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For the past few years something had been bothering me when I visit a U.S. military instillation.  It was a nagging something  nudging the edge of my reality that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Last week at the Airbase I finally realized what it was.   While I was walking from the BX to the Commissary, I happened to see two guy's in uniform other than fatigues.  A Marine Corporal in full dress and a few minuets later, and Air Force Staff Sargent in Class A's.  It occurred to me that I had not seen anyone in Class A's in the last several years.  That was it!  Every one, of whatever service seems to be waring Fatigues these days – at least that's what I call them because it's the uniform we wore in the field and for work details during WWII through 67 at least.  Of course they were not covered with camouflage design back then but it's basically the same uniform.  Some people who were assigned combat duty in South Pacific jingles did wear camouflage fatigues during WWII.  They were in the friggen jungle, and thats the reason!  Why would someone ware camouflage in an office in NYC?     When was the last time you saw a sailor wearing a uniform that looked like the guy on the crackerjack box?  What ever happened to bell bottom trousers?  

I see most of the  people searching city  trash containers for aluminum cans, wearing clothing, or some item of clothing of the same camouflage design.   At least a third of the homeless men, and a some of the women who live in the city park favored by people of that status, are currently wearing complete, or  pieces of the camouflage uniform.
   I went out to the hospital pharmacy a a couple of days ago to pick up some meds and asked an Army Staff Sergeant I chanced to meet, what the slang term was for the uniform he was wearing and his response was “ACU's”.  I of course had no clue what that meant so he spelled it out for me, "Army Combat Uniform.” he said.  Don't they have slang terms for uniforms and hats any more?  We used to have some doozies.
  Now I'm pretty sure that the guy who wrote the Christmas Carole with  the phrase,  “Now we don our gay apparel” did not have the color “olive drab” in mind when he penned those lines, but O.D's pressed with the brass and colorful unit patches, and maybe a few ribbons,  looked pretty damn good.  You could always spot someone in the Army Air Corp because of their flamboyant dress.  I thought seriously of applying for OCS just so I could wear “Pinks”.  I can hear some of you young whippersnappers now saying, “Come on!  The Macho U.S. Army never wore pink uniforms!”  Yea we did, pinks and greens too.  Google it.  A chocolate brown form fitting blouse with mouse gray slacks that had a green tinge, and WOW!
   Hopefully the military will return to the day when at least class B's are required off base.  
   I am finishing up this diary with the lyrics of a song that always made my heart swell.  The title is pretty obviously, “There's Something About a Soldier”.    It's  from a 1934 movie of the same name.  If you would like to hear the song, Google it.  Okay the clip with Betty Boop is not all that great.
   Old fogies really hate change, but nevertheless, it's my hope that each and everyone of you will someday, become one.

There's something about a soldier
There's something about a soldier
There's something about a soldier
That is fine fine fine
He may be a great big general
He may be a sergeant major
He may be a simple private of the line line line
But there's something about his bearing, something in what he's wearing
Something about his buttons all a shine shine shine
O a military chest seems to suit the ladies best
There's something about a soldier that is fine fine fine.

Originally posted to This old man on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 12:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You can't do any real work in dress uniforms. (18+ / 0-)

    The new cammies are designed so that you can work in them and still look fairly respectable. They're durable, washable, nearly impossible to tear, fade-free, wrinkle-free, hard-to-stain, and generally just the best thing since sliced bread.

    The dress uniforms are still made of wool or polyester. They're restrictive, delicate, and impossible to keep clean. The Navy whites are also transparent. The wool ones need to be dry-cleaned, which is environmentally unfriendly and expensive (and we no longer live in a time when dry-cleaning is a normal part of life for people who work with their hands). All routine wear of dress uniforms accomplishes is wearing them out faster so they look worse when you actually need them.

    So I can promise you that nobody's going to go back to working in dress uniforms. It's impractical, silly, expensive, and bad for the environment.

    And if work uniforms weren't allowed off-base, people wouldn't be changing into dress uniforms; they'd be changing into civvies, just like the Navy did when I was in (before they introduced the blue cammies). I worked in coveralls, which I couldn't wear off base; I sure as heck wasn't keeping a set of blues or whites in an aircraft hangar to soak up the smell of JP-5 and hyd fluid. I just wore civvies to and from work, to the exchange, and anywhere else I couldn't wear coveralls.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 01:29:57 AM PDT

    •  recc'ed for Navy whites are transparent... (10+ / 0-)

      'cause they are.  Of course, I didn't see that as a bad thing...

      And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

      by Mortifyd on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:14:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So you think we would have won WWII a lot (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, ranger995

      sooner if we had all wore fatigues with a camoufkage design?    

