Camouflage and You

I saw something today that just struck as almost mind-numbingly bizarre.

It was a guy wearing the woodland camouflage BDUs — AKA Green suit. Now this might not strike you crazy kids back home as weird, but absolutely EVERYONE else is wearing the Brown Suits. Sure, you see the woodland pattern Goretex jackets, but that’s not too much of a problem. There was just some totally jarring about this all green uniform. It looked new, too. He must have felt rather silly wandering around being unique in the sea of conformity.

Speaking of that, I remember an amusing incident from My Youth. See, the Army is just nuts for uniformity. It doesn’t matter what everything looks like as long as it all looks the same. (We’ll come back to that thought later.) One fine day we’re cutting some slack down at the MPRC (that’s Multi-Purpose Range Complex for you who never got to shoot heavy weaponry, not the Parental Music Resource Center, the music warning label folks. But I digress.) Some officer type decided we would do PT. All we have is field gear, so it’s boots and t-shirts for the uniform. My roommate instead has on the long sleeve thermal variant instead. The XO notices this and his sense of uniformity of offended. “Spc Moore, why don’t you look like everyone else?”

“Because I’m Indian, sir!”

Delivery was key there, Andy was just as cheery and friendly as you could possibly be. XO stops and stares for a second, flabbergasted, and can only laughingly turn away, knowing there isn’t a damn thing he can say and the company gets a nice chuckle over things.

Ok, now for the “coming back to that thought” part. (‘nuther Army story.)

One year in the early 90s I spent July and part of August out at the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, CA. Now most of you don’t know where that is, but if you find Death Valley on a map, and go south about 2 feet, you find the north edge of that area. So you might guess rightly that it quite sucks to be there. But this isn’t about temperature, it’s about uniformity. So it sucks to have to wear a uniform out there. HA! We did modify the chemical suit for our MOPP shorts, but it wasn’t much cooler, and well…it makes you look stupid, but 130 degree makes you silly. And tales of walking around the desert night with nothing but a pair of boots on, well maybe I’m not going to tell that one tonight…..

Where was I?

Oh yeah. So we crazy Mechanized folks had a battalion of the 82nd for company with us. They took great joy in jumping into rock fields and other casualty producing endeavours. What can I say, they are more motivated than intelligent, and luck doesn’t always shine favorably on them.

So picture this: the mighty mighty 4th ID Mech, 3rd Brigade with their lovely sand painted tanks and tracks, manned by guys in…..GREEN uniforms! The vehicles that our brothers in the 82nd had were all green, but they had the desert BDUs! If we really loved uniformity, shouldn’t we have traded? It’s crazy.

We have a lot of that here, but the green stuff is definitely in the minority. Most of the things here are good old sand-shade, but of course not all….

And so ends the tale of how uniformity is the great theory, and the poor practice. Thank You, and Have A Nice Day.

3 Responses to “Camouflage and You”

  1. Imported Comments Says:

    From Vermont Yankee:

    I am glad that you have acknowledged the only true “fact” in the United States Military. Uniformity is above Godliness and must be the basis for all actions. It’s not what you know, how you act, how well you can fight, but DON’T WE LOOK GOOD!

    Uniformity fits in well with the Army programed responses expected from all subordinates. We can easily understand what it means to park vehicles in a straight line with a prescribed distance between them; we know the exact location of each item of clothing for an inspection (remember that if the t-shirts are not in the upper right corner they will not be recognizable in any other location); and lack of uniformity indicates rebellion, ignorance and probable mutiny.

    The US Army is totally controlled by those animals known as ARs (that is Army Regulations to you non-military types) and deviation from outdated directives is punishable by a multitude of grevious actions. Do you realize that in the civilan world you can tell your boss to take a long walk off of a short pier but in the military you boss can send you to Leavenworth Federal Prison for such a vicious act of insubordination.

    Independent thinking is outlawed in the military. By doing so you may (1) cause an otherwise stupid person to appear to be more stupid, (2) be talking in terms not understood by senior officers who adhere strictly and without conscious thought to the ARs, and (3) worst of all, actually identify a way of doing things more efficiently and effectively. You may not be in serious trouble if you have had the foresight to request permission in triplicate, of course, at least six months in advance, allowing for your “superiors” to form a committee to discuss your offensive thoughts.

  2. Imported Comments Says:

    From eagl:

    Lucky I’m in the AF, where looking good and sounding cool on the radio typically means that we’re doing things right Smile Seriously, nothing looks cooler than a bunch of fighters doing their thing correctly, and nothing sounds cooler than a calm voice on the radio explaining how he’s kicking ass and oh by the way we look cool doing it too.

    Funny thing is, it works and works well. The foulups are easily identified by them not looking right and people sounding goofy or excited on the radio.

    Is it that different in the Army? I always figured in the Army one of the keys to achieving massed firepower is by having everyone doing the same thing, and it seems like that would be kinda tough if everyone just did their own thing however they felt like it…

    BTW OZ, pics tone posted in AGW of your kingly abode gave me WW-PSAB flashbacks. Thx Smile Hope your tent stays tied to the ground… Mine needed help in that area on occasion.

  3. Robert Says:

    It is important to sound cool on the radio, Army is the same for that. However it’s much more important to not look cool, as you’d rather not be looked at all. “How not to be seen” you know. You have to keep in mind that they are gonna to have much less capability in the “run away, run away” dept than yall flyboys. And no, for you non-flyers out there, I’m not going to explain that one. Very Happy

    I’ve got something to add to that, but we’ll make it a separate post I think….

    Oh, btw it turns out there was a reason that guy was in the greenweenie, and more showed up the next day. Yaay logistics! Anyway, the unit seems to have decent folks in it. I’m not sure if they are the ones who shamed themselves 12 years ago, but they are from the same state. Won’t be any loading of the busses out here.

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