“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

CBU's - Sergeants Enter World of Fashion Design

Say Goodbye to BDU's

Battle Dress Uniforms are so "last year."

Now it's the wrinkle-free, wash and wear, velcro enhanced, slot-fitted, slanted-pocket Army Combat Uniform (ACU).

February 7, 2007
Army Is Going Wrinkle-Free; Velcro Becomes Norm

FORT LEWIS, Wash., Feb. 5 — Besides the hidden slots for knee and elbow pads, the extra room in the shoulders and the mod mandarin collar, the new Army uniform has a revolutionary feature critical to a nimbler military.

“You can just throw it in the dryer,” said Sgt. Donald Fisher, an instructor at this base for 30,000 soldiers about an hour south of Seattle. “You save money on dry cleaning.”

At military bases across the country and overseas, the era of the wash-and-war soldier has arrived. From Baghdad to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York, the Army has been retiring its old starched and pressed Battle Dress Uniform in favor of a wrinkle-free cotton and nylon version.

The new Army Combat Uniform — known, of course, by an Army acronym, A.C.U. — has been phased in over the last two years as the Battle Dress Uniform, or B.D.U., becomes obsolete by May 2008.

The change has largely been welcomed by soldiers who have seen civilian fashion evolve in form and function in the quarter century since the old uniform was introduced. It also has come with repercussions, inside and outside the military, that are inevitable when half a million people suddenly get a new everyday wardrobe.

While soldiers say they like the comfort, the look and the low maintenance, they complain almost universally about the Velcro, which has largely replaced needle and thread as the means for attaching patches to show name, rank, unit and other information.

And while some dry cleaners and seamstresses near military bases, long the invisible valets of the well-pressed soldier, have lost so much business that they have had to close stores, soldiers say they do not miss the creases.

Actually the new uniforms, designed with input from NCO's, were introducted on June 14, 2004. The wrinkle-free uniform have a digitized camouflage pattern with no black. Patches and tabs attach with velcro and are removed before laundering which lengthens the life of the patches.

In addition to the overall pattern and color changes, the ACU changes include:

1. Mandarin collar that can be worn up or down
2. Rank insignia affixed above right chest pocket
3. Velcro for wearing unit patch, skill tabs and recognition devices
4. Zippered front closure
5. Elbow pouch for internal elbow pad inserts
6. Knee pouch for internal knee pad inserts
7. Elastic leg cuff
8. Tilted chest pockets with Velcro closure
9. Three-slot pen pocket on bottom of sleeve
10. Velcro sleeve cuff closure
11. Shoulder pockets with Velcro
12. Forward tilted cargo pockets
13. Integrated blouse bellows for increased upper body mobility
14. Integrated Friend or Foe Identification Square on both left and right shoulder pocket flap
15. Bellowed calf storage pocket on left and right leg
16. Moisture-wicking desert tan t-shirt
17. Patrol Cap with double thick bill and internal pocket
18. Improved hot-weather desert boot or temperate-weather desert boot (no shine required)

Like everything else the price of these new uniforms ,$88, has almost doubled over the cost of the old BDU's.


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  2. What style did those Iranians wear while they kidnapped our guys?

    That's the issue the Army should be working on. Snappy new outfit, goes with the beret, so well.

    No ironing, no polishing, no attention to detail.
    No Victory since 1945, either.

    Maybe there is a correlation?

  3. Rat, we have to quit meeting like this.

  4. That was the solution for the Iraqi Police, when they did not perform to standard, new uniforms.

    Like the beret, nifty outfits makes everyone feel so special, undeservedly so.

    But it's feelings that really count, even in the US Army.

    Next thing you know, some smart ass will decide to paint all the rocks around the Parade grounds.

  5. Interesting piece about Rudy

    What is it about him, they ask.

    Comes down to just one thing, in the whole field of contenders:

    Last November, the American people punished Republicans not because of latent defeatism, but because of disappointment in Congress' and the administration's ability to get things done. Despite what they think about Iraq, most Americans still very much want to defeat the terrorists; they still very much want, as any one from Brooklyn might say, our boys to beat the living crap out of those bloodthirsty bastards. And so here comes Giuliani -- a guy from the streets who cleaned up a city; who always seems to be at the public's call when catastrophe strikes; and who very much has the grits and determination to be a winner. Because there are few things Americans like more than a winner.

    As to GOP fears about guns, abortion, faggots gettin' married, etc., well there is only one thing to be said about that:

    "9-11 Changed Everything"

    Even for "Conservatives", or it'll be a "Long Time" in the wilderness.
    The "Long War", forgotten.

