San Diego Union-Tribune

July 26, 2001

Marines set for a change of 'cammies'


WASHINGTON -- The Marine Corps soon will be donning new camouflage field uniforms that look more like modern art than traditional "cammies."

The new uniforms have a computer-generated pixel pattern instead of the
splotches of green, brown and black of the standard battle garb worn by all
the services. The pattern is similar to the pointillism style used by Impressionist painters a century ago.

The change in cammies was initiated by the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James L. Jones, who wanted his Marines to be as distinctive in their battle dress as they are in their trademark dress blues.

As with any change, the new cammies drew protests from some older
Marines. But a former Marine sergeant responding in a letter to Leatherneck 
magazine put it this way: "I'd rather be ugly and alive than pretty and dead."

Still ahead for the Marines is a change in field boots to a rough-finished
leather that will not have to be shined.

The new uniforms were tested at the Corps' scout-sniper school and by
technicians at the Soldiers Support Center at Natick, Mass., and were found
to be more effective in hiding troops in the field, said Maj. Gabe Patricio, a
project officer at the Marine Corps Systems Command.

They also have padding at the knees and elbows, pockets in the upper
sleeves and angled breast pockets instead of straight. They come in green
woodland and tan desert patterns.

Prototypes were tested by Marines at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine
Palms, and on Okinawa. Those trials led to dropping the novel idea of putting
zippers on shirt sleeves to avoid having to roll them up.

Contracts worth a total of $131.5 million were issued to three companies to
make the new uniforms, starting with several hundred each to test production
qualities and growing to a total of more than 1.7 million.

The cammies should be available in Marine uniform shops by December at
$56 to $58 a set, roughly the same price as the current style, and will be
issued to recruits starting in March.