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Senators join push toward a common combat uniform

Aug. 1, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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The powerful Senate Appropriations Committee has joined the campaign to get the services to share a common combat uniform, including a provision in a 2014 defense funding bill that would put an immediate end to the development and fielding of service-unique utility uniforms.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed its version of the 2014 defense authorization bill that included a similar provision. The House-passed provision in HR 1960 gives the Defense Department 180 days from the signing of the bill to issue new guidance about sharing camouflage patterns and designs for combat clothing.

That provision postponed until Oct. 1, 2018, a firm requirement for the services to use a joint combat uniform, giving them time to use up existing stocks and to agree on a common design and pattern.

The 2014 defense appropriations bill passed Aug. 1 by the Senate committee doesn’t leave much room for delay or argument. Effective with the signing of the funding bill, it prohibits spending money on new designs or fielding of combat uniforms “unless the combat or camouflage utility uniform will be adopted by all military services or the military service adopts a uniform currently in use by another service.”

Similar language was approved June 20 by the Senate Armed Services Committee in its version of the annual defense authorization bill, S 1197.

The Senate Appropriations Committee prohibition also would block changes to the fabric and camouflage pattern in current uniforms. A waiver of the common combat uniform requirement could be granted by the defense secretary, but only for “unique circumstance or requirements.”

The House-passed plan includes a specific waiver for special operations forces.

In a report accompanying the Senate funding bill, the appropriations committee says it “is concerned about the high cost and disparity in protection” of the different combat uniforms with varying camouflage patterns now used by the services.

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