The Marine Corps Commandant General James L. Jones wants to lead the Marines into the 21st century with a new camouflage utility uniform. You may ask, why do the Marines need to differentiate their uniform from other branches; or why do the Marines need a new utility uniform at all. The answer to these questions can be summed up in two words: Forward Movement. Some Marines are having difficulties with the changes that have occurred as well as the changes that are coming.
On 1 May 2000 General Jones began to start the transition from the old uniform to the new uniform. Three steps have been taken to change the way Marines look while in their uniform. First, Marines were no longer authorized to wear the brown undershirt. This movement came about to distinguish the Marine Corps as an amphibious branch. The Army Soldier is authorized to wear the brown undershirt, and the Air Force Airman wears a black undershirt.
Secondly, a new belt for the utility uniform is currently being implemented. The belts represent the individual Marines status in Martial Arts training. The riggers belt will be worn in five different colors: Tan, Grey, Green, Brown, and Black. The Marine has an option to don a new color once training for that level has been completed.
Finally, the third change involves the utility uniform itself, also known as cammies, giving it a complete makeover. The current cammie design for all branches of the Armed Forces is over twenty years old. The textile industry has made many advances in the production of clothing providing more comfort and durability. Revolutionary advances within the clothing industry, Velcro and zippers, are being tested on the new cammie uniform.
Velcro could be used instead of buttons on the pockets, and zippers may replace the buttons on the fly of the trousers. While on garrison duty, zippers may also be used on the blouse, to unzip the arm portion of the sleeve, to avoid rolling up the sleeves in garrison duty during hotter climates. The basic pattern of the cammie uniform will have a face-lift as well.
With the exception of angled chest pockets for easier accessibility, the new utilities will have the same design appearance as the todays cammie uniform. New material that requires no ironing will increase the durability of the cammie material. The material will last longer than that of the current cammie material, which will normally fade in six months. Changing the fabric is not the only material change within the uniform.
The current pattern is very effective in jungle climates, but todays Marine Corps training focuses on urban terrain. The mission of the Marine Corps Rifle Squad is changing with peacetime operations and deals more with humanitarian assistance located in occupied areas, towns, and cities. These urban areas make it difficult for a Marine to conceal himself within the buildings or homes normally found in populated spaces. The new pattern, designed by Marine snipers, will blend into both jungle and urban backgrounds faster. Up close the pattern resembles small computer pixels that break up the colors of the cammie uniform for better concealment.
In addition to changing the blouse and trousers of the current utility uniform, a new type of boot is being considered. The brown suede boot, if adopted, will eliminate the spit shine on combat boots that can reflect the sunlight. A boot gaiter, also known as a calf-cover, has also been looked at to avoid unwanted debris from entering the boot from the lace area. The boot gaiters will also avoid the potential danger of worn down eyelets reflecting the sunlight.
As a member of the Marine Corps, I feel that the changes to the cammie uniform will positively affect the mental attitude of a Marine while in a potentially dangerous environment. The design changes will also make using the uniform easier while the material adds to the longevity of the uniform. With a new camouflage utility uniform to decrease the risk of detection during concealment, General Jones will increase the odds of a Marines survival, and the Marine Corps will cross into the 21st century ready for any mission.
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