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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry Mullane · 10 years ago
    Going back to WWII there have always been trouser issues. Look at any pics of the Marines in Viet Nam and you will see numerous grunts with torn or badly worn out utility trousers. The problem is that they never are washed and the material breaks down after all the dirt and sweat works on them for a few weeks. Troops in the field would much rather be resupplied with ammo, mail, water, etc. than trousers (if my memory still serves me). I know a former 1st Lt. who served with 2nd Bn. 5th Marines who wore the same raggedy assed trousers for two months in the bush.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    simonferrer · 10 years ago
    The new multicams are essentially still ACUs with just a new camo pattern, and hence have the same problems the ACUs did. The Army apparently forgot 20 years of development w/the BDU, and when the ACU came out they made it with flimsy material and particularly cheap thread. Crotch "blowouts" [among many other material and/or manufacturing failures] were and are common w/the ACU, and apparently they have not fixed the problem w/the multicams issued in Afghanistan. By contrast, the Afghan National Army [at least until they came out w/their own digital pattern uniform] was issued U.S. surplus temperate-weight BDUs. While hot and heavyweight when compared to the ACU, the temperate BDU is almost indestructible. Some serious consideration should be given to this fact when the Army develops the replacement for the ACU.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe Myers · 10 years ago
    Hey Yon,
    I have the answer to a better pair of pants. Actually so much better that you won't believe it. I am a professional tree climber. My pants cost nearly $200 a pair, and take much more of a beating than my BDUs did back in my service days. I buy two pairs at a time, and wear them a day or two before throwing them in the wash. Two pairs last approx. 6 years of grueling abuse before I'll finally get a tear, and usually then it's minor, but I retire them because any repair, stitching will causes chaffing to my legs.
    These are awesome. Absolutely awesome...and the comfort level beats the hell out of anything else.
    http://www.arborwear.com/products/pants/ascender-pants
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JimV · 10 years ago
    It was a problem then. It's a problem now. It need not be. Cheapest bidder.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Capn Les · 10 years ago
    REI should be their outfitter. Ask for loose fit camo jeans.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Suzy · 10 years ago
    [quote name="Prufrock"][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...[/quote]

    Yet Bush was supposed to be on top of EVERYTHING when he was in office?? He was personally blamed for anything the soldiers didn't have, so guess what...Obama might as well be personally sitting at the sewing machine, because he isn't doing ANYTHING else except sinking us further into a financial hole!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    simonferrer · 10 years ago
    [quote name="RR"]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. [/quote]
    The Army has never taught sewing to soldiers, and even if they did, it's not possible to take off and sew up your pants while you're occupied on a mission, which is usually when you get the blowout. That aside, the material in the ACU is so flimsy that they defy stitches, and rip from the weight of the thread a few days after they've been repaired.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    RR · 10 years ago
    If you issued all soldiers a simple sewing kit with instructions, they would be able to hand-sew repairs themselves while on missions. it is not necessary to have a sewing machine or be on base for it, it's very easy and doesn't take much time. Granted, they might break the stitches again, but it would be something. And sewing kits cost very little. perhaps we should be adding them to care packages as well.

    PS lol at the bottom pic, peepshow time!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Walter F · 10 years ago
    I hope and believe that the producer is already working on a fix to the pants issue. Saw a story on the company that makes the cloth and seem to be good people. It is nice to hear that the troops have what they need and that ripped pants is the issue and not vehicle and body armor. I do wonder how long you have to be out in the field to decide that a body bag makes a good sleeping bag? Leave it to the GI to come up with a good use for everything they can lay their hands on.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    susan · 10 years ago
    Evidence that your pleas were heard. Good for you, Michael!

