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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 02:33 AM
Original message
Army fixing uniforms prone to rips (Crotch Durability Problems)
Source: USA Today

The Army is retrofitting 1 million uniforms to bolster pants that have been tearing during the rigors of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soldiers in Iraq began reporting "crotch durability problems" with their combat uniforms in July 2005, according to the Army. Jumping into Humvees, hopping from helicopters and scrambling after insurgents have popped inseams on the baggy pants.

Rougher terrain in Afghanistan prompted complaints this past August from soldiers who said their uniforms gave out quickly.

"This is a result of soldiers working in steep and harsh terrain and literally sliding down steep hills and mountains," Army spokesman Sheldon Smith said in an e-mail.

Single-stitching has caused most of the blown-out inseams, said Erin Thomas, an Army spokeswoman. The new trousers are more durable, she said.

Read more:

Hello Army - I a female civilian could have told you single-stitching is a problem. Heck I remember my mom used to do a second set of stitches on my pants back in the 60's/70's cause the damn things would come apart if she didn't under normal wear. That's why I prefer to wear jeans.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 02:47 AM
Response to Original message
1. "US plants."
Where would those "US plants" be?
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underpants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 04:23 PM
Response to Reply #1
22. The 16 companies awarded the contracts to produce ACUs are:
American Apparel

DJ Manufacturing Corp.--Huntington WV



Woolrich --Woolrich, PA

Bethel Industries, Inc. --Jersey City NJ

Bremen Bowden--Bowdon GA

Rutter Rex---METAIRIE , LA

Fox Apparel

Sidran, Inc.

American Power Source, Inc.

Ashland Sales and Service --Olive Hill, KY

Caribbean Needle Point, Inc. ---Bethesda MD Minority/Woman owned

Wear-tech, Inc.

Tullahoma --Brilliant, AL

AC Fabricated Products
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 02:53 AM
Response to Original message
2. No, this isn't "due to rough wear." It's due to a shittily written contract, and crappy execution.NT
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Scairp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 03:49 AM
Response to Reply #2
38. This is so true
My ex was Air Force and when BDU's were designated as fatigues he wore them everyday. They never wore well, and if they didn't wear well in an office setting, I can imagine how bad they must be in combat. Just another sign of the esteem in which DoD holds the troops; they can't even provide decent uniforms to hold up under these conditions. Really appalling.
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Cobalt-60 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 04:08 AM
Response to Original message
3. Old fashioned shoddy workmanship
too much profit for Bush cronies and no value in the uniform.
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Thothmes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:12 AM
Response to Reply #3
31. Shoddy workmanship
What are the specifications in the DOD contracts for this clothing. The U.S. Govt and DOD in particular have a long history of poorly written contracts. Could it be that the trousers are sewn exactly as the contract call for. These uniform items were passed by govt contract inspector at the various contractor sites.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 12:53 AM
Response to Reply #31
36. And often "poorly" written to make sure who won the contract.
Many "poorly" written Contracts are often "poorly" written for a reason. To make sure someone the bid seeker knows wins the Contract. For example the Hubble Space Telescope, the contract to build it did NOT require it to be tested before it was launched into space. Why? Because at that time (and probably still today) only Kodak had the technology to do such a test. NASA wanted someone else to win the contract so they deleted the requirement that it be tested so the builder could underbid Kodak. Hard to prove but is suspected to be done more often then it is alleged.

Sometime there are good reasons to give detail specs, for example one way to minimize costs is to make sure you minimized the parts you need on hand. That is possible if all the cars you have is of the same type, but if you go for the lowest bidding, you may end up with 2-3 (or more) different cars, with different parts. To avoid you the bid is set to minimize these problems (for example saying all cars must use Ford Wheels, thus Chevy can not bid for its wheels are slightly different even if both wheels use the same tires). In many cases this reduces cost, you only have one set of wheels if any cars needs a new wheel as opposed to a new tire, at other times it is designed make sure someone wins the bid. For example if one has NEVER had to change a Wheel why say all cars MUST use Ford Wheels? Having vehicles all with the same wheel is NOT an advantage if wheels are NOT a problem, but it is a good way to make sure the local Ford Dealer wins all the bids and the local Chevy dealer loses. Specs can do that. How specs are written can be to someone's advantage.

Local Government does this more than the Feds, but even the Feds do it (as seen in the Hubble Telescope debacle). Proving such false use of specs is another story, for often the rationale for the Spec has some justification. Minimizing the number of parts on hand is a good justification, thus specs that state Trucks with Ford wheels only sounds valid even when it is not. Furthermore in high price bids, the government unit seeking the bids, often are lobbied by people on what to ask for in the bid. Unless the Government is careful, the request of bids might limit the possible bidders to just one company. Sometime this is done by the bid seekers themselves (to help their friends) and sometime it is done given that the bid seekers do NOT know what is needed so they follow what the lobbyists say should be in the bid.

