Michael's Dispatches

We Need Better Pants

73 Comments

Pants-2-1000

30 August 2011
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
Task Force Spartan

Rip, rend and slash are all in a day’s work here.  Yet I have never seen so many troops with so many pairs of pants that are ready to fall off.

Pants-3-1000

Last week this mortar crew was firing at some people who were trying to kill us.  We have plenty of ammo.  No complaints there.  On the larger bases, the gyms are outstanding.  The dining facilities have ice cream.  Our troops are supremely outfitted and resourced, and so this missive is specific in nature and not a general resourcing indictment.  Generally speaking, we are good to go in Afghanistan, other than never having had enough troops and aviation having been an issue at times and places.  But overall, no complaints on the way units are outfitted.  Five stars.  The outfitting is so good that it’s embarrasing to complain.  My tent has airconditioner.  The showers have hot water.  I live far rougher (other than the bombs and bullets) on some of my vacations.  That’s a fact.  But since we are talking about pants in combat, it’s worthwhile to say something.

Pants-1000Combat operations last week: body bags make okay sleeping bags.

The troops need better pants.  For every ripped image here, I’ve seen many others.  Usually the troops will duct tape their pants together, or sew when time permits.  When your pants rip at midnight and you still have hours to move before sunlight, you might be wearing shorts and sporting bleeding legs before there is a chance to sew.  I saw one troop who had sewn his trousers with parachute cord.  (Must have used a knife for a needle.)

2011-07-31-121817-1000

The End

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    scarface · 7 years ago
    WTF...you cannot send warriors out without proper equipment! Even Obama has to know that!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Prufrock · 7 years ago
    These guys sure use them hard. Unsurprising.

    Are there available solutions that would solve the problem, without leading to supply-line problems or increasing pack weight/decreasing breathability? I sure see the justification, but is this a wish or something that could be rolled out with the proper will?

    Surely it's not cost, considering that a day's ammo probably cost more than a year's pants.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Prufrock · 7 years ago
    [quote name="scarface"]WTF...you cannot send warriors out without proper equipment! Even Obama has to know that![/quote]
    While I understand the sentiment -- I don't think he's running the sewing machines, if you get my drift. Procurement...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Prufrock · 7 years ago
    Looking at the photos again -- the major source of failure seems to be around the inner thigh seam, probably from crouching and running.

    Seems like a crotch gusset and some extra stitching could solve most of the problems. The other photo, with a broken beltloop and some small tears is normal wear. Anyone figures out how to keep beltloops attached is up for a Nobel. Eventually, they just tear loose from the base cloth.

    Hey -- fund the new pants and build awareness. Ship combat-used pants back before they're a complete loss and sell at a premium as a fashion line... "War Shots" or something like that.

    'Course, if they're dropping hotshots of water and ammo together, I doubt pants are high on the priority list.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevin W. Moon · 7 years ago
    Ingenious idea to provide ventilation. If Texas doesn't cool down soon, I might rip my own pants.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    A&N · 7 years ago
    Maybe if we citizens could use our tax dollars to buy pants and other necessities for our troops instead of paying for expensive vacations for Obama and other politicians in DC our money would be better spent. Also maybe some of our tax dollars need to be redistributed to the families of our fallen men in this country instead of to Afghanistan where it is stolen there by our enemies. His name was Jake...Mike...Just another number to most but a dear friend to us. You are a good friend Mr. Yon...thanks for what you do. Take care....no more wasted lives please.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter · 7 years ago
    Thanks Miohael. Such a simple thing. We have good Kevlar, can we give our troops better pants, Or send over bridges of Grandmas to do the sewing! How are the boots fareing? I must say, the modern combat boot is a LOT better than when I was in, say, back in Civil War!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    A&N · 7 years ago
    He knows...He doesn't care.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Terie · 7 years ago
    Is there any thing I can personally do to get any combat pants to some troops?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Terie · 7 years ago
    I totally agree!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lorenzo Poe · 7 years ago
    The ACofS said that SMA Preston should be remembered for the ACU, so let be written. So let it be done, just like Shinseki and the damn black beret. worthless POS.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David · 7 years ago
    I would like to know the country of origin for these pants. Are the made in the USA. If they are then shame on them. If they are made elsewhere then shame on us.
    PS. Michael, the 234th over at FOB Ramrod is waiting for a visit from you, maybe you could spend a coule of weeks running with them too.
    Stay Safe
  • This commment is unpublished.
    AZ Angel · 7 years ago
    After 10 years and several versions, they still can't get it right! Bring em home!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Snow Man · 7 years ago
    Since when has the military been issuing plaid boxers like those worn by the soldier in the topmost picture? I'd have figured they'd be more like those worn by the soldier in the bottom picture.

