- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) A few good men may be harder to spot as the Marine Corps outfits its members with new camouflage uniforms.
The uniforms, the result of a $500,000, 18-month development project, have a number of improvements including no-snag button cuffs on the sleeves, shoulder pockets and easy-care fabric.
They debut at Camp Lejeune this week and will be phased in, becoming the standard for the 172,000 active duty and 40,000 reserve members of the Marine Corps by 2006.
Called cammies or utilities, the uniforms also have built-in pockets for knee and elbow pads, an elastic waistband, an elastic cinch cord on the pants' cargo pockets and more concealable name tags. The Marine Corps pocket emblem is part of the fabric and doesn't have to be ironed on as before.
But the most obvious feature is the design pattern, which the Corps calls a leap ahead in camouflage technology. The Corps has applied for three patents on it.
"On the side of a ridge line or a hill, when I looked up to locate Marines, I actually had to search for them," said 1st Sgt. Andrew Yagle, 40, of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
Fox Company, attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, was one of several units that tested the cammies over the past year.
The colors of the woodland and desert patterns mixes of greens, tans, browns and black, depending on the environment are similar to those being used now by the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force (the Navy doesn't have a camouflage uniform). But the pattern is smaller, a collection of tiny squares like the pixels in a computer photograph, as opposed to the smooth-lined abstract shapes on current uniforms.
"It is a pattern about nothing," said Maj. Gabe Patricio, project officer for the new uniform. "It doesn't form anything. It disrupts the form of the body."
A gray-based pattern for urban use is being developed.
New utilities cost $59.74 for a shirt and pants, or $2 less than the old model. Billed caps and floppy-brimmed hats are sold separately.
One tester, Lance Cpl. Ryan Hercher, 22, of Tucson, Ariz., said he likes the new uniform so well it's all he wears.
Marines can save money by skipping the dry cleaners and washing the uniforms themselves. When the uniform gets dirty, Cpl. Hercher pops it in the washer and dryer and because it's permanent press he can wear it immediately.
One other major change, aside from the new pattern, is a set of front pleats in the pants.
"Everybody saw the pleats and said what are we, a bunch of fashion cats?" Sgt. Yagle said. "But they work. You sit down and they work with you."

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