Either way, something is wrong, wither the Military personnel setting up the bid are Incompetent (which is possible but unlikely), lazy (again possible but unlikely), Corrupt (Unlikely) or looking to help someone who may help them in the future (the mostly likely cause of this debacle).
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Thothmes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 07:55 AM
Response to Reply #36
39. I would agree up to a certain point
These articles of clothing were manufactured by 23 different contractors. Difficult specifying a contract that limits the field to 23. If the defective uniform trousers came from one or two of the contractors, shoddy workmanship is most likely. If the defective trousers come from all of the 23 contractors, I would suspect that the sewing specifications for the crotch need to be reexamined.
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lvx35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 04:27 AM
Response to Original message
4. They've been fucking around with uniforms. Have you seen the "digital" camoflage?
I was standing behind a soldier at Wendy's when I noticed it looked like the camo was a computer generated pattern...which is fine, but I could just see somebody skimping out on the durability to create the "unique recognizable pattern strategy" algorithm or some other such shit, so digitally crafted have things become.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #4
16. They want navy guys, on ships, to wear grey and blue digital. Insane. nt
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #4
24. Digital patterns causes the stitches to weaken
It might be true.
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lvx35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 11:46 PM
Response to Reply #24
30. Or just the money dedicated to the digital systems makes them have to skimp
Edited on Tue Nov-27-07 11:47 PM by lvx35
on stitching/fabric quality. The thought that hit me was the patterns might have information embedded (so they could recognize a dead troop by a body part and some uniform) which is fine, but I worry about the dotcom-ization of the military. So many companies lost money in the dot com boom by throwing away the brick and mortar parts of their company for the digital. I hope our military never makes the same mistakes.

edit: This is all just speculation though, for all I know they skimped just to make some asshole defense contractor a little richer, with NO added benifits. It wouldn't be the first time.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:44 PM
Response to Reply #4
34. It made my eyes hurt standing behind a guy in line at Wendy's.
I didn't like it at all. It's also obviously not natural. Wouldn't it stick out more?
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AndyTiedye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 04:29 AM
Response to Original message
5. "Wardrobe Malfunction"
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 04:41 AM
Response to Original message
6. damn it! -- i am never in the right place at the right time.
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Squatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 07:44 AM
Response to Original message
7. The ACU is crazy comfortable when your sitting at a desk
but easily tears in the field. It's a shitty uniform...

1) Unless your fighting wars in gravel pits, the camo pattern makes soldiers stand out.
2) It has ACRES upon ACRES of noisy velcro all over the place. There is no way to be stealthy and silent with this uniform.
3) The only authorized headgear while not in the field is the wool black beret. It's absolutely miserable to wear in DC in the summer.
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saigon68 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. My wife says these guys look like they are wearing pajamas
It is butt ugly and useless unless you are in a sand dune in twilight.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #8
17. It looks really stupid on lard-assed generals in the halls of the Pentagon. nt
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Az_lefty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #8
18. the feel like pajamas, soft and compfortable...
however, they don't hold up at all. They also stain very easily.
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. Your first two points I had wondered about
especially velcro - yeah really stealthy - NOT! Imagine being a sniper or the equivalent of a LRPP in Nam with velcro or the digital camo.
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noamnety Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 11:33 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. digital camo
maybe they thought our soldiers wouldn't be visible in incriminating photos taken with digital cameras. ;)
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 11:09 AM
Response to Original message
9. I understand that military uniforms are now made in the Marianna's. nt
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Which qualifies for made in USA right? n/t
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. Okay. LOL This all threads into the abramoff deals. sweat shop wages and conditions. nt
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 05:06 PM
Response to Reply #9
25. Wasn't that the place Jack Abramoff lobbied?
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. The one and only. nt
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JBoy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 12:00 PM
Response to Original message
14. The crotch wearout problems are due to Bush
repeatedly kicking the troops in the nuts. With his presidential-sealed, GWB-embroidered cowboy-dressup boots.

