January 3, 2012:
Britain recently introduced new combat uniforms for their troops in Afghanistan. The new uniforms were not popular. There were many complaints, most of them having to do with the new uniforms being too baggy and making the troops look like children's action figures. More to the point, the uniforms looked too much like American ones. Even more to the point, the blouse (shirt) is worn outside the pants, while British troops like a belt or, as some have suggested, at least a drawstring around the waist. The troops also did not like the use of Velcro in the new uniforms. The Ministry of Defense backs the new uniforms because they are a better match for the new body armor that was introduced three years ago.
The new helmet and body armor ensemble, called PECOC (Personal Equipment and Common Operational Clothing) replaced Combat 95 field uniforms and webbing. PECOC was designed for use with the new F.I.S.T (Future Integrated Soldier Technology) System and F.R.E.S (Future Rapid Effects System) combat vehicle family, respectively.
Modularity and weight distribution were major features of the new gear. The new Mark 7 improved combat helmet provided better protection, removable comfort pads, and improved retention straps. All this made for a better fit. The new Osprey battle vest had thinner strike plates which were more comfortable, lighter, and gave the same protection as the older protective vest. A 48 hour mission backpack, a variant of the British Mann bag with removable pouches, could be customized for different missions. Such pack designs have become very popular for military operations and civilian campers. A new multi-environment camouflage uniform with lighter colors and designed for an armored vest was introduced and replaced the Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) model used for decades. Work continued on other bits of kit (as British troops call their gear), and this led to the new, and unpopular, Multi Terrain Pattern uniform. The Ministry of Defence has no plans to quickly replace the new uniform.