      •  Possibly (12+ / 0-)

        The old uniforms certainly didn't help any. Between laundry costs, mending and replacement costs, fit problems, and allergy problems, wool uniforms are a significant drain on resources and manpower.

        They're also not good with mosquitoes and sand and high temperatures - something the Army began realizing about halfway through WWII, although they couldn't roll out the cotton fatigues fast enough. And wool chafes when wet, which leads to health issues in the field, in addition to smelling terrible and losing its shape. (We won't even talk about wet Sailors in summer.)

        And that's on top of the issues with actually trying to do anything in them. They're restrictive, uncomfortable, expensive, delicate, and easy to get caught in machinery. Not a set of qualities you want in the clothing you wear to do real work.

        The workarounds people used - taking your jacket off, rolling up your sleeves, tucking your pants into your socks - degrade the uniform. As does allowing people to wear a service uniform that's got scuffs/tears/stains from being worked in.

        And even desk jockeys are more productive in practical uniforms. Every time a Sailor has to unbutton his dress blues to take a piss, the Navy loses 5 minutes of productive time. Now, I don't really have a problem with making them wear service uniforms, but I don't really see the point (aside from showing off their underwear).

        Honestly, there are a lot of very good reasons behind the changes to military uniforms. The services don't take tradition lightly. But they've found that people work better and are happier in modern, practical, easy-to-care-for uniforms. They still have the service and dress uniforms in their closets. They have the option to wear them. Commands have the option to require them. They just mostly don't.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:48:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The one good thing about wool is (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Marti, This old man, Mortifyd

          it keeps you warm even if it is wet. At least that has been my experience.

          That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

          by stevie avebury on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:26:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The diary was written with tongue partially (6+ / 0-)

          in cheek, and I'm sure you have a point about the easy care,  However,  I find it a little disconcerting that the men who pick up my garbage as well as the guy on the street who asks me if I can spare a dollar is wearing the same outfit as most of the U.S.  Military.  Why is the Captain at the Army hospital  wearing camouflage battle dress while he checks my prostrate?   That is something I do find silly.

        •  attitude counts and the new (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          This old man, Mortifyd

          "warrior mentality" that cuts courtesy for practicality and pride for ease is a source of the slackness that let atrocities like TSG Bobby Bass's "MTI" tours happen, IMNVHO.

          Fatigues are for work, yes.
          In an office a set of Class Bs should replace fatigues.
          A Professional is not a Warrior.
          Dirt is not strength.

          LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

          by BlackSheep1 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:38:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  wool is both durable and breathable (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          This old man

          warm when wet, cooling when hot.  It wasn't an arbitrary choice to use wool in older uniforms.

          And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

          by Mortifyd on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:03:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was the best they had (0+ / 0-)

            It still sucks by modern standards. It wasn't an arbitrary choice to move away from wool either.

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 06:44:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  because cotton hadn't been invented yet? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              This old man

              eyeroll

              They had choices.  Wool is not evil, it does many things modern fabrics do not.  To dismiss it as simply the only option or archaic is ridiculous.

              And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

              by Mortifyd on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 06:52:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Because synthetics hadn't been invented yet (0+ / 0-)

                and pure cotton has its own issues (especially in cold/wet environments like the European front), although they did start moving toward a cotton working uniform for tropical environments partway through the war (they just couldn't produce it fast enough).

                We now have cotton/nylon blends and other miracles of materials science at our disposal. The only things that wool does that modern fabrics can't match are smelling like a wet dog and triggering allergic reactions. But it's still used in the dress uniforms because it looks nice. The way we compromise between appearance and practicality is by not requiring people to actually wear them most of the time.

                "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                by kyril on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:15:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  they had rayon and nylon (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  This old man

                  in 1924 and 1939 respectively.  More synthetics came quickly after.  Wool smells like wet sheep, not wet dogs - and allergies are prevented with a cotton lining.

                  I get you don't like wool - but it was and is a great material - natural, breathable, renewable and tough.  It also doesn't melt onto people when it's on fire.

                  And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

                  by Mortifyd on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:57:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  and perhaps, the clothing of dealing death (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  This old man

                  should be a bit uncomfortable - lest one forgets that it is for dealing death and not just another day at the office.

                  And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

                  by Mortifyd on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:24:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  When I was in the Marines we perfected techniques (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      This old man, OldSoldier99, kyril

      to look as non-military as possible when leaving base. Nobody wanted to look like a Marine at Myrtle beach, although it's really difficult to do. We would ditch people who wore "death before dishonor" t-shirts and such, and no one ever thought it would be good to wear dress uniforms.