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BrotherBuzz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Best response yet
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xxqqqzme Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #14
21. he has that seal on insecure is that?
Is it on his underwear as well. Bet the cushion on his desk chair has it as well. He parks his ass on it every day. Presidential seals & flag pins....he disgusts me.
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Megahurtz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 10:06 PM
Response to Reply #14
29. AaGGgh!
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damntexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 01:53 PM
Response to Original message
19. They just don't like 'hanging out' in the Middle East?
Well, a stitch in time, as the saying goes. ;-)
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 02:24 PM
Response to Original message
20. Army strong.
The BDU hasn't been built that'll take the job on!
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olddad56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
23. Crotch durabilty problems. Don't they have medication for that?
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 08:10 PM
Response to Original message
27. I joined the National Guard in 1981, as the Army was adopting now old BDU uniform
In basic I worn the old Green utility Uniform, ugly but cheap (and 100 % cotton). The BDU uniform was designed to be "Camouflaged" and long lasting (IT was 50/50 Cotton/Polyester). The combination was much hotter then the previous Utility uniform. We used the BDU Uniform till after Grenada, where the shortcoming of using 50/50 cotton/Polyester came clear, the troops could NOT perform as expected DO TO THE AFFECT OF HEAT RETENTION BY THE UNIFORM. Thus the Army started to issue us, in the mid 1980s, 100% rip Stop Cotton BDU Uniform (and told the troops which still had the old Utility Uniforms, they could wear them until the new 100% rip stop cotton uniform were issued). These were much more comfortable in Hot Weather, but wore out quicker. A 100% Rip-Stop Uniform would only last three months of just easy use (But were comfortable in hot weather), the 50/50 Poly-Cotton would last for years (But to hot in Hot Weather). The Troops liked the 100% Rip-stop Cotton, but the Pentagon hated it given its short useful life compared to 50/50 Cotton/Polyester.

I got out of the National Guard in 1989, We had been issued three sets of 50/50 Poly/Cotton Uniforms and three sets of 100% Rip-stop Uniform (and I had purchased additional uniforms over the years). I kept an eye on the uniforms and for personal use purchased some Tan 50/50 Poly-Cotton Uniforms (the light tan color was much cooler than the old BDU 50/50 Poly/Cotton uniform through not as light as the 100% rip Stop Cotton BDUs. Just before we went into Iraq I noticed the Army had adopted a new "All Weather" Version of the BDU. It was again the 50/50 Poly-Cotton Blend, but with more tan in it for Desert use (and no black unlike the earlier Desert BDU uniform). This made the uniform "Cooler" in hot weather but given that it was still 50/50 Poly-Cotton it had to be hotter then 100% Rip-stop Cotton.

When the NEW ACU uniform was adopted I noticed it was still that damn 50/50 Poly-Cotton Blend. It had to be warm to wear. And the fact the Uniform was hot to wear would have had lead to problems with the Troops performing as needed. Again it was called a "Hot Weather" uniform, but that is hard to see given it is 50% Polyester which in know to retain heat (Cotton is much more forgiving a material when it comes to body hear retention).

ne last comment, the OLD BDUs had double stitches everywhere, except the re-reinforced butt and Knees. This also increased the heat retention of the Uniform, but only marginally.

Given that the NEW Hot Weather ACU uniform is 50/50 Poly-Cotton, I would NOT be surprised that the Army decided to increase increase air flow by adding vent holes and going to single Stitching, to permit more air to flow in and out of the Uniform. This all weakens the uniform at the points the Article mentions. The better option would have been to go back to Rip Stop Cotton but in the Desert color. This would have made a very comfortable uniform, with double stitching at all points. The 100% cotton uniform was very thin, but the Nylon thread that ran every 1/4 inch or so would stop most tears. The uniform would only have lasted a month in the Field, but the troops would be more comfortable and thus more fit to fight.

One last comment, the OLD BDUs had double stitches everywhere, except the re-reinforced butt and Knees. This also increased the heat retention of the Uniform, but only marginally.

Remember your rules when it comes to Material:

Basically, the more Cotton in the Uniform, the cooler it will be.

The More polyester in the Uniform, the tougher the Uniform will be, but the hotter it will be.

The closer the color of the Uniform is to White the Cooler the Uniform will be, the closer it is to black the hotter it will be.

The thiner the material the more likely it is to tear. Polyester/Nylon does not tear easily even when very thin. Rip-Stop Cotton was noted for tears, but the tears would be stopped at the Nylon Threads that ran throughout the material every 1/4 inch or so (This is what made it "Rip_Stop" the cotton would tear for it was thin, but the nylon would tend to hold thus stopping any tears).

In the 1980s, the US Army was still issuing Socks first designed in during WWI, these had been 100% wool during WWI, but became 5% Nylon during WWII for strength. Wool and Silk are the best material for absorbing Sweat AND getting rip of Sweat. Cotton, Linen and other Plant Fibers are even better at absorbing Sweat/Water, but tends to retain such moisture instead of releasing it into the Atmosphere. Nylon and other man-made Fabrics are very Strong, but are neutral when it comes to moisture (Polyester and other man-made insulation can keep a person warm, but poor at getting rid of Moisture).

In Vietnam, the troops were issued Rip=Stop Cotton Uniform for such uniform worked, but had to be replaced much more quickly then the thicker Cotton Utility Uniforms. In the 1980s the Rip-Stop Cotton uniform was also much better in Hot Weather but did not last as long as 50/50 Poly-Cotton Uniforms.