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  8. Regime Change Iran, a nifty little blog that endlessly solicits for money, says:

    (Doctor Zin note: The current US broadcasts into Iran are weak and do not provide real time responses to the disinformation that the regime broadcasts to its people. Many of the guests of Radio Farda and VOA are supporters of the Islamic Republic. This has confused many among the Iranian people. How can we expect the Iranian people to rise up against the regime when it appears the US does not support them?

    Frankly, we need a regime change in the management team in charge of our broadcasts into Iran.)

    Live is tough, in Iran, most likely. We do little, if anything, to help.

    another voice in need.

    Tell the Iranians, do not "Rise UP" unless they can accept being
    "Cut Down", without any hoped for US support. Strategic, tactical or propaganda.
    The Bush Family legacy, with the Shia of Iraq, just the latest chapter of the US promoting revolution then walking away from the revolutionaries, once the turmoil starts.

    Weak sisters are still at the wheel. Charting the Course.

    the whole thing. RCI

  9. Greetings, all.

    Here a few comments on ACU's from one who has worn them 80% of the time for the last two years, both good and bad:

    The Good:
    1. They are comfortable as all heck; once you've washed them one time, it feels like you are wearing a pair of PJs to work.
    2. You DON'T, I say again, you DON'T have to press them, Yeahhhh! In fact, instructions state specifically NOT to press them. Yeahhh! It used to cost about five bucks to press my uniforms, and I probably spent about forty dollars a month making my uniforms unbearably uncomfortable. Most soldiers did the sdame, so this is the equvalent of a tiny little raise. THe psychological pleasure of a comfortable uniform, however, is priceless.
    3. The suede boots are more comfortable than any other boot that I am accustomed to wearing, about the same of durability as well. And YOU DON'T HAVE TO POLISH THEM EVER EVER EVER!!!! How many hours did I waste over the years spit shining boots?? I would rather not ponder it, actually. Other than wash mud of of my suede boots or put some waterproofing oil on them, I have spent NO TIME WHATSOEVER making them look shiny.
    4. They're "Free": Most units rotating in and out of "the box" get issued ACUs priot to shipping out. I have 8 sets right now, and I doubt I will ever actually have to buy a single ACU item. Ever.
    5. Cultural shifts in unform wear. THe Army issued black north face type fleece coats beginning about 6 years ago; until recently, those had to be worn UNDERNEATH a BDU top, which was the epitome of faux discipline gone awry. Now, with ACU's you can wear your fleece as an external garment, as designed. Also, you can put your hands in your ACU pants when your cold, something that has been frowned upon in the Army forever. Good stuff, in my opinion.

    And the Bad:
    1. They are about as durable as BDUs, which means not very. They wear and tear rather quickly, even more so if you don't wash and dry them properly (hard to do when you are deployed, by the way). Still, they are no worse in this department than BDUs.
    2. Skill badges: All your patches are velcro (see below), but skill badges (airborne, air assault, combat infantry badge, etc) are the old metal subdued kinds, which must be pinned on when used. Not a big deal, but it is a pain to fasten these things to a uniform. The old BDU's had sew-on badges.
    3. Pattern. The pixellated pattern (there is an actual name for it, but I cannot recall) probably works well in the Middle East, but less so elsewhere (ie in a jungle environment). Most people in Iraq (and definitely in Afghanistan!) are caked in dust from dusk til dawn anyway, so not a major issue. I believe the Army will come up with a modified jungle pattern at some point, though.
    4. Velcro everywhere! I am personally not a big fan of velcro, and there is velcro all over this darn uniform! Unsling a backpack and you tear your unit patch off. A sergeant told me that the advantage of the velcro is that soldiers don't have to constantly pay for new patches and badges all the time, though; they just shift them from one uniform to the next. So maybe the velcro, though I don't like it, is a good deal for the troops in that it saves a little cash for them.

    There you have it, folks, the 411 on ACUs from a guy who wears them to work every day.

  10. So, Ms Malikin is still ripping away at Mr Arkin, NBC & GE.

    She tells this tale:
    Marine Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell 20, of Bel Air, Md., died Wednesday in Anbar province in what the Defense Department described as "supporting combat operations."

    Capital News Service reports:

    A landing support specialist for 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Parcell often assisted in transferring supplies, food and ammunition.
    Wednesday evening, her family was told by Marine officials that she was killed along with other Marines by a suicide bomber during a sensitive mission at a military checkpoint, said Ray Fender, a spokesman for the family.

