Morale: Aquaflage Gets A Mandatory Reboot

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August 10, 2016: The U.S. Navy has decided to replace its new (since 2010) camouflage pattern work uniforms with newer and improved (by popular demand) ones. The camouflage pattern remains (but is digital instead of pixilated) and more importantly the new work uniforms are more fireproof and better able to handle heat when not burning. The original camouflage pattern work uniforms turned out to burn a lot faster than expected and cause more injuries to the wearer in the process. Even when not on fire the old uniforms did not “breathe” and were stifling in hot weather or the often very hot conditions often encountered below decks.

When first forced to use the first camo work clothes back in 2010 U.S. Navy sailors thought their new work uniform was mainly silly. It consisted of shirt and pants in a gray, blue and black camouflage pattern. Most sailors wear the work uniform while on a ship. What's the point of camouflage there? This has at least led to some entertaining humor. For example, sailors called the new camouflage "Aquaflage" and tried to find some purpose in it. Some believed it was a cost saving measure, since if you fell overboard while wearing it there was little chance you'd ever be seen in the water, so there was no need to turn the ship around to try and find you. Along those lines, some believed that if you fell overboard, the aquaflage would make it more difficult for any sharks to spot you. Actually, sharks detect prey via smell, not sight, but no matter.

Ultimately, aquaflage came along because of the herd instinct at the top. Since 2001 all the services had gotten new camouflage uniforms, or gotten them for the first time. Even the air force had a blue type camouflage pattern. The admirals felt compelled to replace the traditional (and popular) dungarees and blue work shirt with the much less popular aquaflage. For more formal occasions, junior enlisted sailors were still allowed to wear a khaki shirt and black pants (an arrangement the U.S. Marine Corps has made famous). The navy "dress blues" remain unchanged.

After aquaflage was introduced the navy brass, bowing to loud and sustained complaints, agreed to allow sailors living off base, on their way home from work, to get out of their vehicles to perform short errands (picking up dry cleaning, groceries, day care, and so on), while wearing the new navy work uniform. Prior to this, navy personnel were forbidden from leaving their vehicles while outside the base, and wearing the work uniform. While sailors appreciated being allowed to get out of their cars on the way home work, most would prefer to do it while wearing the traditional dungarees and blue work shirt.

When sailors encountered the heat and burn risk problems with the new uniforms it was no longer a laughing matter and the navy had to pay attention and came up with a new work uniform in record time. The new work uniform will be available before the end of 2016 and will be mandatory for everyone by 2018.

 


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