    BTW, I love use of the cargo pants pocket for a bottle. It seems I do have something in common with soldiers.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    PineBaroness · 7 years ago
    Ohhhhh. I keep thinking about the moms and wives of these fine men and what they would think to see them grinning away in torn pants. As a mom myself, I want to get in there and sew those rips up :-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    HeartlessLibertarian · 7 years ago
    Pants ripping in the field - especially that rip up the inseam - is not a new problem. I've seen pants ripped like that on just about every field problem and deployment I've been on, going back to CTLT at Ft Drum in 1995.

    Multi-cam, ACU, DCU, BDU, makes no difference. Only ones I've never seen tear like that were the old heavy or 'winter weight' cloth BDUs. And I wouldn't want to wear those in the heat in Af-stan or Iraq.

    I think the solution would be to expand the reinforcing patch that currently covers the backside part of the crotch (visible in the pic of the sleeping troop) to overlap the inseam over both legs, down the knee, by about 2-3". Could get tricky, because you don't want to cover up the fly.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Timothy Roesch · 7 years ago
    You know, this would make an interesting book idea for students...do a photo story about wear and tear with experiments students can do to test fabrics, stitches, materials etc...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mo · 7 years ago
    This is disgusting.. we can pay for millions of soldiers to go to war and die for our country but not buy a decent pair of pants??

    WTF
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank Burt · 7 years ago
    This could certainly put a damper on going "Commando" over there. I would hate to have my nasties flapping in the breeze during a firefight. It can't have a very good effect on our image amongst the locals either. That said, I think it's awfully petty for some readers to be pointing fingers at the Commander-in-Chief regarding this. The blame lies with someone much lower on the food chain. There are plenty of other legitimate faults to blame him for without using this. So let's find out who really dropped the ball with procurement and fix the problem.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brian · 7 years ago
    Michael, everyone knows that when you take a knee and are all sweaty, eventually those FRACUs are going to rip. Sooner rather than later. Amazes me that we pay that much for a set of pants (seriously, FRACUs are EXPENSIVE!) and they can't keep my equipment stowed for more than a few missions. What makes me smile is that you put up pictures with guys wearing underwear. Most dudes I know don't wear them in the field. ;-) I once tore my pants from butt-crack to knee-cap on a jump and spent the rest of the night in the breeze, so to speak.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TexasTJ · 7 years ago
    Did these pants failures start occurring with the change from ACUs to the new multi-cam? I'm not saying the cammo pattern is to blame, but perhaps a change to the fabric spec as well.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    A&N · 7 years ago
    If it isn't the Commander-in-Chief's duty to keep our men supplied with "everything" they need then what is his job...to take credit for their heroic acts and victories and do photo ops and ignor those supply lines? Maybe you don't understand the duties of the office.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    gary mayes · 7 years ago
    need to get duluth firehose pants for the troops, well worth the money.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Will C · 7 years ago
    As HeartlessLibertarian commented above the basic problem may be fabric weight. Lighter fabric just doesn't wear as well as heavier stuff. Combat uniforms must withstand some severe environments (Duh!) and be lightweight enough to wear in hot climates. Lots of sweat and infrequent washing also takes it's toll. Some design changes, such as suggested in other posts, might help the situation. Give some credit to the Army folks who specify and test uniforms and equipment-they want the best for our Soldiers, too.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Neatie · 7 years ago
    The pants are just a symptom ... indicating a disease...like no plan to win this war...throwing our money down a rat hole to change a country that isn't going to change and to win hearts and minds of those who hate us. Remember why we are there? Incompetence and ignorance of our CC and maybe even more is the problem...the pants are just another reminder of what is going on...and it isn't good. Our men are the best...they are the good guys and they sure don't deserve what they are getting...being made sitting ducks for the politician's benefit. What do you suppose we do about the pants problem Mike? Love to hear it if you have a solution...besides getting someone in charge of supplying our men with all they need in the job. The CC is on TV right now making a big Ike speech to the veterans about all he's done for them...The applause is faint.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Leyla Najma · 7 years ago
    Guys are rough on clothes but in the environment these guys are in there is no telling what they go through. But it does look sexy!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike L · 7 years ago
    Johnny, I believe all of these are pictures of US troops, even the Air Force guy with no Flag patch on the bottom.

