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Can You See Us Now?

8:32 AM, May 9, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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The Pentagon has been on a long and expensive quest to make its personnel invisible. Or something close to it. So new camouflage patterns have been researched. Several of them, in fact. At least one for every branch of the service, including the Air Force, most of whose people do not need to hide from anyone.  Still, as David A. Fahrenthold writes in the Washington Post:

 ... the Air Force still spent $3.1 million to come up with its own ground combat uniform. It was a "tiger-stripe" pattern, a throwback to camouflage used in Vietnam.

But it was not well-suited to Afghanistan.

“They were not designed to hide anybody. They were designed to look cool,” said [Timothy] O’Neill, the West Point camouflage expert, giving his outside appraisal of the Air Force design. “It’s what we call ‘CDI Factor.’ Which is, ‘Chicks dig it.’ ”

Finally, in 2010, the Air Force ordered its personnel in Afghanistan to ditch the Airman Battle Uniform and wear Army camouflage instead. “The [Army pattern] provides the higher level of protection and functionality our airmen need,” an Air Force spokeswoman said this week.

There is much more to the camouflage wars that resulted in the spending of millions to design several different patterns, some of which don't work while others are held onto with propriety tenacity by the service that designed them because they don't want to share.  

The story is about more than camouflage. It is a tale of how Washington shamelessly wastes taxpayer money.  A new telling, then, of an old, old tale. 

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