My suspicion is the Army tried to get 50/50 Poly-Cotton Uniform to work in Hot Weather again (just like in the 1980s) and failed again. This time it sounds like the problem is HOW the uniform were sewed together, which was probably adopted to increase air flow and thus make the uniform cooler. This all could have been done by staying with 100% rip-stop Cotton and have the soldiers get new uniforms every couple of weeks, instead of looking for ways to increase air flow. The Army has to accept the fact, that different Battlefields require Different Uniforms. In areas where temperature exceed 90 degrees, go with 100 % rip stop cotton, in areas where temperatures are lower, go with the 50/50 Poly-Cotton mix. This will increase the cost of uniforms (Do to Cotton's strength Weakness) but permit the Soldier to do his duty better.

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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #27
33. Why would they use polyester at all? It melts.
Cotton, even treated cotton, burns like nothing else except rayon that I've ever seen (knitters do burn tests to know what fiber(s) an unlabelled yarn is made of). Still, it's better than any synthetic which melts. In fact, our guild that's making helmet liners for the troops is deliberately using only wool--doesn't burn or melt, just goes to ash and puts itself out.

You're right--they should use different fabrics for different environments. It would complicate things, yes, but our troops would be better served for it. Rip-stop cotton with double stitching and no velcro for the guys in Iraq, wool blends for those in colder climates.

You know what would be a good fiber? Hemp. Sheds dirt, tends not to rip much, doesn't burn as easily as cotton. Flax (linen) would be, too, but hemp is easier to grow. I've knitted with a wool/hemp blend, and that was soft (it softens with wear) and hard-wearing. Hemp's not keen on taking dyes, but there are methods that work.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 12:08 AM
Response to Reply #33
35. Hemp is like Linen and Cotton, best if used knowing its strengths and weaknesses
Edited on Thu Nov-29-07 12:09 AM by happyslug
Like all plant fibers, Hemp, Linen and Cotton are great at absorbing Moisture (i.e. Sweat) but terrible at getting rid of it. Cotton is actual four times stronger soaking wet then when it is Dry (Hemp and Linen does NOT hold as much water as Cotton Can). Thus the Army in Vietnam used rip stop cotton, a very thin cotton so the cotton could NOT get to heavy with moisture with the strength improved by the Nylon threads every 1/4 inch. These did rip easily, but the nylon thread would STOP most rips (Then the soldier had to turn in the Uniform for a new one, or sew the hole up till he could get it replaced).

I have used Rip Stop Cotton and poly-Cotton mixes. The higher the percentage of polyester, the hotter the clothing will be and the longer it will last. The higher the Percentage of Cotton the cooler it will be, but with a drop is usable life. Surpassingly the best mix is about 10% Polyester, this strengthen the Cotton or wool so it last much longer, but almost all of the good characteristics of Cotton and wool (and other natural fibers) are preserved. The US Army wool socks were 10% Nylon for Decades (and may still be). The combination worked. The wool still did its job of absorbing Sweat AND GETTING RID OF SWEAT, and the nylon lengthen the useful life of the Sock.

I have purchased non-issue BDUs with various combination of Polyester and Cotton, if you drop below 50% Cotton it is like wearing a plastic bag, the clothing just retains sweat and you can see the droplets on the inside of the pants. When the Cotton exceeded 50%, the pants were noticeably cooler in the shade.

Please note Color is a MAJOR factor in BDUs coolness, the Green, Black and Brown BDUs I was issued just absorbed all of the heat of the sun, you notice it when you went from the Shade to the open Fields. This was true of even the Rip-stop Cotton (through being thiner and cooler, more comfortable then the 50/50 Poly-Cotton BDUs). When I purchased Poly-Cotton pants in light Khaki, it was noticeable cooler than the Black/Brown/Green BDUs I had used previously. The reason for this is that Khaki being a LIGHT Color reflects more of the Sun rays than Black, Greens and Browns (It was for this reason British Troops in India adopted it in the late 1800s and from there spread around the world with most armies by WWI). I mention this for do to the the fact Color does affect what a piece of Cloth can absorb in heat, when I compare two types of Cloth I MUST try to make the comparison fair. When I am Discussing Cotton vs Poly-Cotton I therefore MUST compare both as they operate in the SHADE, unless the Colors are the same. Since I left the Military I still buy BDUs for biking, hiking and other outdoor activities. I have switched to Khaki Poly-Cotton BDUs for their coolness in Summer (Through in the height of Summer I wear Khaki Rip-Stop). Most are 60% Cotton instead of the Army's 50% Cotton, and I suspect this help them be cooler, but the main reason is the COLOR (I like the Ply-Cotton BDU pants for their are thiner than Jeans and thus absorb less Sweat and keep me warm in the Winter and like the Army I like the fact Poly-Cotton pants can last for YEARS. Having said that Poly-Cotton (at least 50% Cotton) is the best value for Fall, Winter and Spring use. It is usable in Summer provided the Temperatures and Humility are NOT to high, but if temperatures and Humidity is high, even Khaki Poly-Cotton is to hot (and by to high I mean 80 degrees).

