The clock is ticking on the Army’s final decision to bring back the World War II-era “pinks and greens” service uniform, but as far as the people are concerned, the votes are already in.
Out of about 32,000 voters who took Army Times' poll in the past week, 72 percent are ready to embrace a new uniform, while 28 percent said they’re happy with the current blue Army Service Uniform.
Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey has delivered a design and financial plan to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Army Secretary Mark Esper, he told Army Times on Sept. 27, and is now awaiting an official approval.
“This will come at no cost to taxpayers,” Dailey said, after exploring a range of options for purchasing and issuing the uniforms.
But some are still up in arms about the change, deriding both the time and cost spent on developing new uniforms.
Out of 1,000 comments posted to Army Times' Facebook, the most liked and most replied-to messages were negative.
“After 22 [years] active duty, I am beyond tired of having to re-outfit my military attire,” Charles Barrier, who identifies himself as an aviation maintenance technician, wrote. “A change every 50 years or so, OK, but every few years, that’s getting old.”
In the past decade or so, the Army has fielded two new camouflage patterns for its combat uniform, a new physical training uniform and transitioned away from a green service uniform to the current dark blue design.
“Stop wasting money on uniform changes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please!!!!!! We are still at war and don’t need new uniforms!!!! Stop wasting time and energy creating solutions to problems that don’t exist!!!!!!!!,” said James Fitzgerald, who describes himself as a former Army staff sergeant.
His comment received 275 “likes” and “loves.”
“Didn’t the blues just go into effect like [six or seven] years ago? Why keep changing the uniforms?” said Brandon Dietrich, who is listed as an Army veteran. “This money could go to actually training the troops rather than playing fashion show.”
The Army has been considering a move away from the ASU for several years, both in an attempt to give soldiers a midway point between the very casual Army Combat Uniform and the very decorated ASU, while fielding something that both soldiers and the American public could clearly and emotionally identify as an Army uniform.
“That was the uniform of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ There was a lot of prestige and honor associated with that. The American public identified with that uniform,” Dailey said last year. “We think that is more appropriate than trying to create something new.”
The blue ASU was also meant to invoke a sort of heritage, throwing it all the way back to Revolutionary and Civil War uniforms.
“If you think this change is just about money, I understand where you are coming from and why you feel that way ... but this is about marketing, not money,” one reader, identified as Da Ve and listed as an Army recruiter, wrote on Facebook. “The [Marine Corps] hasn’t changed their uniform, slogan, commercial, etc. This is about the Army realizing its decades of mistakes with ever changing slogans and uniforms, a fantastic SMA who is looking at everything from multiple sides, and an attempt to get our recruiting efforts back on track before we get to the point where ‘Bring Back the Draft?’ isn’t a story you read in the Army Times, it’s real life.”
Feedback from his surveys of soldiers has been positive, despite concerns about cost, Dailey said. Enlisted soldiers, of course, receive a yearly allowance to replace their uniforms. If the pinks and greens are approved, there will be a phasing in period where current officers will have some time to buy them, while enlisted soldier will get a supplemental allowance to purchase the new set.
Our poll is still open, so throw in your two cents while the decision is still up in the air.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.