      "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

      by ranger995 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:24:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I thought that the Army (7+ / 0-)

    summer uniform of khakis were the bomb. It was always my favorite uniform to wear.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 01:51:47 AM PDT

  •  I remember when they were BDUs... (12+ / 0-)

    does that make me old?

    And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

    by Mortifyd on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 03:15:16 AM PDT

  •  When my youngest daughter worked (9+ / 0-)

    for the Sheriff's Department, she was assigned to corrections.  Correctional officer standard issue uniforms are Class D.  She loves her BDUs, which are better when there is a fight to break up.  When she left the sheriff's department to take her present job patrolling, they wear Class A uniforms year round. Her current assignment is at a large hospital and medical school complex.  She says she wishes she could continue to wear her BDUs because they are a lot more comfortable and flexible.

    I explained to her the the Class D uniform made her look like a SWAT officer and that is not necessarily a good thing when dealing with the public.

    When General McChrystal came to the White House for his famous meeting with President Obama after his famous "foot in mouth" interview with Rolling Stone, the General wore desert camo BDUs and boots.  I really thought that was inappropriate for an official meeting with the Commander in Chief.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 04:31:13 AM PDT

  •  In the Army they were called fatigues (11+ / 0-)

    That was you work uniform but when I was in (66-69) you could only wear them off post to go to and from home if you lived off post. You NEVER wore them traveling around.

    In the Vietnam War when I was in the lrrps, later renamed Rangers, They originally issued us Air Force camo fatigues when we  went to Recondo School. They were OK but we couldn't get replacements for them. So rather than try to get Air Force camo fatigues out of army supply we just went downtown and bought  tiger fatigues.
    Thats right, we bought the clothes we went to war in, and some of the guns too. The Tiger fatigues s you see below were technically unauthorized (so was the sten gun) tho everybody wore them.
    as far as I know the word was anyone wearing tigers was out of uniform to the NVA so you could count on not coming back if captured. This meant a fight to the death every time
    As you can see these were the forerunners to today's camo
     photo JamesWorthwithsilencedSten.jpg

    This was the Class A Army uniform for paratroopers when I went to Vietnam
     photo 522leaveECplaza2.jpg

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 05:12:24 AM PDT

    •  Interesting Pictures (6+ / 0-)

      I was scratching my head wondering where you got the STEN gun.

      I looked it up and sure enough, they were used by some US units in Vietnam.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:47:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A pretty rare picture (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        This old man

        bet you can't find a picture of another American soldier in Vietnam holding one.
        My team leader got it from some Special Forces guys. we could only get two magazines for it so it wasn't  anyone's main piece. We just used it for special tasks, when we wanted to be quiet. It was the only silenced (suppressed) weapon we had.
        Not only did we buy the clothes, we bought some of the guns we used too.

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 04:17:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Depends on the assignment. (8+ / 0-)

    Most places my husband has been of late require Air Force Blues on Friday and what we call BDU's on other days. BDU's are Battle Dress Uniform but using the term dates us as the younger folks do call them ACUs.

    We've also been to some events where we see everyone in dress uniform and it is a sight to see. Everyone looks so professional... but lets face it. When we went to war, the higher ups wanted everyone to feel like a warrior and that doesn't happen when you're dressed to manage a desk.

  •  The real blasphemy (6+ / 0-)

    Was the new black berets. Berets used to be for special units e.g. green for SF, black for Rangers, blue for AF special units etc.

    My friend who was a Ranger was totally pissed off when Rangers had to change to tan berets.

    And to top it off, the first batch were made in China!!!!!!!!!!!

    Help me to be the best Wavy Gravy I can muster

    by BOHICA on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 06:58:00 AM PDT

    •  Non-Ranger Soldiers disliked it too. (5+ / 0-)

      I was one of those. Rangers earned the damn things, let them keep 'em. Shinseki was determined, though, so there you had it.

      The good news is that they're finally wising up and more and more you see folks wearing the patrol cap with ACUs, at least.

      "The President is trying to make it tough on members of Congress. It's just sick." -- John Boehner (R-WATB)

      by OldSoldier99 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:42:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They get to wear them now because people (0+ / 0-)

        that it wasn't fair to distinguish rank in uniform by use of a hat and shouldn't everyone get a distinguished hat for their contribution on duty. That was argument. In fact it is a liberal one that rsnk should not be signified by a hat whether earned or not and some even in fact think rank should be done away with! I disagree but there it is.

    •  Berets suck! The only uniform they should be (3+ / 0-)

      worn with is the Class A. It's stupid to wear a beret with the BDU, ACU, Cammies, whatever. It's not practical.