Hemp and Linen can be used to replace Cotton, both had been used as such in the past. Cotton only became the preferred product with the invention of the Cotton gin which permitted quick and cheap separation of Cotton Seeds from Cotton Balls. The Cotton Balls can then be processed into Thread by simple spinning, after some minor cleaning, and then weaved into Cloth. Hemp and Linen must be processed with more care. I suspect Hemp is processed much like Linen, but I have NOT read how that process is done. With Linen the Flax is first cut and then processed into long thin strips and then and only then spin into Threads and then weaved onto Cloth.

When I go to historical houses that try to show them as people lived in the 1700s, you always see Spinning wheels and are told that the women and girls spin Flax into Threads and then took those Threads to a Weaver who weaved them into Cloth. You almost get the impression the women and Girls did all the work, while their Husbands, Fathers and Brothers just sat around doing nothing. The reason for this is Spinning Wheels were expensive and every woman had one. It was a source of Income for the family. The Threads she made was "Sold" to the Weavers who had the weaving Machines, who then "Sold" part of the Thread back to the Women in the form of Cloth (No actual money exchanged hands, She gave the Weaver her Threads, he gave her most of it back in the form of Cloth, but so much of the Cloth was kept by the Weaver as his price for weaving the material.

Anyway, where was the Brothers, Fathers, Sons and Husbands? Hunting in the Woods? Playing Games in the Fields? Dressing and Undressing (to much Monty-Python for me)? No, they had part in the process of the Cloth. They cut the Flax and then took it to the barn where their equivalent of the Spinning Wheel was. It was a flat piece of wood with dozens of nails nailed upward through the wood. This was also secured to something solid, for the men had the duty to take the Flax, slam it down onto this collection of nails and then pull the flax through the collection of nails. The men did this all day long, flipping the Flax to make sure BOTH ends of the Flax went through the Collection of Nails. The whole purpose of this was to make the flax thiner and thiner, for the thiner the flax was the better quality the thread it was to become would be. The men ran any flax plant through this collection of nails DOZENS of time before it was fit for their Sisters/mothers/Wives/Daughters could spin it into Thread.

Now farmers were know to re-cycle things they could and hold onto things they used in the past, but no longer had a use for. With the advent of the Cotton Gin, you no longer had to bet Flax into Thread, cotton could be made into thread and Cloth at much lower prices. Thus as Cotton expanded its use after 1800, the above processed tended to be undermined. Women kept their Spinning wheels for they had no other use for them, while the men took apart the collection of nails and reused the nails for various projects around the farm. Thus the Collection of nails disappeared (for the farmers had another use for the nails) but Spinning wheels survived for very few people had another use for the parts of the Spinning wheel.

I go into the above to show you the difference is HOW cotton and linen are made into cloth. Linen (and I suspect Hemp) takes more effort to make into thread and cloth. This was the main reason Hemp and linen declined is usage from the early 1800s till today. On the other hand Linen (and I suspect Hemp) are very long fibers, sometimes a couple of feet long (Hemp longer then Linen do to Hemp being from a larger growing plant). Cotton is a very short fiber, rarely more then several inches. When strength and the ability to slide over other clothing was needed linen was used (Silk fibers are even longer, but much more expensive, so linen was preferred, Nylon has even longer fibers but none of the absorption ability of the Natural Fibers, Kevlar fibers is even longer and why it was the preferred material in body armor, the fibers spread out the pull of the bullet, making the material more resistant to tears from bullets and other sources). Please note artificial threads are known to be degradable in direct sunlight, Nylon for example will last less then a month if exposed to direct sun light. Thus even since Nylon was invented in the 1930s it MUST be coated with a material that reflects sunlight, with such a coating it can last for decades. Natural Fibers work well in Sunlight.

Hemp as a Cloth is just inferior to Linen and Cotton. The Chief reason for this is Hemp does NOT slide as easily as Cotton or Linen. Cotton and Linen will slide easily over a smooth surface (Through in this regard Silk is considered Better), but this inferior ability to slide is also Hemp's Strength. It was the main reason Hemp was the main material for Ropes for Centuries.

When I was in the Army, the Army insisted on using Hemp rope on the tie downs of all of its trucks. The reason for this is Hemp not only does NOT Stretch as much as any other natural fiber (i.e Cotton or Linen), its surface resist sliding against itself or any other surface. Thus you can tie down a Army's truck cloth top with a easy and quick tie down relying on this Resistance to slide. You pulled the rope, pulled the rope underneath the tie down, and around the top and back underneath. You then pulled the rope through the V shaped opening at the rear of the tie down till it would go no further. Let me describe the Metal Tie-down on a army 2 1/2 truck (Each truck had 6, three on each side). The Metal tie down was solid piece of Steel that attached to the outside bed of the truck, turned to the Front of the truck and then made a circle for the rope to go around then back to itself (Completing the Circle) and then away from itself to form a open V. The tie-down was about 2-4 inches in size, through the metal probably ran about 12 inches total for it ran back, around and forward within about 4 cubic inches.

