Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politi...528_story.htmlIn 2002, the U.S. military had just two kinds of camouflage uniforms. One was green, for the woods. The other was brown, for the desert.
Then things got strange.
Today, there is one camouflage pattern just for Marines in the desert. There is another just for Navy personnel in the desert. The Army has its own “universal” camouflage pattern, which is designed to work anywhere. It also has another one just for Afghanistan, where the first one doesn’t work.
Even the Air Force has its own unique camouflage, used in a new Airman Battle Uniform. But it has flaws. So in Afghanistan, airmen are told not to wear it in battle.
In just 11 years, two kinds of camouflage have turned into 10. And a simple aspect of the U.S. government has emerged as a complicated and expensive case study in federal duplication.
The duplication problem grows out of three qualities that are deeply rooted in Washington. Good intentions. Little patience. And a lust for new turf.
Pattern No. 7 came from the Air Force. On the surface, that did not make a whole lot of sense: Only a subset of Air Force personnel fight on the ground, including rescuers of downed pilots and battlefield air controllers. But the branch still spent $3.1 million to come up with its own ground combat uniform. It was a “tiger stripe” pattern, a throwback to camouflage used in the Vietnam War.
But it was not well-suited to Afghanistan.
“They were not designed to hide anybody. They were designed to look cool,” said O’Neill, the West Point camouflage expert, giving his outside appraisal of the Air Force design. “It’s what we call ‘CDI Factor.’ Which is, ‘Chicks dig it.’ ”
However, none of the battlefield jobs wanted the pattern. It sucked and it still sucks.
The Navy spent more than $435,000 on three new designs. One was a blue-and-gray pattern, to be worn aboard ships. Pattern No. 8.
Sailors worried that it would hide them at the one time they would want to be found.
“You fall in the damn water and you’re wearing water-colored camouflage. What the hell is that?” said one active-duty petty officer. He asked that his name be withheld because he was criticizing a decision by the brass. “It’s not logical. It’s not logical at all to have water-colored uniforms.”
This is a good metaphor for what is wrong with military.
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