« Voweling the Unvowela… | Home | The History Behind My… »

Why We Hate ASUs: Band of Brothers "Crossroads"

(To read the rest of our series on Band of Brothers, please click here.)

Luckily for Michael C, his two weeks of mid-tour leave during his deployment to Afghanistan coincided with a banquet in honor of our dad winning his high school’s “Teacher of the Year” award. Our dad asked him to wear his uniform.

Michael C wore his ACUs to the ceremony. (Though it seemed a little informal to me, civilians didn’t think so. A young six year old asked Michael C to take a picture with him.) Later, when I asked Michael C why he didn’t wear his dress uniform, he told me he didn’t want to be mistaken for the waiting staff.

He's not alone. Generals prefer ACUs as well.

Most of the posts in our Band of Brothers’ series deal with serious issues. Executing prisoners. War at its worst. Rules of engagement. Life or death issues. Take, for example, the very emotional episode “Crossroads”: Framed around the writing of an after-action report, Lt. Winters shoots a young German soldier, leads an attack, captures Germans, and gets promoted.

I’m going to ignore all that, because all I could think watching the episode was, “Damn, World War II era dress uniforms sure looked good.”

Is this complaint inconsequential? Maybe. But it’s equally infuriating. To me, and Michael C (though he didn’t want to write this post, he agrees with me), the current military service uniform is terrible. It’s ugly. It’s objectively not a good uniform (though I don’t have scientific evidence to prove this).

For those who don’t know what the current uniform looks like, here it is:

This just looks bad, wrong. As I wrote above, and as Michael C has told me, it looks like something a waiter would wear. My biggest criticism is that it doesn’t look like an Army uniform. The blues and blacks--in lieu of traditional Army browns and greens--make it look like something from the Navy.

Now, compare that to Lt. Winters and Lt. Nixon:

The World War II era uniform just looks better.

“Sure, those guys look good.” you may be saying, “But those are attractive, well-lit movie stars. They could make the Air Force’s uniforms look good. It’s not a fair comparison.”

Okay, how about this guy:

Unlike Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly game, Eisenhower won’t be winning any beauty contests anytime soon, and he still makes the old uniform look good. That’s how good that uniform was.

I hate complaining about something without providing an alternative. In this situation, the alternative is obvious: go back to a uniform inspired by World War II era uniforms. The uniforms that the officers and sergeants wear in Band of Brothers look terrific. They look noble. Better.

Just a thought.

ten comments

I told Eric that the Army uniform is supposed to mimic the Civil War cavalry uniform, but he still finds it wanting.

I don’t get the hate on the Army dress uniform. I was more than happy wearing Army greens as every-day Class B uniforms in the 1980s-1990s. They weren’t supposed to look good, they just made us different than those AF blues or Navy tans. It was our culture and the hell with anyone else.

So now there’s the blues with the light blue pants, yes, it does evoke back to history, and if you can’t appreciate your history, then you’re just not a professional. My two cents, the reason why general officers don’t wear ASUs is because 1) they want to be perceived as just another guy/gal in the field, it puts them on the worker-bee level, and 2) you don’t worry about spilling coffee on ACUs and you don’t worry about wrinkles. If I could wear casual polo shirts and jeans to work every day, I would, but guess what, there’s a dress code.

So what do you want to do? Wear AF blues that make you look like a corporate consultant? Wear Navy tans that don’t stand out at all? Only the Marines look good in service uniforms, not because the color and design of the clothes are remarkable, but because they put pride in their appearance. So again, why the hate on the ASUs? It’s misplaced. Step up to your historical culture, represent.

@ Jason – Some thoughts:

1. You said it in your first paragraph, “they just made us different than those AF blues or Navy tans” That’s my exact point.

2. I’m not a professional, I’m just a civilian with an opinion.

3. As far as “looking like a worker bee”, Officers, especially Generals, aren’t worker bees. This goes with our news series, “Our Communist military”. And according to Band of Brothers, Officers that weren’t in the field didn’t wear combat uniforms.

4. As far as history goes, I get that the new uniform is meant to evoke Army history. Researching this post, I read all about George Washington’s thoughts on the Army wearing blue.

But if you want to look at the US Army’s historical peak, its greatest moment in the sun, that occurred in World War II. I would think the Army would want embrace that era, its golden age, as opposed to harkening back to the Civil War era, when the country was at its historical nadir.

Finally, man, the WWII era uniforms just look better.

Just one man’s opinion.

I always liked the WWII uniforms. I wish we would go back to them.

As a former marine I don’t have a dog in the Army Uniform fight but daymn that’s ugly. At least y’all ditched the beret. Crossroads is my favorite episode of Band of Brothers. Well written and the back and forth is seamless.

@ Shreck – Yeah, it’s a great episode. That first half really is good.

Hey Shreck, actually haven’t gotten rid of the berets… as much as we all would love to see them go.

@ Jason, I haven’t seen any in awhile and assumed, I work for the Corps of Engineers and see lots of ‘green suits’. I assume it’s voluntary and it seems no one is volunteering. I could appreciate an elite unit like the Green Berets wearing them. Who’s going to tell a Green Beret he looks like a french pimp? But when I saw some maroon ones all I could think of was Prince’s “Raspberry Beret”.

A few thoughts on the “Pinks and Greens” and “Ike Jacket”.

Full disclosure—I agree that this is an excellent looking uniform, and I wish we used it.

However, whenever there’s a survey on the Army’s dress uniform, the surveys seem tailored to reinforce the previous bad decision, rather than to solicit actual feedback.

The first time I received a survey on the ASU was in 2007…and the survey asked us what we thought of the placement of the combat pin. Mind you, this was the first time we’d seen the new uniform…most wanted to comment on, well, the entire uniform instead.

Still, at least switching to the ASU was a better idea than switching from one shade of green to a slightly different shade of green. No kidding, that happened in the 90s. (On an unrelated note, please compare the green uniform’s cut and style with a leisure suit. Sad.)

The latest uniform survey, which I live-blogged on Twitter, seemed to reinforce the decision to field the ASU by offering even worse alternatives (tan or light blue shirts with bright blue trousers, for instance). I thought that, with DADT repealed, we’d have more fashion sense, but no, NOTHING CHANGED!

I should also mention that, with weight standards having been thrown out the window in 2005 or so, it’s tough to get soldiers to fit in an Ike jacket.

Nothing the army does make sense. Now I understand why I have only seen my army friends in ACUs. But hey at least they are ditching the UCP pattern and going to the cutting edge multicam…that I have been using for hunting, airsofting and paintballing for almost 10 years. Alriiight.