Michael's Dispatches

New Britches: Part II

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13 February 2012

Our Soldiers’ pants have been falling apart.  In August 2011, I wrote about this from Afghanistan.  The news was picked up widely.  My dispatch shows photos of Soldiers with blown out trousers.

Combat is a fully engaging endeavor.  Many troops go without underwear to avoid rashes, and so when the crotches of their pants rip out, they are in the breeze.  Troops should not be distracted from killing Taliban while mosquitoes and briars poke and yank at privates’ privates.

Exhibitionism also leaves a bad impression in Afghanistan and in the Americas.  More amazing, as with the MEDEVAC travesty, is that after a decade of constant war, something simple like protecting privates was still an issue.

Two days after my first “pants dispatch,” it was reported that better combat trousers would be rushed to Afghanistan.

A week later, I published this follow-up.

Dennis Miller took interest, as did many others. American troops benefitted from this media attention.

Though there was significant press around my initial report, there was zero scandal because the Army simply said, “Yes, that’s right, let’s get some new pants.”  And they did.  All good.  Case closed.

Behind the scenes, I mentioned to a key procurement person that I have the choice to wear any pants from anywhere in the world.  Subsequent advice to me from special operations folks, I was wearing Crye Precision pants.  Crye is a far cry better than trousers issued to normal infantry.

It was just announced that the Army fielding the same pants I was wearing.

As you can see, support from readers is essential for this work.  These pants alone cost more than $200 each, and that doesn’t include the expensive stuff.  Thank you for your support.  Without it, this would not have come to light, and our troops would be wearing ventilated trousers for the foreseeable future.  With budget cuts, they might even be wearing shorts.  (The Crye pants are too expensive, though, and the Army has no plans to buy them on the next big uniform purchases.)

There is a lesson in this about scandal; there was no humiliation around the pants problem because the issue was fixed.  (We’ll have to follow up to be sure.)  Everyone makes mistakes.  Admitting imperfection by addressing the problems is not dishonorable.  It’s smart and gains respect.

The MEDEVAC issue is only starting.  If the Army would simply fix the problems, the issue would go away with away with a “thank you.”

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