You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Dorr: Back to basics with ABUs

Jul. 3, 2013 - 04:20PM   |  
  • Filed Under

For the past dozen years, each service branch has developed its own combat attire.

For the past dozen years, each service branch has developed its own combat attire.

  • Please enable JavaScript for your browser in order to use
Want to read more?
Current Subscribers
Access to Navy Times Prime is free for current Navy Times subscribers.
Log in
Haven't registered online?
Activate Account
New Subscribers
Start your subscription to Navy Times Prime for as little as 59¢ a week!

For the past dozen years, each service branch has developed its own combat attire.

The Air Force developed its Airman Battle Uniforms, called ABUs, which are costly to maintain and uncomfortable in warm climates.

The Army, Marine Corps and Navy all have distinctive work uniforms. In news stories they’re often called cammies, but I’ve never heard a service member use the term.

Now there’s a move in Congress to require a single camouflage uniform for the military. House and Senate versions of next year’s military spending bill would require service branches to issue identical work attire.

Rep. Bill Enyart D-Ill says on his official website that he wants to “eliminate waste and duplication in the military uniforms policy.” He was a force behind the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets the Pentagon’s budget and was passed by the House of Representatives by a 315 to 108 vote June 14. The Senate is expected to enact a version of the legislation with the same mandate for work uniforms that are ... well ... uniform.

The proposal in the House and Senate hasn’t been met with much reaction except in the Marine Corps, where several generals have spoken out against abandoning the uniform they wear today. It’s not unusual for the Marines to go their own way, but this is one time they need to fall into step.

Standardizing the work uniform is a good idea, but in my view, it doesn’t go far enough. It’s time to restore the work uniform to its rightful place — the workplace. If you’re in an office sitting at a desk, you should be wearing service dress.

Photos of the so-called “dignified transfer” of our war dead at Dover Air Force Base, Del., send a message that the widespread acceptance of ABUs in lieu of service dress has gone too far. There’s nothing dignified about it. If you’re entrusted to transfer the coffin of an American who gave his life for this country, you shouldn’t be dressed as if you’ve just been out raking the leaves.

For work and for combat — not for ceremonies or desk-bound duties — let’s choose a straightforward, unremarkable color. Let’s keep the design cheap and simple.

And let’s forget about the concept of camouflage. It doesn’t work. Never has. Never will.

That would rule out the Navy’s current “blueberries,” those fashion disasters of black-and-blue pixels that have become a laughingstock. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told defense writers in June that the Navy attire won’t conceal you from the enemy. “The great camouflage it gives you is if you fall overboard,” Mabus said.

The sage green fatigues issued by the Air Force in the 1950s would work well for all services. They’re inexpensive, practical and almost impervious to dirt and stains. They’re not too hot and not too tight. Upkeep is easy. No, they’re not very pretty. But if I get my way, you won’t be wearing them on the parade ground.

The Air Force, the military and the nation face plenty of challenges right now. Some are complicated and demanding.

Fixing the work uniform isn’t one of those. Choosing proper work attire and using it only for work is an easy solution that’s also a good deal for taxpayers.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Go mustang
LDO and warrant careers offer more authority, a pay hike and big retirement payout

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook