Marine Corps says pandemic-related uniform shortage is easing

Marine Corps says pandemic-related uniform shortage is easing


Marines are famous for the care they take in their uniforms. Remember that ad where the minority and proud people in perfect blue dresses are the center of attention?

But for more than a year, Marines have been unable to wear the uniforms they would normally wear in some situations due to shortages of several types of clothing, especially casual camouflage tops.

Col. Wilfred Rivera, who oversees Marine Corps maintenance and supply policy, said labor shortages and inflation caused by the lingering effects of the pandemic are impacting private companies contracted to make military uniforms.

For a time, these manufacturers did not have enough workers. In December 2022, he was delayed by 4 months in the delivery of the green woodland blouse and tan desert blouse. Rivera said the Marines were also in short supply of other official clothing, including khaki shirts, running suits and blue blouses.

The Marine Corps, in particular, responded by reducing the number of uniforms issued to recruits. And since the troops often could not find new ones on the shelves of base exchange stores, tailors near the base began to repair so-called old cammies in large quantities.

The situation became so urgent that top Marine Corps leaders had to reassure the force that a solution was on the way.

In a regular update video last fall, Commandant Eric Smith, standing next to Marine Corps Master Sergeant Carlos Ruiz, addressed the shortage.

“Sergeant Major Lewis, I just returned from the Indo-Pacific,” Smith said. “While speaking in the field, several themes emerged from individual Marines and units. The first was Cammy. ‘We can’t get Cammy.’

General Smith said the problem will remain until manufacturers can fill backlogged orders.

“Until then, local commanders, battalions and squadrons are authorized to use frog gear and desert cammies for mitigation,” he said.

FROG is a special uniform called “Flame Resistant Organization Gear”.

And that “mitigation” he mentioned included giving unit commanders more flexibility in determining what clothing Marines should wear in various situations such as training exercises. .

“What we can’t tolerate is a situation where Marines are wearing camouflage uniforms that don’t serve them well, because that’s not good for the Corps,” Smith said. And there shouldn’t be a situation where the Marine has to suffer badly over useless Cammy. ”

The Green Forest Cammy is considered the default for most missions around the base and in training exercises. However, in some exercises now, commanders may order the use of desert cammies to reduce attrition from the green ones.

This became more common at bases such as Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, home of the Marine Corps’ East Coast Main Combat Command.

Lt. Col. Cassandra Stanton is a spokesperson for the command, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

“Commanders within II Marine Expeditionary Force, primarily battalion and squadron commanders and above, are authorized to make decisions to alleviate service capacity issues related to uniform shortages throughout the Marine Corps. ” she said.

In practice, that means each unit decides which uniform to use for a particular event or training, which could be non-standard attire, Stanton said.

Civilians may wonder why uniform shortages bother Marines so much that they take the issue to their commanders. But it’s no surprise to Marines like retired Sgt. Maj. Eric Lopez, of Northlake, Texas, is a 26-year veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan and was the top enlisted Marine in an artillery unit.

“We carry ourselves a certain way from day one,” he said. “When you graduate from boot camp, you look good. No matter what uniform it is, we take pride in that.”

In other words, it’s part of the psyche, the whole idea of ​​being a Marine. He says Marines aren’t particular about how they dress. It’s about doing everything right.

“So, with our straight uniforms on, whether it’s noncommissioned officers, noncommissioned officers, officers, whatever it is, we represent them to the best of our ability,” Lopez said. We look professional. ”

The Marines will soon be able to keep an eye on them again.

The Defense Logistics Agency, which manages contracts with the Department of Defense, has a new contract for uniforms. The company changed two of the three manufacturers it used and began paying them more to cover rising material costs and hiring and retaining enough workers to ensure delivery. did.

New employees will begin receiving full uniform payments again in January, Rivera said, and the clothing shortage is expected to be completely resolved by July 1.

He said the Corps learned some lessons from the empty shelves.

“Our supply chain has become more resilient,” he said. “Also, by empowering commanders to make decisions at the squadron and battalion level, we are empowering them to make decisions that actually work for the Marine Corps and meet the call of the nation, ensuring that we train as we intend to fight.” It also helps.”

By adding a little temporary flexibility to a starchy esprit de corps.

This article was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration reporting on America’s military life and veterans.

Copyright 2024 North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC.





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