Michael's Dispatches

New Britches


07 September 2011
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

American troops have been losing their britches in combat.  Until now, I’ve never seen so many troops exposing their hardware in battle.  Many warriors go “commando” into the fighting, meaning that in the name of hygiene, comfort, or perhaps in honor of the skirted-Hoplites and the kilted-Scots, they wear no boxers or briefs.  This creates a twist to the venerable question: Boxers, Briefs, or Commando?  The previous question is difficult to answer without controversy or even a fistfight.  However, in Afghanistan, what is known and supported by my own photographic evidence is that troopers have begun wearing knickers as backups for inconveniently breached stitches in their britches.

While the styles and fashions of war are eternally in flux and different everywhere, even within the same military and within the same conflict, war itself is always en vogue.  Insofar as clothing, in this war it’s poor form to walk into a conservative village waving your gun without cause.  In Afghanistan, a man merely going shirtless can be offensive to some ethnic groups. For example, Hazars and Tajiks don’t seem to take offense to shirtless men, while Pashtuns do.  In general, pantless men seem to be offensive in nearly every culture wherein men don’t regularly carry spears to work.  Yes, granted, somewhere deep in the Congo or the Amazon River Basin, someone is out there hunting with poison darts and climbing a tree wearing nothing but a nose ring, but that’s not here.

In this war of bombs, rockets, and bullets, suddenly finding yourself as a man with no pants can distract from combat effectiveness, especially while pushing through a briar patch on a dark night, or while sitting on scorching desert earth.  After all, if you don’t include things like antibiotics and sunscreen, clothes are the first layer of body armor.

2011-07-31-121817-1000This Air Force TACP is giving new meaning to “commando.”

And so on 30 August I published, “We Need Better Pants.

The popular blog Military.com also publishes my dispatches, and reprinted, “We Need Better Pants” within minutes of it going up on my website.

The response was immediate.  On 01 September, two days after my original publication, new knickers were reportedly on their way.  Military.com published: “Combat Pants Rushed to Afghanistan.”

According to Military.com, the “Line of Departure” blog reported on August 30 that problems with the durability of Army uniforms in Afghanistan are widespread. Photos show Soldiers loading mortars during firefights with pants torn “from crotch to knee."

And that’s it for now.  Let’s see if the better britches really show up.  Barring the unforeseen, I should be here as witness.


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