    Though the family does not know the details of what occurred, Fender said they were told Parcell was searching Iraqi women for explosives and had been able to detect a bomber.

    After four years, 18 months of preInvasion prep, the US still cannot find Iraqis that can search other Iraqis?
    US Marines, female supply clerks, are put to body searching Iraqi on the streets of Baghdad, at checkpoints.
    There are no Iraqi that could have been so tasked?
    What have we been doing for the past five friggin years, that these Iraqi folk are still not ready to search pedeastrians?

    Four years is an entire enlistment.
    Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette trained 12,000 men in a single winter.
    Surely the US Army has scaled up capacity, since then?
    It was the PRIMARY MISSION, training those Iraqi.
    Stand up, stand down, remember.

    ...A longtime member of Mount Calvary Free Will Baptist Church in Aberdeen, Parcell often volunteered in the nursery and helped prepare congregational dinners with her aunt, Martha Benton, a secretary in the church, Atwood said.

    How many more, so that the Iraqi Ministry of Health can have Clinics in Ramadi?

  11. I had a few guys who worked for me that would have done well with velcro applied stripes.

    great post Bob.

  12. THAT's a good point, deuce.

    Actually, the article 15's procedures I've been involved in where someone was reduced in rank normally end with the person removing the velcro rank from the center of his chest; very dramatic effect.

  13. Pins on the collar, in my day.
    Nothing holdin' 'em on at all.

    Except in Garrison, no one wore rank, anyway.

  14. Boots that don't require polishing! How's that for convenience? I sure would have traded my old boots for those.

    Nothing beats a comfy uniform, that's for sure. Singapore's BDUs are actually really rather comfy after a few washes, plus we don't have to press them at all.

    Velcro is spreading - just recently, my unit actually asked us to sew velcro straps on our BDUs. But they fall off easily, especially after a few outfield exercises. I'd much prefer the sew-ons.

  15. No need to wear name tapes, etc in the field these days; body armor covers everything.

    Most people just wear a subdued (glint) US flag and a Glint blood type on either shoulder.

    I only worry about the patches when in garrison, like you stated, DR.

    Some stuff changed, other stuff remains the same.

  16. Hey Deuce,

    that is a great pic of those marines taking a breather in WWII!

    I think if those two guys went out to a firebase in Afghanistan or Iraq they would probably fit in pretty well.

    Less smokers these days, though. Most people in the Army are more partial to Copenhagen "dip" in today's Army.

    That's one vice no one has taken away from all of us sinners as of yet (although apparently you cannot chew or dip or smoke in Ranger school, which must have truly transformed that place to hell on earth!!!).

  17. Bob, look at the picture carefully and think of the hell of the former tenants. Does not look like there would have been many pieces left let alone prisoners.

  18. Both sides, now

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks to The Associated Press in New York, Monday, Feb.5, 2007. Her latest book "The Infidel: The Story of My Enlightenment" is an autobiography which gives a graphic account of how she rejected her faith and the violence she says was inflicted on her in the name of Islam. Hirsi Ali is also a writer of the film "Submission," which criticized the treatment of women in traditional Islam, and led to the murder of her friend and colleague, filmmaker Theo van Gogh, on an Amsterdam street. ...

    ...These days, Hirsi Ali is promoting her autobiography, "Infidel." It gives a graphic account of how she rejected her faith and the violence she says was inflicted on her in the name of Islam.

    "I'm an apostate. That's why the book is called 'Infidel,'" she said ...

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations thinks Hirsi Ali's campaign amounts to slander and bigotry.

    "We believe that she will bring an increase to the level of anti-Muslim bias in this country that we saw her bring to the situation in Europe," the council's communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, said in an interview Saturday. "Unfortunately her message is one of bigotry, not one of mutual understanding."

    Her new colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute laud Ali Hirsi as a brave voice taking on a taboo subject.
    Ali Hirsi's book provides a graphic account of how her grandmother had her subjected to genital mutilation, sometimes called female circumcision, when she was 5 years old. The practice began in Africa, before Islam, but some African Muslim societies still see it as a requirement of religion.

    She also describes a time when she was a teenager in Kenya, a majority Christian country with many Muslim Somali refugees, and a Quran teacher cracked her skull after she challenged his insistence that students write Quranic verses on wooden boards and memorize them.