Hemp rope could use these tie downs, all you did was run the rope around the tie down and then through the V, till it could go no further. The Resistance of Hemp to slide kept the rope tied down till someone came around to untie the rope by reversing the above action. Nylon Ropes were stronger, but could NOT be used in such tie-downs (The rope would slide and undo itself). The Army wanted to be able to undo the Tarps quickly, thus knots were avoided in this application. This Resistance to sliding is Hemp's big advantage over other materials, and used in applications when this Resistance is needed to this day (as in Army 2 1/2 ton Trucks tarps).

My point, is Hemp is a very good material, but Cotton and Linen are better for clothing, but it has its place where Resistance to sliding is needed. Nylon is much stronger, but it is slick and thus slides.

I know a long talk to get to the point of NOT using Hemp, but when you advocate something know its weakness (Which is often its Strengths), in the case of Hemp, its greater Resistance to sliding makes in a poor choice for Clothing, but the same Resistance makes it a good choice for ropes and other applications where such Resistance is needed or just wanted.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 09:37 AM
Response to Reply #35
40. I've been a spinner for twenty years. I know what you're talking about.
It all depends on how much processing the hemp's gotten. You're right--men were in charge of retting and hackeling and hetcheling (hackles were also called brakes) for the most part while women were in charge of doing the finer hetcheling (it's like combing the fibers, and now the combs are used on wool as well), spinning, and often, but not always, weaving. Of course, this is all very culture dependant. The very first fibers spun into thread were hemp, and it often is hard to distinguish between hemp and linen in the finished product. There's little difference in resistance in fully processed hemp (which rope isn't) and linen.

You're right about moisture absorbtion, though. That's why I'm thinking of blends to get the best out of each fiber. With the machine processes available today, hemp can be blended (and often is) with cotton, wool, bamboo, and all sorts of other fibers. That way, you get the strength of hemp combined with the moisture absorbtion of cotton or wool or whatever.

Most sock yarn these days is a wool/nylon blend. It helps with wear and tear at the stress points (heels and balls of the feet and, depending on the wearer, the Achilles tendon). Some spinners are against it, though, thinking that, under stress, the nylon fibers actually cut the wool ones and also don't allow the wool to felt easily. I've made socks out of 100% wool and wool/nylon blends and haven't noticed any difference in longevity, so I'm not sure about the difference. Adding nylon also makes the final yarn cheaper, since good wool's more expensive than nylon, so that might be another part of the equation for yarn companies.

The reality is, no uniform's going to last much in Iraq. The sandblasting wind alone will wear away at the fibers, let alone the jumping, sliding, etc. I think they need to get people who really know their fibers and all more involved, as well as clothing designers. I look at those uniforms and think that there has to be a better way, a better fabric and a better design.

Oh, and my daughter's coat uses weak magnets, not velcro, for the closure over the zipper. Would those be a good idea or a bad one for the soldiers? I saw that this morning and realized that makes her coat almost silent in operating, plus it doesn't catch on anything. The magnets are underneath the fabric, so there's no snapping sound. I don't know what-all a soldier would have in the pockets, though, so I don't know if magnets would be bad.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #40
41. If you look at the pants, there is no change (Except Color) from the old BDUs
Edited on Thu Nov-29-07 12:49 PM by happyslug
And these can be traced back to the combat uniforms of Vietnam (and in some aspects WWII). The pockets above the knees were first used by parachutists during WWII for extra storage. I have found that you can NOT put light items in them, but not heavy items (Heavy items tend to pull the pants DOWN. Thus socks, gloves etc end up in these pockets.

The fly is old fashion buttons (i.e. NO Zipper, you button the fly). The reason for this was if the zipper breaks in the field, how do you repair it? The answer is you don't, thus buttons were preferred (You can replace the button with needle and thread and a "quick stitch" meant as emergency repair NOT permanent repair). I was once issued 1950 era field pants (Which I still have). These were heavy thick 100% cotton over-pants to be worn OVER the uniform in cold weather (With or without polyester liner). These had even larger above the knee pockets with a tie down thread in the pocket, Zipper AND button fly. These extreme cold weather pants but were NOT water proof (In temperatures below 20 degree, water proof is real not needed if you have adequate insulation). As you can see no basic change in the pants for combat use has occurred since at least the 1950s (Through the green Utility uniform of the 1960s and 1970s did NOT have the above the knee pockets and had zipper fly). The above the knee pockets has greater use in Cold weather than hot weather, but other that the basic Army uniform pants, has not changed since the 1950s. It works (please note all stitches even in the Utility Uniform were double stitched).