    http://www.military.com/news/article/combat-pants-rushed-to-afghanistan.html
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brendan Doran · 10 years ago
    Well Hello Mr Wiggly!! :-x

    this isn't news to those of us who had the first generation ACU's. It's why soldiers started wearing boxers after going commando for a generation at least (that's for chafing and hygiene reasons, not social).
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rod82nd · 10 years ago
    [quote name="A&N"]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.[/quote] Wasn't Bush the president with the statistically the most vacations ever? http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/president-obamas-vacation-days/
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James McConnell · 10 years ago
    Different war, same problem. I hope the boots are better. The new body armor is too heavy to even believe, let alone wear.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Suzy · 10 years ago
    [/quote] Wasn't Bush the president with the statistically the most vacations ever? http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/president-obamas-vacation-days/[/quote] The difference is, Bush went to his own ranch house MOST of those vacation days and the taxpayers weren't footing the bill for $50K/week beach houses. Just as the spinners were touting that Obama was on a "working vacation" last week (golfing and playing on the beach with his kids) Bush also spent time working on vacation days in Crawford! Michelle Obama has taken over 50 taxpayer funded vacations this year...and has taken her extended family and friends along, at taxpayer expense. Why don't you fact check to see if GWB did that too?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Suzy · 10 years ago
    OOPS, Michelle has taken 50 vacation DAYS, not vacations
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mary Cook · 10 years ago
    Darn! Those pics are the most fun I've had since hubby deployed!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob Hankinson · 10 years ago
    even in the UK, the people have heard about the pants: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-20 2891/New-U-S-Army-uniform-recalled-soldiers-complain-ripping-pants.html
    Sound slike quick action to rectify a problem.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    William M · 10 years ago
    I was a tanker in the first Gulf War and had this happen to all my BDU pants once we got in theater and on our tanks. I sized my BDUs in garrison a size smaller or more than I probably should have because it looked better to have a slimmer look. The problem never revealed itself during regular field training exercises. Only after getting out of the Army and being exposed to civilian experiences in long distance hiking and shooting disciplines did I realize how poorly the Army had prepared me to operate as a soldier, from even something as basic as uniform sizing, to piss poor, minimal small arms training, to how to properly use and carry LBE and the Alice pack, to proper foot care, etc.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Stephens · 10 years ago
    I did OSUT at Benning back in '81. Everyone was expected to buy a sewing kit, and to know how to sew on buttons and close up split seams. If this is no longer the case, perhaps it should be?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gismofly · 10 years ago
    Finally, the case for khaki shorts....like what the Brits used to wear before they became shy!

    All the best, Mike.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rod82nd · 10 years ago
    [quote name="Suzy"][/quote] Wasn't Bush the president with the statistically the most vacations ever? http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/president-obamas-vacation-days/[/quote] The difference is, Bush went to his own ranch house MOST of those vacation days and the taxpayers weren't footing the bill for $50K/week beach houses. Just as the spinners were touting that Obama was on a "working vacation" last week (golfing and playing on the beach with his kids) Bush also spent time working on vacation days in Crawford! Michelle Obama has taken over 50 taxpayer funded vacations this year...and has taken her extended family and friends along, at taxpayer expense. Why don't you fact check to see if GWB did that too?[/quote] No, I won't fact check that. You fact check it and post it here. Please use reputable news services/sources.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    FTM29 · 10 years ago
    My great Uncle was a soldier in New Guinea in WW2. He said that their pants fell apart too. He blamed it on the fact that they were constantly wet from rain and/or sweat and just rotted apart. The blouses were no so bad but the green twill was the woest material at that time for that problem.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Box · 8 years ago
    Michael, this isn't new to any of us who've served int eh Infantry. I don't have any idea except to maybe issue more pants too troops and up the supply channel. Problem is that pants don't break in your duffel bag, but while your on mission wearing them. I read where NATAK was working on this problem, and using materials like light weight wool. Sounds like a good idea. Wool trousers seem to work great! And they don't loose their colour, and are fire resistant. also stays warm when wet, and dries quickly. The Supply Chain is very important, and troops need to keep an eye out on the quality of their equipment. for some reason uniforms have always been less a priority over other items. You will always find fault and defects in trousers. I can still remember the OG107's rotting off of us in the Jungle. and the first generation of the rip-stop cotton BDUs were light in weight, but crap in quality. Thanks for reporting this issue. an issue that will never go away.. That's why troopers carry 100 MPH tape..

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