    "I started to call him uncivilized and backward and said he lived in the time of ignorance before Islam had come around and this was an outrageous system," she said. The man bashed her head against the wall.
    Unlike many world leaders, including Bush, who say Muslim terrorists are distorting the peaceful Islamic religion, Hirsi Ali said the terrorists in large part have truth on their side: The violence is in the Quran and the hadith, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, she said.

    Islam today, she said, "is not my grandmother's amulet-wearing, superstitious sort of Islam that is just comforting for the believer." Today's Islam sees the world as its enemy, she said. "And you wage war against your enemies."

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Hooper contends that she exaggerates to further her agenda.

    "She is just one more Muslim-basher on the lecture circuit," he said.

    One more bottle of wine, sweet Jesus, one more bottle of wine!

  19. Old man Marshall?

    That'd be a kick.

    The Old Man died, the son died, Anna's son died, Anna died.

    Leaving it all to Old Man Marshall & Anna's daughter, solely, by an AI conception. What a soap opera, could not write that script.

    Upwards of $80 milion USD was the last number I heard, to have been awarded, but not yet paid, by the Estate.

  20. bob w.

    re: ACU

    The USAF is still working out the details of its new BDUs. Seven years just flies by.

    What, no more buttons pressed through heavily starched pockets and sleaves?

    re: free uniforms

    Officers will continue to be billed as has been the case sense the Revolution. Thank goodness officers no longer a required to provide a horse, tack, and side arm and sabre.

  21. Deuce,

    Thanks for the redirect of my post to Gateway! When will you and Whit break out the champagne?

    Oh, GWP has up a thread on the "wank" Michael Ledeen. Seems the Iran government does not share Trish's disparaging opinion of the man.
    Iran Believes They Found Ledeen Source on Khamenei's Death

    Hmmm...Wank or no, Ledeen is in the news, which is more than can be said for 99.9999% of commenters.

  22. allen:

    My experience thus far has been that if you are deploying, you get ACUs issued to you, including the O's.

    Enlisted guys still get a clothing allowance, but at least if you're heading to sandland and get free uniforms, you can spend it on something else. Maybe one of these. . .

  23. rufus,

    When Franklin's beloved Pennsylvania infantry milita drilled on the commons, members were likely to show up with the family fowling piece, which could have dated to the time of Cromwell.

    The reason cavalry tended to attract officers was, then as now, the expense of maintaining that money pit on four legs known as the horse.

  24. bob w,

    I can't speak for the USA, but at this writing there are two large deployment kits stored in my attic, with a combined weight of about 150 lbs. These bags contain everything demanded for downrange deployment, including uniforms. When last I checked, the cost of assembly was $2,000 - $2,500, of which Sam had paid not a cent. Uncle Sam did provide the mask and inserts, however.

    No complaint is implied or intended.

  25. rufus,

    Charging is fun. As with walking, riding all day calls for the training of a certain set of muscles, albeit different than infantry. As any rider out of the saddle for awhile will attest, retraining is painful.

    Like Mongols, those boys of the Old South cut their teeth on horseback.

    Honestly, if I had to choose, give me a horse. I'd rather be a hammer than a nail.

  26. Allen,

    roger, I guess it varies from post to post; I haven't spent a dime yet on ACU uniforms (save for the name tapes and patches), and I have enough sets to last me a long time.

  27. bob w,

    It may come as no surprise to you to learn that the USA and USMC have done a better job with uniforms than the USAF. Around here, personnel are a motley crew, despite a reg requiring tans to be discarded within 72 hours of returning CONUS. Great idea, if only there were sufficient uniforms. To give you some idea of the problem, it takes five months and a special order to get some PT gear.

    Given the competitive nature of barracks life, you just know that someone will come up with a way to make his uniform sharper than that of his mates. I can't wait to see how its done and whether it will pass muster with the powers-that-be.

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  29. bobalharb,

    re: I'll come clean. I'm the father of the baby.

    When this thing hits its stride, a regular little ole cottage industry may come into being. For a half billion dollars, some people will do anything.

  30. U.S. gasoline consumption of 320,500,000 gallons per day (March 2005).

    One ton of swichgrass equals 100 gallons of ethanol.

    Average US production would be around 8 tons per acre per annum.

    3,205,000 tons required per day to replace gas on a 1 to 1 basis.
    Divide by 8 = 400,062 acres of production per day.
    Just 141 million acres or so would be needed. The average US farm is around 570 acres, I read the other day, so some 250,000 switchgrass farms would more than replace the imported oil.

