Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, reassured Marines in Hawaii last week that he was committed to keeping the distinctive MARPAT camouflage pattern for Marines, even as lawmakers consider adopting one single camo pattern for all the services.
Amos has so far been quiet regarding the proposed changes, even as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has come out in support of a common camouflage–or at least a reduction from the ten-plus patterns now being utilized across the services.
But on July 15 he had some folksy fighting words regarding a change for troops aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
“We are on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich,” Amos said, according to a Marine Corps news release. “I love the hell out of this uniform and I don’t have any intention of changing it.”
What’s not clear from Amos’s comments this month is his perspective on a change that would lead to the other services adopting a camouflage similar or identical to the Marines’ proprietary camouflage pattern.
In 2011 Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett suggested it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the other services to follow the Marines’ lead in their camouflage research.
“I encourage all services to research our MARPAT during their tests to field a new combat uniform,” he said. “We have the best camouflage pattern in the world, and I believe that it helps save the lives of our Marines and sailors. Our uniforms are distinctive, but what distinguishes [Marines] is our ethos, combat mindset and martial spirit.”
But earlier this year, Barrett pushed back against changes that would lead to a common camouflage.
“There are tactical and psychological advantages unique to our [combat uniform]in terms of morale and culture,” Barrett told Marine Corps Times in a written statement for a June 17 cover story. “Like our dress blues, the [combat uniform]is a visible indicator of our identity as United States Marines, globally! It’s part of our Corps’ identity. Where we walk or sail, people are safer — unless you screw with us!”
Famously, the Marines developed MARPAT on an efficient $319,000 budget. That’s compared to $3.1 million the Air Force spent in 2007 to design a “tiger stripe” pattern that was later determined to be flawed and unfit for combat deployments, and $3.2 million in 2005 to develop an “Army Combat Uniform,” or ACU, which is also being retired due to poor performance.
So far, the House and Senate Armed Services committees have approved language that would require the military services to transition to a common combat uniform by 2018.