    Having spent my career in coveralls, I can vouch that the finest fabric in the world, save for something that doesn't breathe, is going to rip...and going to rip right there. Duct tape sewing is unfortunately the general solution, until later. I do like the idea of giving this problem to some HS/College students and seeing if they can design a better pant. Or better yet, give it to Under Armor...I'm sure they could figure something out.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike L · 7 years ago
    Yeah...the Air Force Controller is showing his left shoulder. No Flag patch there. As I was...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Old Grunt · 7 years ago
    For the raving loons above this has very little to do with the Commander in Chief. In my own experiance we (meaning Grunts) have been ripping out the crotch inseam of our uniforms since President Regan was in office. If you want to beat your politics go home and flap your jaws.

    The comment above about speedballing water and ammo in reflects reality. Your out on a long op with minimal supplies its hard to rustle up a spare set of breechs. Sleep in the dirt, crawl in the dirts, sweat, kneel, sweat, run, sweat and jump. Then repeat for days in what ever guuci pants you have and eventualy you will blow out the crotch.

    Did you miss the part about: "The outfitting is so good that it’s embarrasing to complain." :-*
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Roch Thornton · 7 years ago
    It's not the president's job to get involved in military clothing issues. That's why we have platoons of generals sitting around the Pentagon. Schwarzkopf saw the need for better boots in Desert Storm and made it happen. Michael has done his part in spotlighting the problem. Now some general needs to take the ball and run with it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jerry · 7 years ago
    One of the reasons that some soldiers intentionally tear their pants on the inside inseam, is so that they can relieve themselves without having to unbutton and/or remove equipment. :-*
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John - Capt in ANG · 7 years ago
    I posted this a few months ago in another thread. Troops behind the wire their entire tour wear them out just from sitting in a chair. Any deployed troop here with more than a few months will have faded, unserviceable (in my opinion) pants regardless of inside or outside the wire.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Old Grunt · 7 years ago
    98% of the time it happens when you take a knee and the sweaty material clings to your thigh tensioning it in one direction, while the seam is tensioned by your toshee going in the other direction and the material rips along the material next to the seam, not the seam itself.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim Tuttle · 7 years ago
    I think they should go back to the old ripstock or cotton like we had in Vietnam. Yes, the pants would deteriorate, but after submersion in Nam's mud and jungle heat for awhile. The stuff was much better than our soldiers have now though not as pretty....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brian · 7 years ago
    Please, injecting politics here is asinine. We're talking about pants! The CinC didn't issue my pants, the supply system did.

    I've torn BDUs, ACUs, FRACUs, AC2Us, etc. in the same way. Every set of BDUs I took to Ranger school was sewn up in the crotch by the time it was over. You get guys with big legs (especially big thighs), and those pants will rip out constantly.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Old Grunt · 7 years ago
    Been in the ripstops and bared the future family to the world. Certain body types are the ones that have this issue the most, ie folks with big thighs from doing squats, or genetics, ect.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 7 years ago
    From the field comes the truth and real insight as to the problem.