    As I recall, rufus, we figured average cost of the distillery was around $3 per gallon. The plants being built processing about 1 million gallons per annum. Which takes 10,000 tons of grass or 1250 acres of production

    The magic number, then is around 120,000 plants, each producing 1 million gallons annually.
    So a $360 billion USD investment would build the 120,000 plants, a consortium of four average farms for each processing plants would be needed.

    May end up building bigger distilleries, but the cost per gallon of capacity would remain pretty constant.

    The entire project up and running in 24 months, for that kind of cash. Rather than mega military bases in the desert.

    That can't be right, or we'd not be engaged in a $650 Billion dollar "War for Oil", on a borrowed dime, to support King Saud, could we?

  31. In a generally well reasoned piece, ThreatsWatch analyzes the Fatah-Hamas Mecca agreement. That said, the reasoning is not flawless, to wit:

    (re: Washington Post editorial) “Of course we should wait-and-see. What would the Post’s editorial board have America do? This represents a commonly held American view that the United States can and should impose itself as the solution.”

    Nonsense! The United States can condemn the agreement as the Saudi inspired, Jew-baiting fraud it is without imposing itself on anyone. Surely, ThreatsWatch can do better than this.

  32. Do not miss Iowahawk's latest stage production, "My Fair Blogger".

  33. rufus,

    Moreover, under the right conditions, genetic engineering will have a major role to play. After all, plant life is solar energy. More efficient plants yield more efficient energy. Of course, this assumes the plants do not rise up and devour us.

  34. rufus,

    I think it must be said that even with complete independence from Asian and Venezuelan petroleum, we still must terminate our worries about Islam, because Islam is not going to go quietly into the night. Energy independence does not buy security from attack, only the impact of the energy component of such an attack.

  35. That can't be right, or we'd not be engaged in a $650 Billion dollar "War for Oil", on a borrowed dime, to support King Saud, could we?

    What about the benefit of this $600 Billion that will be invested in the American economy? And after that, all the new American biofuel dollars, banking dollars, transportation dollars, and other related industry dollars that will be reinvested in the American economy year after year?

  36. The real trick, allen, is to not let the "War on Terror" peter out in the quagmire that is Iraq.

    Either, by November, Mr Bush has declared Victory and is drawing down, or the Congress will have declared defeat and will be drawing down.

    The politics of none of the Allied actors, US or Iraqi will sustain a continued Insurgency past November.

    Without Rudy, there will be no more War, not against the Religion of Peace, anyway.

    125 to 150 million acres, nothin' for US. If mass production drives infrastructure costs to $2 USD per gallon of production, $50 - $65 per ton to the farmer - raw material costs of $500 - $650,000 per 1,000,000 gallons.

    So the stock costs 50 to 65 cents per gallon. Processing, as in micro brewing, is almost free, especially if we are burning "old" process for fuel.

    Be a good little business, capitalize out at about $4 million USD for the 1200 acres of farmland, the distillery & equipment.
    To produce 1 million gallons of ethanol per year.
    At $2.00 per gallon, it'd be around three years to even.

    No control of the ethonal sales price is possible.
    Distilleries costs will be fixed, running at capacity. No major savings possible there.
    Fuel stock costs are the only variable that could be controlled.
    Better buying, better farming.
    Big Green Machine

  37. Spengler is at his best.

    “A friend in financial markets observes that the world appears to be safer than at any time on record, judging by the cost of insurance against economic disaster. That is, the cost of buying options on the Standard and Poor's 500 stock index stands at the lowest level since 1986, when options on the index first were traded.”

    “If space aliens were to transport all of them to another planet Tuesday next, world markets would not notice. By the same token, if the Sunnis and Shi'ites of Iraq and Lebanon were to eat each other up like the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, and the Palestinians of Gaza were to annihilate one another, the impact on the world would fall below the threshold of observation.”

    “The present conflict in the Middle East is not between Arab and Jew, but between Arabs and Jews who seek their way in the modern world on the one hand, and Arabs and Persians who reject the modern world on the other.”

    “If individuals or indeed entire peoples are determined to destroy themselves, it is extremely difficult to prevent them from doing so at length. The tragedy, I expect, will continue in Iraq, as it did in Spain 1936-39, or the United States 1861-65, until there no longer are sufficient young men to put into the line. The world will little notice or care.”

    The Middle East is hopeless, but not serious


  38. We should not forget the impact of engineering generally. Engineers are not sitting idly by.

    Rather than government funding of engineering projects, I'd like to see generous bounties offered to successful innovators, including the government's own people from moonlighting. Let's say, a $50,000,000 reward for an operational prototype to double SEER by 2012. Oh, and foreign designs would be welcome.