Well, just when I thought it couldn’t get more interesting, Congress has FINALLY decided to step in. Learned about it on SSD. Congressman William Enyart (D- IL) has supposedly read an article in the Washington Post about Camouflage last month. Here’s the link. It’s really a seminal article and I referenced it in my discussion within my Camo article a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, Enyart became inspired and submitted an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act through the House Armed Services Committee which passed 32-30.
The Amendment says that the services need to have the same uniforms by 1 Oct 2018, and outlaws future branch-specific uniforms. There are exceptions written into the amendment for headgear, SOCOM, and working or vehicle uniforms. The Secretary of Defense can also ask for a waiver to the law if he certifies to Congress “exceptional operational circumstances” requiring the fielding of a new combat camo uniform.
The actual text to the amendment is here. (thanks to http://www.scribd.com/solsys)
Frankly, it’s about time! DoD abdicated responsibility and let it get as bad as it has (eight patterns) over a decade. The GAO report “DOD Should Improve Development of Camouflage Uniforms and Enhance Collaboration Among the Services” made a slew of recommendations to DoD, which resulted in the lukewarm DoD response that it would require “joint criteria,” and that the branches will share camo technology. Well, technology was already being shared, and stating we’re going to “measure camo” the same way isn’t a big deal. There’s a saying, “If you want to be in charge, be in charge.” Congress IS a soup sandwich, but sometimes they make the military do things it doesn’t want to do, but needs to do none the less. (Look at the A10.) It’s about time someone started herding the “camouflage cats.”
Now the question becomes, “what next?” For this to become law, the House and Senate have to pass it, and then the President has to sign it. IF it becomes law, whatever patterns the Army announces on June 14 will have been the most tested in history and will have a huge amount of data behind them. This amendment could throw a monkey wrench into Army plans, but not before the Army starts the wheels rolling to field their new patterns.
I don’t see much resistance to shared patterns except from the Marines. The Air Force isn’t going to have a problem adopting the Army pattern. First, there are reports that the Air Force is watching the Army’s effort closely, and airmen are wearing MultiCam and being issued Army ACUs in OCP (MultiCam) today. Then there’s the fact that the Navy and Air Force have had troops wearing Army uniforms (to include ACUs over the last decade) with no issues. The Navy adopted AOR because they wanted an effective camo pattern and ACU wasn’t cutting it. The Marines pressed the Navy to limit AOR1 (the Navy’s pixilated desert pattern) to NSW, putting all 90%+ of sailors in woodland pattern uniforms when deployed to desert areas (Seabees, NCIS, Navy aviators supporting conventional ops have to wear AOR2, the Navy’s pixilated woodland pattern) or borrow MultiCam on the sly and blend in with the Army. The Navy can’t be happy with that.
Most likely we’ll go back to doing business like we did for the 60 years before MARPAT – that being shared patterns. I hope there isn’t a lot of drama but I don’t have high hopes.
(Featured Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)