Now the top part of the uniform has changed. Some time it is called a Shirt, other times a Jacket. It also did not change from the 1950s (but did change drastically with the adoption of the ACU Uniform). Again the Utility Uniform was an exception to the rule. the top of the utility uniform was designed to be pucked into the pants like a dress shirt, all other uniforms tops were to be worn outside the pants. In the 1950s onward the various tops has four pockets for various items the soldier wanted to carry. Access to these pockets were often restricted by a soldier's web gear, but he could still access them. Body Armor always caused even further restrictions to these pockets, but the use of body armor was restricted do to its weight and limited effectiveness. With Kevlar, effectiveness of body armor increased and body armor was more widely used by the army then it had been in Vietnam and Korea (the weight of Body Armor decreased how long a soldier can perform do to its restrictions as to sweat AND weight) Thus until the 1980s most units only issued body armor to people in the unit most likely to get hit, everyone else went unarmored. This changed in the 1980s with increase use of body armor related to the decrease in the overall size of the Army and the adoption of the idea that all troops will be transported by Vehicles into combat as opposed to walking (Desert Storm was the first war EVER where all soldiers on one side, the US and its allies, rode into combat as opposed to walking into combat, troops walked into combat during WWII, Korea AND Vietnam). Thus the adoption of body armor is tied in with vehicle transport, for with vehicle transport a commander has to give less weight to how the extra weight of the Armor affects his troops combat ability.

Now given this widespread adoption of body armor, the top had to change. The two bottom pockets were removed for with body armor they were useless (No access do to the body armor). The Collar of the top had to change so NOT to interfere with the body Armor Collar (Thus the ACU has a "Mao" type Collar). Because the army was calling the top a "jacket" and was use to the old BDUs NOT being tucked in, the new ACU uniform top was NOT to be tucked in either.

As to the old BDU top I rarely wore it, except when I had to. In hot weather a T-Shirt was good enough, in colder weather the old Army Field Jacket had better pockets (Thus I wore the top, but used the field jacket's pockets). The old BDU top was to heavy for a shirt and to light to be a good jacket (the rip-stop top was much lighter and "solved" a lot of these problems, but I found just wearing a T-shirt was better). Overall the old BDU top was just ineffective. Given that with the ACU the Army removed the bottom pockets, the Army would have been better going to a tuck in shirt arrangement, overall lighter. This would have exposed the belt of the pants, but in actual combat body armor or web gear would have covered that up. Going to a tuck in shirt would have made the uniform look better, while keeping the overall design in tack (i.e. digital camouflage from what I have read, mixed with natural camouflage does a better overall job of hiding a person then the old BDU pattern, especially when someone is moving). Just comments on the new Uniform from someone who use to wear the old BDU uniform.

One last comment, when I bicycle in cold weather I wear a set of Gore-Tex Farmer's bib style pants. It has Gore-Tex pockets. These are just a pain in the neck to use, for the velcro wants to always reconnect as you try to stuff gloves into the pockets (And this is worse if done one handed, as I often do as the other hand in holding onto my bike). The older system of two buttons on such pockets could be opened with one hand and once unbutton NOT a problem until you want to re-button it. Both re-buttoning and un-buttoning of these pockets buttons can be done with one hand with ease (unlike the fly buttons where two hands have to be used). Overall the buttons is a nicer system, but as you well know making button holes are much more work then ironing on Velcro (Especially true given the Army desire to make sure the buttons are hidden, do to fact exposed buttons tend to show up on anti-personnel radar, a fact known since the 1960s). While Buttons show up on Radar, cloth being more flexible presets less of a flat surface, and thus less effective at being detected by radar (also true of boots, thus the Army has dropped Black high polished boots in favor or suede and other rough surface materials for boots). Comments on the use of buttons instead of Velcro.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 05:24 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. Hm. Magnets would show, then. What about fabric buttons?
Or buttons made out of something else that doesn't show up?

You're right--velcro is cheaper. I didn't know they only ironed it on, though. That's crap--you have to sew it on if you want it to stay put, in my experience. Velcro's too noisy, too. There has to be something what would work better and still be cost-effective.

I keep thinking, while reading your posts, that there has to be a better way. Maybe the Defense Dept. should contact the design schools in the country and have a contest or something. They could write up their requirements, the history of uniforms and what they've learned (you'd be an awesome resource for that), and then see what they get. I'd bet they'd get something far more practical overall than the design they have now. They'd probably come up with two uniforms, though--warm weather and cold weather. I just can't see how one uniform would work well in both environments.

