Where to start cutting military spending: 10 different camouflage uniforms

“You fall in the damn water and you’re wearing water-colored camouflage. What the hell is that?”

That’s from an unidentified Navy sailor pointing out the problems with the Navy’s blue camouflage uniforms, one of ten different types of camouflage used by the U.S. military. There used to be just two patterns – green for forests and brown for deserts. Then the services decided they each needed their own camouflage patterns, and paid to develop and outfit their personnel with the ten varieties we have today.

That's going to catch the eye.

That’s going to catch the eye. (Wikimedia Commons)

There’s a lot to shake your head at here, but the Navy’s blue uniforms really take the cake. Even if the sailors blend in, the big grey ship is going to stand out. As the sailor points out above, all the blue uniforms are is a safety hazard.

A lot of this seems to come back to service pride – the Marines refused to share their design – and also the desire for commanders to make a mark on their institution. I once heard the explanation that new uniform designs are a visible way to have an accomplishment, when changing deep institutional biases might just lead to failure and frustration.

But if the military can spend all this money on fashion, it does suggest that there’s room to cut the defense budget.


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