WTFO: 4 idiotic things the military did and is currently doing

(Warning: Strong Language)

Let’s face it: you can’t talk about the military without talking about all of the stupid ideas that are regularly implemented. From a fire-team leader making his guys carry BFA’s (blank firing adaptors) with their combat kit to whoever invented the Army’s new bus driver-esque dress uniform, people have been trying to make their mark by implementing “retarded” ideas since the first soldier picked up a stick in anger (then broke it in two in some attempt to “revolutionize” warfare).

However, there are levels of stupidity in all situations. Keeping this in mind, I am going to go after some of the dumbest “wide-scale” moves in recent years that have really rubbed troops the wrong way.

1: ACUs (and other ridiculous camo patterns)

Back in 2002, the Marines came out with something far superior than what was available in any other branch for a change. Tired of the old BDU camo patterns, they copied the Canadians came up with a revolutionary digital camo pattern, all by themselves.

Insert Idiotic Quote from Full Metal Jacket here. Photo credit: Wikipedia

The pattern was actually quite good, with two sets for desert and woodland environments and all equipment being coyote brown (which goes with everything). They even found a way to print the Eagle Globe and Anchor (EGA) into the pattern, because Marines can never have enough EGAs plastered everywhere.

Feeling (and behaving) like children who didn’t get the same cool toy as their less well-off playmate, the rest of the military threw a conniption fit. Not one to be outdone, the US Army stepped to the plate, with the POG lab weenies at Natick scrambling to find the next big pattern.

Unfortunately, the US Army ignored multiple patterns (including one that they would later adopt) in exchange for a pale gray pattern that was 1/3 gravel pit, 1/3 baby vomit and 1/3 couch.

ACU pattern couch
The only time an Soldier was saved by ACU, ever.

Seeing it as a source of income and recruiting power to go with its equally stupid GENIUS “Army Strong” campaign, the army grabbed ACU by the horns and held on for dear life, dooming Army troops to a life of poor concealment and crappy deployment photos for about a decade.

 People complained. A lot. However, the army never really listened because, well, army and all that. Someone had made their mark with the uniform, just as the idiot genius General had with the black beret (later stepping up his screwing over of soldiers to the next level by becoming head of the VA).

After a few years of watching with bewilderment as Marines kept getting all the roles in video games and airsofters were looking far better-equipped for warfare, the army switched to a knockoff home-brew of Multicam.

But the stupidity doesn’t stop there. Not wanting to be left out of the show, the Air Force and Navy decided they wanted to join the “stupid camo” contest. The Air Force adopted a bizarre tiger stripe pattern in ACU colors, which actually worked out okay since the USAF considers walking on a gravel road to be “operations in rough terrain”.

Air Force c
“Hey, we’re pretty much soldiers.” Photo credit: DOD

 The Navy adopted a camo pattern of blue digital squares. I would say this is original, but let’s be real here, they basically stole it from that Van Damme Street Fighter Movie.

To be fair, he did command a boat in that movie. (GIS)
To be fair, he did command a boat in that movie. (GIS)


2: The F-35 and retiring the A-10

Okay, I’m going to admit a little bias on this one. Anyone and everyone who knows me knows that I adore the A-10, possibly to an unhealthy level.

People look at us funny, but our love is pure.
People look at us funny, but our love is pure.

When the USAF said that the F-35 was going to take over the role of the A-10, it ignited a firestorm among ground troops and the hog’s adoring civilian fans. Even politicians saw the folly of replacing a cheap, effective Close Air Support platform with an absurdly expensive, underachieving tech-orgy that’s only crowning achievements have (and probably will) be fires and saving the world in Ender’s Game by not using it’s firepower but by flying into its target.

Ender's Game is a 2013 American science fiction action film based on the novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card.
Ender’s Game is a 2013 American science fiction action film based on the novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card.

Feeling the burn from troops and politicians alike, Lockheed Martin sent newly-acquired girlfriend General Mark Welsh a request to nip the situation in the bud by releasing a policy letter- effectively prohibiting airmen from speaking ill of the F-35. All A-10 promotion has been downplayed since, with a feature documentary about the usefulness of the Hog only seeing the light of day after it was leaked. Numerous accounts of F-35 failures to meet the A-10s (or any current aircraft’s) roles have been suppressed as much as possible. Unfortunately for the USAF, the most high-tech branch of the military has difficulty understanding that nothing is private anymore when it comes to the internet.

Fortunately, this situation is reversible, as the end-result hasn’t happened yet. Unfortunately, it is probably going to happen because the USAF forgets that it is responsible for protecting those filthy, icky, foul-mouthed rifle carrying miscreants on the ground below. Needless to say, the F-35 program is going to cost more than just money.

3: That one pair of Protective Eye-wear that might kill you

At one point these were standard issue protective eye wear.
At one point these were standard issue protective eye wear.

Where is your eye-pro?! Just kidding, I don’t really care. Heck, I hardly ever wore them. Unless you’re in the rear with the gear, you generally can’t take good care of them, let alone replace them when they get scuffed up and impair your vision between any time other than high noon.

But they save lives! Sure, of course they do. They also seem to get bigger every year. From the slim shades of olde to the near hockey face mask of required PPE today, the eyepro has had a love-hate relationship among ground troops. But one (approved) type of eyewear in particular has earned the ire of both parties:

Created by a company that has my phone number (and therefore will remain nameless), these sunglasses-goggle hybrids were issued almost as soon as they came out. Not only were they uncomfortable, they featured removable lenses, which could be removed by applying pressure in the direction of where your eyes would normally be. I think you get the gist of what I’m saying.

Needless to say, they quickly fell out of favor with the military, in exchange for 1980s sport sunglasses, cleverly labeled and marked up by Oakley, Revision and that one company we aren’t going to mention. (Call me)

1980’s ski glasses or military protective eye wear? If you subtract the flamboyant colors there is really no difference.
1980’s ski glasses or military protective eye wear? If you subtract the flamboyant colors there is really no difference.

4: PT Belts

Okay, now this is one everyone can get behind.
At some point during the War on Terror, commanders kept noticing a number of troops that would otherwise be licking glass or sniffing glue were being hit by vehicles, usually on FOBs and at night. To reduce casualties, troops were forced to wear an elastic reflective belt whenever they weren’t out facing the enemy.

Airborne PT belt
Airborne soldiers in Afghanistan showing how “hooah” they can be by wearing two PT belts.

The irony of this situation is that it was far better to be caught in an ambush than to be caught without your PT belt.

Ultimately, the PT belt is still a thing, much to the chagrin of troops. Is it bulletproof? Does it ward off EMP? Can it be used for intimate activities? We may never know- frankly, we might not want to.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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