Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trust Kills

Here is yet another example of just how utterly bamboozled the American public really is these days. That isn't exactly news, I realize, but sometimes it is just stunning to contemplate how bad the problem really is.

One would think that two futile land wars along with the Abu Grahib and Walter Reed scandals would be enough debacles for any nations' military to endure in just one decade...but wait, you haven't heard the worst of it just yet. Here is with the details:
Over the next year, America’s largest fighting force is swapping its camouflage pattern. The move is a quiet admission that the last uniform — a pixelated design that debuted in 2004 at a cost of $5 billion — was a colossal mistake.

Soldiers have roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it’s been worn. Industry insiders have called the financial mess surrounding the pattern a “fiasco.”
That doesn't sound good. Tell me more:
“Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,” said an Army specialist who served two tours in Iraq, wearing UCP in Baghdad and the deserts outside Basra. “The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.”

The specialist asked that his name be withheld because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press.

“As a cavalry scout, it is my job to stay hidden. Wearing a uniform that stands out this badly makes it hard to do our job effectively,” he said. “If we can see our own guys across a distance because of it, then so can our enemy.”

The fact that the government spent $5 billion on a camouflage design that actually made its soldiers more visible — and then took eight years to correct the problem — has also left people in the camouflage industry incensed. The total cost comes from the Army itself and includes the price of developing the pattern and producing it for the entire service branch.
So, pray tell, how exactly did this particular clusterfuck happen, anyway?
The problem, the researchers said, was an oddly named branch of the Army in charge of equipping soldiers with gear — Program Executive Office Soldier — had suddenly ordered Natick’s camouflage team to pick a pattern long before trials were finished.

“They jumped the gun,” said James Fairneny, an electrical engineer on Natick’s camouflage team.

Researchers said they received a puzzling order: Take the winning colors and create a pixilated pattern. Researchers were ordered to “basically put it in the Marine Corps pattern,” Fairneny said.

For a decision that could ultimately affect more than a million soldiers in the Army, reserves and National Guard, the sudden shift from Program Executive Office Soldier was a head-scratcher. The consensus among the researchers was the Army brass had watched the Marine Corps don their new uniforms and caught a case of pixilated camouflage envy.

“It was trendy,” Stewardson said. “If it’s good enough for the Marines, why shouldn’t the Army have that same cool new look?”

The brigadier general ultimately responsible for the decision, James Moran, who retired from the Army after leaving Program Executive Office Soldier, has not responded to messages seeking comment.

It’s worth noting that, flawed as it was, the universal pattern did solve the problem of mismatched gear, said Eric Graves, editor of the military gear publication Soldier Systems Daily, adding that the pattern also gave soldiers a new-looking uniform that clearly identified the Army brand.

“Brand identity trumped camouflage utility,” Graves said. “That’s what this really comes down to: ‘We can’t allow the Marine Corps to look more cool than the Army.’ ”
Un-be-fucking-lievable. I don't know what's worse, the $5 billion dollars wasted, the uncountable casualties that likely resulted or the fact that no one is apparently going to be held responsible for this debacle. This is just so fucking par for the course for a U.S. military establishment that has its head firmly planted up its ass.

Hmmm...I wonder how the American public is feeling about the military these days after ten years of relentless failures, including over 6,500 dead servicemen and women, some of whom might still be alive had they been issued adequate camouflage uniforms. Gallup has that particular story:
Once again, Americans are most confident in the military (75%), which has finished first each year since 1989 except 1997, when small business edged it out. Small business, at 63%, is second this year. The police, at 56%, is third, and the only other institution of the 16 tested in which a majority of Americans express confidence.
In fact, as you can see by the chart above, only 6% of Americans polled said they had very little or no confidence in the military as an institution when it should be perfectly obvious that the military is one of the LAST institutions worthy of public trust. What you see here is the end result of 30 years of relentless flag waving propaganda spewing forth from the American corporate media machine. Joeseph Goebbles would be so proud.

Bonus: "U.S. forces give the's a setback for your country"


  1. I think these kind of polls are inherently misleading. Especially in the case of the military, they would be more accurate if the institutions could be broken down; e.g. personnel vs. management. In the case of polls about the military, I think most voters are responding to the commitment and sacrifice demonstrated by the individuals who volunteer to serve, not so much to the institution itself, which many veterans will tell you are just as fubar as the other insitutions listed (although you would know better than me, Bill). There is also an element of guilt, as the all-volunteer policy (desirable by the gov and military for several reasons) has immunized most of us and our loved ones from the potentially dire consequences of serving in the Forever War.

    On another note, great to hear from you. Hope your summer has been enjoyable.

    1. Thanks, Huey. Fortunately, I'm heading out of town tomorrow for a few days just as the 100 degree heat is coming in. :)

  2. “Brand identity trumped camouflage utility,” Graves said. “That’s what this really comes down to: ‘We can’t allow the Marine Corps to look more cool than the Army.’ ”

    Reading that made me want to puke and laugh in equal measure. Honestly, a society that is so mired in surfaces that it can't even figure out the real purpose of camouflage is a society that needs to go the way of the dodo, posthaste.

  3. The military and police is the only place the average Joe can have upper mobility.

  4. Interesting that no source is given for that $5 billion figure...

  5. Ah, The Daily brought to you by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.; that price tag seems way out there to me - but I've e-mailed the article's author for a source, we'll see...

  6. I received a response from the author of that The Daily article, Erik German:
    "That number was released by the Army and reported pretty widely by the Army Times and other outlets a few years back."
    You'll kindly notice that that response is a non-response; until I see something substantive, I'm not buying that $5 Billion figure at all.

  7. In June 2011 The Army Times mentions a figure of $10 Million:
    My searching for $5 Billion in The Army Times' archives leads to results having nothing to do with uniforms. Similarly, searches for that figure on 'The Google' all lead back to Mr. German's article. Some People Say®...

  8. As a final note: my request to Mr. German for more details went unanswered...