Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Fleet Sailor meets NWU

After yesterday's rant - a little more to chew on.

One of the great things about this blog is the relationships I have been blessed with over the years from junior enlisted to those with the best parking spaces on base. Now and then, I like to share what they send me.

From the Fleet - here is an end-user uniform critique; Shipmate, the post is yours.

The NWU is a nonstarter product of too many people making a single decision (the same problem we have with our ships). Which, if I may speak way above my pay grade, is a lack of leadership.

In my NWUs during the cool Spring evenings in Norfolk while standing POOW I would sweat. My Shipmates still in Norfolk, I hope, spent the $200+ on the gortex jacket for their NWUs - otherwise they are just as miserable on watch. The NWU is a uniform for no season. If it can't hack it during a spring in the mid-Atlantic region, I don't see how it can work anywhere, not even the climatic-paradise which is San Diego. I doubt most of them, especially the E-3 and junior have. Why you would give someone $600 months before a uniform is available I don't know. Don't give a Sailor money, give him the uniform! He will spend money on his immediate needs, it is human nature and nothing is wrong with that. There is something wrong with setting someone up for failure.

The Army gets uniforms. They know how to issue them, how to design them, and what accessories are needed for them. Why? They treat it the same as they do an M-4 or M-16, it is a tool to make you more combat effective. Soldiers constantly get to swap out worn out items for new items, with a 1 for 1 trade. Boots, blouses, pants, sweaters, anything. No money on their part required that I am aware of. Wonder why so many boots look like crap in the Fleet? Stop making us pay for them (unless you're in good with the LS's and can get a hookup), and maybe we wouldn't wear them until the sole had worn to the point where we can stick our toes through them (I know some airdales get their CoC to pay for them. But us black-shoes aren't usually that lucky).

Their supply system is designed for this even in combat conditions. All we need to do is 'ctrl-c and ctrl-v' give it a few years and the LS's will have it perfected for the Fleet. I like the Velcro, but it is obvious that when you're practicing noise discipline it's not very good to have. The ACU has a zipper vice the buttons for the blouse which fell off my NWUs the second week I had them.

The ACU is in every way superior to the NWU. I would gladly wear the ACU for the rest of my career. VBSS needs a uniform like the ACU, or even the ACS (Army Combat Shirt, designed for hot weather and still flame retardant). The boots I was issued are suede, but still steel toe, low maintenance, do NOT cut the back of your shins even if you don't get the perfect size, and keep my feet dry and warm (remember I marched through crap with them) and there are probably a dozen different manufacturers and thus styles to chose from, each Soldier can find the style they like the best. They also have the same tread as my flight deck boots. I have multiple options that I can choose from for cold weather in my ACU. From a light mock turtle neck sweater to be worn under my blouse--which I usually wear. A fleece zip up, which most Soldiers seem to favor, to a 'stay-puff marshmallow man' type ensemble which is good to go to damn near -100 degrees, and everything in-between. The NWU has a gortex jacket and a sweater to go under the blouse, that's probaby about 75% of my options there.

My Coveralls? I've got whatever foul weather jacket BMSN Timmy could find for me, and rain gear that is rarely every put in the drying locker after it is used, and I'm not sure if the mock turtle neck sweater is still authorized or not, but even that is uncomfortable. Navy uniforms are not enough, and it is hurting watch standing, period. My NWU undershirt is just a blue cotton shirt, the Army undershirt is sweat wicking and all around better quality. I was sent out here with 15 of them! 15! I was issued 10 white under tee's in boot camp. The Army trusts their Soldiers to have all their uniform requirements and treats their uniforms just as they do their weapons. Why don't we trust our Sailors with their uniforms and treat the uniforms as we do any other tool we use on watch? Issue each Sailor, by Command; their cold weather, foul weather, and all around watch standing uniforms. If they loose it, charge them, take it from them as if they were over paid. When they leave the Command have them turn their gear in, send it back to whatever clothing-DRMO is out there and get new gear for the next Sailor. This is NOT an impossible task, the Army does it in a war zone and makes it look easy. You can't tell me there isn't room for the extra uniform items. We already store the imperfect gear I talked about earlier.

The simple matter is that on average, the Sailor operates in harsher environments (weather conditions) than the Soldier. We're underway at sea even if there are no active wars. We're heading up to the North Atlantic just to go play with our NATO allies. We're out there on the weather decks at night in the rain/sleet/snow/ice just because we need to get in some training before ULTRA-E. Yet, out of every uniform I've seen ours are the least well adapted to our Sailors and the environment in which we operate. It is a disservice to every deck watch stander in the Fleet.

Have you heard of PEO-Solider? There is no PEO-Sailor. to quote a great man, " 'Nuff said."

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