    Once the guys and gals in the procurement chain figure out the best solution it will be fielded, it may take a whole career for it to get fielded though, seeing how slow the system responds to such issues! 8)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 7 years ago
    I wonder if the Taliban have these same clothing issues :-*

    I hear they have the latest in running foot wear 8)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rich W · 7 years ago
    Calm down folks, there have been issues with pants in the field as long there have been soldiers (even back to roman days!). Heck back in early 80s with Reagan as Pres we were ripping & ruining our camos out in field, and that was during peace time.

    I'm not an Obama supporter by any stretch of the imagination, but this isn't his fault or problem IMO. It's an issue for the commanders/pentagon to deal with - if they feel they need to.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    RR · 7 years ago
    it's seriously not that difficult to sew those back up. I realize that they may indeed need new/more pants but in the meantime, the soldiers should be able to repair these themselves. a simple sewing kit with a needle and some thread are all you need. sewing up holes in your clothes is a very easy, simple, necessary survival skill, were these guys never taught it or they just don't think of it? Why replace the entire pant when all it needs is 10 minutes, a needle, and a yard of thread? why does no one have the common sense to just repair them as needed? It's not necessary to suddenly have a fit about passing out more pants or making them differently. Just need to get some sewing kits and take 5 minutes to tell the guys how to take care of it themselves is all.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Zulu36 · 7 years ago
    I was ripping up utility trousers from 1971 - 1998, both in the military and as a SWAT officer. Stuff happens in the field. I think someone should double-check the quality assurance process, of course, just to make certain crap isn't being intentionally produced. Otherwise, I'd just suggest that there be extras in supply for a trade when necessary and make sure the troops have a housewife available in the field for on the spot repairs.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Martha Brown · 7 years ago
    My 15 year old son used to rip his jeans exactly the same way, he had large thighs from doing farm work. I was always taking pants to him at school when they did rip out.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brad · 7 years ago
    No, the ACU started it. In fact the current pant includes some updates because it was such a major issue with the ACU.

    There is a new "Combat Pant" coming similar to the Crye Precision pant that should be even better. I like Michael a lot, but he left some info out here and left some of you commenters expressing thoughts that are already well known by the military and have been or are being addressed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brad · 7 years ago
    I think maybe you don't understand the President's role. I am in the Army. My pants rip. I'm no Obama supporter, and I would never expect the President to do something about this. Its a construction and fabric issue. I'm pretty alright with the leader of the free world not trifling with such issues.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brad · 7 years ago
    Yes, all parts of a Soldier's basic uniform like this are going to be made in the US.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    mech · 7 years ago
    Recommend cotton duck or cotton twill, talk to a pants manufacturer like "Dickies"......or Levi's. They have been making pants for years. or a permanent press blend. Quit spending money on what does not work.

    mech
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim · 7 years ago
    Knowing how things are done in DC these days, the trousers were probably made in China.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robi Akerley-McKee · 7 years ago
    It's the design of the trousers. They need a bellows gather/pleat above the knees on the front and more ease on the thigh. So when you take a knee you don't stress the fabric on the front of the thigh inseam. On my BDU's I'd take out the seams from just above the knee to the bottom and add a 1" bellows pleat (2 1/4" per side //. I worked on the firing range and was always blowing out inseams kneeling net to students until I did that.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff · 7 years ago
    The subcontractors who made them along with any other companies interested in a contract need to spend some time looking at how the rips occur and THEY should spend the time figuring out how to prevent them (as much as possible). Send them to the boot camps, the Ranger schools, the Special Forces schools and let them figure it out. It will obviously be an issue of how much money can we spend on a pair vs. what is the replacement cost for several pairs. I work outdoors and have much of the same issues with jeans....some are made to take a beating and others are not. If you spend more, they may last longer, but if I am spending a lot of time crossing barbed wire, I'd almost prefer to have a cheaper pair that is for practical purposes disposable. I am sure that good ol' American ingenuity and know-how can solve this....
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Violette · 7 years ago
    Boys laugh !

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