Procurement: June 6, 2003

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Troop experience in Iraq is putting more pressure on the Army and Marines to buy the best gear available, rather than sticking with older, and often inferior, military equipment. The hot climate of Iraq also played a part in demonstrating how some civilian gear was superior to the government issue stuff. The standard gloves, for example, were too hot. Some troops had already noted this and brought Moto-Cross or batting gloves, which were found superior. The increase in equipment hung from the waist has been a growing problem for some years, and many troops were happier with items like the Riggers Rescue Belt (which has Velcro fasteners and an extraction loop.) Speaking of Velcro, troops felt that Velcro fasteners would be superior to the snaps currently used on their MOLLE rucksacks. With all the heat, underwear became an issue as well. Some soldiers, had bought Coolmax t-shirts, which have better wicking capabilities (getting the sweat out and keeping the skin dryer). Silk weight underwear was another favorite, as were baby wipes and baby powder. The troops wish there were military versions of these products, with a more manly scent. Note that many troops had already bought civilian gear, and this was because many units had trained in the similar hot conditions at the National Training Center (in the California desert.) But the army makes an extra effort to notice equipment problems during an actual war. To the army's credit, they have been moving faster to introduce superior civilian gear. This was a trend that began in Vietnam, when troops first started getting their own gear on a large scale. After Vietnam, the army set up a program of regular troops surveys to find out which army equipment was not performing well, and which civilian gear the troops had tried out on their own and found superior. Meanwhile, several camping and police equipment suppliers have found a lucrative mail order market in army and marine combat units.

 


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