Full article here.Lance M. Bacon, Army Times wrote:
Controversial Black Beret Could Get Ditched
A number of uniform changes are being considered, in part driven by the new Sergeant Major of the Army.
The beret may be nearing the end of its 11-year run as the official Army headgear, Velcro is hanging by a thread, and three other key uniform changes are in the works or under consideration. The possibility of these changes are the result of Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, who in one of his first acts in office, took it upon himself to ask soldiers what they would change about the Army Combat Uniform.
Several themes were consistent. None is likely to catch any soldier by surprise:
- The beret is not a fan favorite. Many said they want the beret canned because “it serves no practical purpose.” Others were OK wearing the beret with the Army Service Uniform, but were adamant that its days with the ACU must come to an end. “The ACU signifies a uniform that should be worn in combat or training for combat, yet a beret doesn’t even make the cut on the deployment packing list,” said Sgt. Maj. Tony James, an infantryman with 25 years in uniform. Such soldiers said patrol caps, with their ventilated sun protection, are more practical, simpler to wear and look better.
- Velcro is “a huge mess” that does not hold up to normal wear and tear. It is a detriment to units that need to practice noise discipline in tactical environments, leading dozens to ask for “strong and quiet” buttons. In the words of Scott Seiersen, “The Velcro. Oh God, the Velcro ... I miss my BDUs.” Many also said name tapes should be sewn on to prevent the camouflage bacon strips that emerge. And speaking of camouflage...
- Many respondents said the Universal Camouflage Pattern is “completely useless.” Benjamin Blacklock said he desires “a pattern that is useful on more than a couch.” Ramona Scheherazade Robles described the pattern as something she would find in the dollar bin of a fabric store. Andrew Wade Nunn was far less kind, saying, “Kill the ACU pattern and those who are responsible for its creation.”
- Soldiers also called for stronger material in the ACU. Some said they have dealt with "unexpected ventilation" in the groin area too many times.
- Asked to weigh in on the Service Dress Tropical Uniform, most respondents liked the white, short-sleeve shirt, but didn’t like the idea of wearing only three authorized ribbons. Soldiers largely thought they should wear all or none.
Soldiers will see new and improved ACUs by year’s end. The collars will have less Velcro and are more comfortable. Cargo pockets will lose the Velcro and add an “extender button” for easier access and expanded carrying capability. The crotch also has been reinforced to reduce rips.
The improved uniforms will be phased in as the current inventory is depleted, said Col. William Cole, project manager of Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment. Defense Logistics Agency has about a six-month stock of trousers and roughly a nine-month supply of coats.
The second program will see three new camouflage patterns — a woodland variant, a desert variant and a “transitional” variant that covers everything in between. The Army on April 15 issued a request for proposal. Industry, which was anticipating this change since late last year, has 90 days to present solutions. The Army will then select five contenders: three from industry and two from the government. Wear and field tests will follow. If all goes as planned, production will begin by the end of 2012. UCP, the three-color pattern fielded in 2004, "stands little to no chance of being selected", officials said. Cost is a key issue in regard to changing the beret policy, Chandler said. The board will consider the soldiers’ ability to purchase and maintain new headgear as it determines whether it is worth the benefit.
Chandler would not give his own opinion of the beret, insisting instead on echoing the wants and needs of soldiers.
Army Debating Uniform Changes
- Name : Ben
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