The Red Cross has reissued some of their WWI and WWII knitting patterns. Interestingly enough, we're finding that the soldiers like them still. Good socks (handmade is way better, trust me), dickies to cover the neck and chest, helmet liners, and trigger finger mittens are still needed and still being knitted for the troops. I made a helmet liner for a college friend's hubby was was over in Afghanistan, and he e-mailed me to thank me for it, saying it helped on night duty.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #42
43. As to the ACU uniform I do NOT know if they are iron on only
I have seen such glued on velcro on other pieces of Clothing, and it is crap. My farmer's overalls Velcro are sewed on (I had to look to make sure). I suspect the army did insist that the velcro be sewed AND glued on (But it is one way to save money). In cold weather I loved my Trigger-Finger mittens with liners, hands were never cold. Socks are important and when it was cold outside the Army helmet liner was excellent in keeping the head warm. One aspect of the BDU uniforms I liked was the cap that came with it. In the 1960s the Army issued to its troops what everyone called a Baseball Cap (For that what it was). Hard to stay on your head and useless otherwise. The Ranger cap, which it was called in my unit, was a much better design, it stayed on your head do to its design (Unlike the older "Baseball cap" which just barely reached below the top of your head, the ranger cap went down another inch or so. That made it more secure on the head and thus more comfortable. It was very popular with the troops. I knew several soldiers who wore it under their helmets. Officers and NCOs complained of this for the brim of the cap extended beyond the edge of the Helmet. To avoid this problem, many soldiers would were it backward under the helmet. Thus the soldiers could keep the hat in the field and it be readily available. I alway suspected the reason it became the style to wear hats backward was do to this situation, soldiers became use to wearing the hat backward, and when they took their helmet off people saw the hat brim to the wear. It was just a few years after the BDU uniform was introduced that I firs saw civilians wearing hats backward, and I have always wondered about the Connection. I have always thought there was a connection, but never read anything about a connection, but I suspect there is a Connection.

The Ranger hat had an inside extension that in Cold Weather help keep the rest of your head warm. Decent, not as effective as a Helmet Liner but good. Later versions had the extensions removed and non-official ones often had a place on the top to store maps and other paper work.

Anyway, in a Desert like Iraq, a light helmet liners would help. The US Army said you cold go eight hours in a Pair of ARmy Wool Socks, but most Civilian reports indicate you are better off changing them every hour or so. Even wool hits its limit on moisture absorption, and while it can still be useful after that point, a new set of Socks always feel better (Yes I carried a lot of socks when I go hiking/biking). All of these things you do NOT think off, but once you start to use them you see why people do carry extra socks, gloves and underclothing.

As to design teams, the Army wants a certain look in addition to function. Right now that includes a top that is NOT tucked in. This makes sense for wet weather clothing, you do NOT want the water to follow the tuck into the inside of the pants, but such clothing are NOT the subject we are talking about (After I got out, the Army adopted new Gore-Tex outer wear to replace the vinyl wet weather I had sued and had been in use since the 1950s). This replaced not only the wet weather clothing, but the old Fashion Field Jacket (Through the Field Jacket may still be issued, for I have seen it). I have NOT read any complaints about it (Except for the fact you could NOT sew anything on it for such sewing would undo the water Resistance). The chief problem seems to how to put names and ranks on Gore-Tex cloth? The Solution seems to have been to go to add on shoulder holders AND a front flap that shows your rank. Maybe a design contest would help, but doubt the Army will listen. The Army has it's own group that design Uniforms and they seem NOT to take to much advice from the outside. Maybe the better solution would be for Soldiers to redesign what they have and show that it works. This we can help Soldiers with, if asked.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-30-07 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #43
45. Socks should be changed with heavy use.
Even good wool socks get too wet and need changing. From what I've read, our guys in Iraq aren't getting enough rest and are on patrol for so long I can't see how they could change their socks. That's bad.

I like your idea of soldiers redesigning parts or all of the uniform. That's smart. Sometimes the Army listens, from the changes in the uniform you've documented. Maybe if someone came up with a prototype and then got their superior officer to allow them to test it in the field?

We're making helmet liners because there really isn't anything between a soldier's head and the hard plastic of his helmet (a bit of webbing that doesn't insulate, from what I've read). At least a liner helps him/her keep heat in, plus it protects the face from the sandblasting wind a bit. Which reminds me, I have to get mine done for the December meeting. At our last meeting, you should've seen the stack we had--over 20. :) Our guild president's hubby's retired Army, and he has a friend over in Afghanistan who is taking everything we make and passing it out to his guys. I'd bet they'd need it in the mountains there this winter.
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saigon68 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 03:40 AM
Response to Reply #27
37. Nice analysis
It points out the notion that there is no thing as a "Free Lunch"
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woo me with science Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-27-07 08:12 PM
Response to Original message
28. Is this propaganda
to show that our boys are well hung?
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Algorem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 09:41 AM
Response to Original message
32. Bush exposed yet again.
Like they're not in a hairy enough situation without this.
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rocktivity Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 06:43 PM
Response to Original message
44. Candidate for this month's "You Call This NEWS?" Award
Edited on Thu Nov-29-07 06:44 PM by rocknation
Given the current commander-in-chief, crotch durability problems should be EXPECTED.

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