force wants strips on the sleeves, that should work; and if the Navy SeaBees put their symbol on it, that shouldn't be an issue. So long as the enemy snipers will have a lot more trouble identifying the US Air Force TACP from the Soldiers he is with that will be enough for a field uniform. Along with DoD accepting that, Generals and Senior Enlisted members (like the former CMSgt of the Air Force Murray) need to shove their inter-service rivalry attitudes to the side and fight a joint fight.

One Team, One Fight; should include one uniform. Downrange we are far too intermixed to have four different uniforms on... BDU's and ACU's simplified matters of logistics incredibly. Now its muddled once again. Especially since the Air Force decided to go to green boots instead of the tan that the Army and Marine Corps use (though the Marines need to have the EGA on them...). A Soldier should be able to get a pair of pants from an Air Force base just as easily a Marine should be able to get one from an Army Post in theater. Back in garrison, thats when we can stand out, when there is less need to blend into the surrounding environment or each other!

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