Before everyone howls in outrage at this statement, let me point a few things out:
1. In 2002 the Marine Corps spent $319,000 developing new camouflage pattern uniforms which have not changed since.
2. In 2005 the Army followed our example in changing its camo patterns. They spent $2.63 million (bwa-ha-ha!) developing the “universal” pattern which everyone agrees universally sucked.
3. Not to be outdone, the Air Force aimed high, spending $3.1 million in 2007 developing the “tiger stripe” Airman Battle Uniform. It should be noted since then, no Airmen have fallen in battle against tigers. Despite this stunning success, the Airman Battle Uniform is now prohibited for use in battle.
4. Pissed the Air Force spent more money on camouflage than they did, the Army shelled out another $2.9 million on the Operation Enduring Freedom pattern in 2010. Take that Air Force!
5. In 2011, the Navy, in an effort to close the growing “camouflage gap,” spent a mere $435,000 on no less than three different patterns. This included the infamous “aquaflauge” pattern ensuring the impossibility of spotting a Sailor who had fallen overboard.
So you see how the uniform envy thing can get out of hand. You’d think the Army would have learned something after the whole beret debacle.
This year Congress voted to end service specific camouflage suggesting we spend an additional $4.2 million on developing a new pattern to be used jointly by all the services. This would effectively flush all the money spent on the current patterns right down the toilet. Leave it to Congress to prove only they can waste more tax dollars than the entire Armed Forces of the United States combined. Here’s a crazy idea, how about we just put a moratorium on new camouflage pattern development and each service is stuck with what its got for the next ten years or so? Then the millions already spent on developing the current patterns wouldn’t be quite a waste and we could spend the $4.2 million training for the next conflict.
Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if everyone had copied our pattern from 2002. It would merely have reinforced my father’s statement above. By now one would hope the Armed Forces have figured out unit cohesion, esprit, and morale are not developed by wearing a distinct uniform. In fact, it’s the other way around.