It is time for the Navy to make sensible uniform policies. Cold logic supplies several points for guidance. First, the U.S. military should not wear a uniform worn by another nation. Both the Geneva Conventions and the American public expect respectable militaries to wear distinctive uniforms. Second, there is no reason why the Department of the Navy should continue to maintain six camouflage patterns—DCU, NWU Type I (blue), NWU Type II (desert), NWU Type III (woodland), Marine pattern desert and woodland—while the Army and the Air Force are converging on a common MultiCam pattern. Cost-effectiveness and efficiency dictate that the Navy should reduce the total number of separate clothing articles. It should retire limited-use items and change policies to broaden the utility of those it retains. Finally, all Sailors deploying on land to combat zones should wear state-of-the-art camouflage uniforms as effective as those of other U.S. service members.
Within these parameters, the Navy has three reasonable choices for desert camouflage: Marine desert digital, NWU Type II desert (ironically restricted to SEAL use only because of Marine objections that it looks too much like the Marine pattern), or the MultiCam universal-environment design now being issued to Army and Air Force deployers to Afghanistan. It has been historically proven that the branches of the U.S. military can share common camouflage uniforms while preserving service-unique insignia and identity. Such commonality makes sense in this day of shrinking budgets.
For its stateside working uniform, the Navy should sundown the blue NWU and transition to its choice of the tactical camouflage uniform listed above. It should likewise increase the utility of that tactical camouflage uniform by permitting personnel to wear it in public as do the Army and Air Force.
We need to clean up decades of confused Navy uniform policies and follow logic toward a seabag that reflects practicality, cost-effectiveness, tactical focus, joint interoperability, and adherence to national and international conventions. The most obvious first step is to square away our camouflage.