      However, the beret looks much better with the Class A than the other caps that like canoes or something.  I always thought they looked stupid.

      Also, in every other military but ours, black berets are for tankers. The tan berets are much better for the Rangers, they got the color from the British SAS, much cooler than tankers.

      "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

      by ranger995 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:17:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You, ranger995, have never met the USAF (4+ / 0-)

        enlisted Female Beret acerca de 1976-80. Talk about a hat that sucks.
        But there are earned berets -- the Rangers come to mind, and so do the PJs.  

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:43:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes the Green Beret is earned as well, or at least (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sandy on Signal, BlackSheep1

          it has been since the 1990s. Ever since some nasty pictures of overweight support personnel wearing the Green Berets were widely published to mock the Special Forces.

          My comment is just that the Beret in general is a pain in the ass to wear with the regular duty uniform---you have to constantly worry about how it looks and all. People are crazy about the way berets are worn. It has to be shaved and formed perfectly, or you will be doing push-ups and such.

          In any case, the beret and jump boots do look much better with the Class A's than the dress shoes and canoe hat. So, I am happy it was added to that uniform.

          FYI-- I never liked the SP blue beret, or any of the Air Force uniforms. Sorry. The PJs wear maroon berets I thought.

          "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

          by ranger995 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 12:59:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The PJs earn their berets (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ranger995

            That Others May Live.
            I would call that color crimson.

             I remember watching them, when I was on Lackland, going everywhere double-time and carrying a telephone pole per squad everywhere they went. I grudge those gentlebeings nothing of their reputation.

            I find the new "warrior first" mindset to be, not to put too fine a point on it, self-serving bullshit, every time I hear it from a women's basketball coach or from a supply pogue.  Professionalism has a point -- and a set of undress blues, or greens if you prefer, with a garrison cap or a billed hat never hurt a soul. Of course, these days, no uniform is issue, and everything is charge-back against your pay if you're enlisted; you must also pay a tailor if you're an officer.

            So much is now so wrong. I blame the people who took over after Gen. Schwarzkopf retired -- they had not been to war, as he had, around the world away from home. Had we had good leaders in the services, Abu Ghraib never would have happened; but when you put romeo-charlie-foxtrot "agent" wannabes in command, what befalls you is your own damn fault.

            The SPs/LEs had blue -- or more properly dark navy, which might as well have been black -- berets in my day, but they weren't bent / shaved / starched in that L-shape you see everywhere now, regardless of branch or specialty. They were worn flat, or canted just off flat, and snug; you still could get a decent shade for your eyes if you held your head correctly, working at the entry-gate.

            I am blessed never to have needed one of those. I wore fatigues, and ballcaps, with honest pride. I shined my boots myself, too.

            And the hat I am talking about has vanished from the face of the earth. It was no beret at all, but something of a cloche, and wearing it was the biggest PITA you can possibly imagine. I shall tell you honestly, it sucked worse than having to wear pantyhose and a wool skirt, on Lackland in August.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:19:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Now get off my yard! n/t (6+ / 0-)

    Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:26:24 AM PDT

  •  I remenber when we were told we had to get BDU's (7+ / 0-)

    and stop wearing our fatigues. Fatigues cost approximately 12 dollars a uniform and the BDU's cost 60 dollars per. The reason given at the time was that command wanted the troops to look like war fighters.  Made a lot of sense for admin's and mechanics to wear those uniforms. Another boondogle by the fighting pencil pushing brigade.

  •  Liberty attire (4+ / 0-)

    At least for us, the "utility""battle""operational" uniform is not acceptable liberty attire.  It is allowed for commuting (including short stops such as for gas), and for travel when in a duty status.  Only the "dress" uniforms are allowed for liberty purposes.

    They kept changing the rules on whether or not the utility uniforms could be worn in an office setting...now it is up to each unit commander to decide.  The rule of thumb these days seems to be that if you're going to be interacting with members of the public who are in business attire, then dress uniforms prevail.  If you are interacting with industry, people in working attire, then the utility uniform is appropriate.  And of course, if you are going to be working, getting dirty, exposed to the elements, the utility is necessary (and/or coveralls, cold weather gear, PPE, etc.).  We have a huge chart of which uniform is appropriate for which situations :)

    As far as the camo, I understand that it makes sense to save money and just have everyone wear the same pattern of utilities, even if camo isn't needed in an office environment.  I agree that it's kind of silly for people in offices to wear camo, although I saw a hilarious picture making the rounds on FB a while back that showed a guy in digital camos blending into the carpet in an office setting...the title said something like, "Now I know what the camouflage is for."  Wish I could find that pic to share here...!

    and now I'll hurry up and get off your lawn! ;)

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