The Army is bragging that it took just under a year to reinvent the cloth facemask

It took a year to develop ... this?

The Army is good at many things, like fielding a lethal force that can deal exceptional amounts of violence over a great number of different environments. What it is not good at doing, however, is developing new gear in an expedited fashion — and the service is realizing that it’s probably not a good idea to brag about it, either.

In a recent press release, the Army announced that it has developed a service-tested and “refined” face mask under the decidedly-military moniker of the Combat Cloth Face Covering (CCFC) to start fielding to soldiers starting in the second quarter of fiscal year 2021.

Do we really need another acronym? It’s a damn face mask, people.

To be clear, this isn’t a bad idea: After all, soldiers have had to make do with a number of improvised face coverings since the start of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including neck gaiters and bandanas, so a uniformly-designed and distributed face mask isn’t anything to sneeze at.

What is amusing, however, is that the Army used the unveiling of the CCFC to brag that, hey, instead of the normal two years it takes to develop something for the Defense Logistics Agency, it only took the Army a year to develop a small cloth covering for your nose and mouth! You know, the sort of thing that my dying grandmother could knit in her spare time.

“The CCFC was designed, developed, and produced along an expedited timeline,” according to the Army announcement. “It normally takes 18–24 months for DLA to have the item available for order once the technical description, design, and components are approved and submitted. The CCFC, from inception to issuance, is slated to take less than one year.”

That the Army takes forever to design, develop, test, and field its gear is a universal truth on par with death and taxes; that it took a year for the service to design a facemask from the ground up suggests that the resulting product is almost certainly ‘military-grade’ — at least in the sense that it’s the cheapest possible product and likely doesn’t work.

Anyway, the CCFC will be available for purchase at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) uniform stores later in fiscal year 2021. Buy them at your own risk. Or don’t! Just be sure to wear a mask, OK? The rest of us thank you.

Related: Army Chief says COVID-19 likely factor in rise in suicides

Jared Keller

Jared Kelleris the executive editor of Task & Purpose. His writing has appeared in Aeon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post, among other publications. Contact the author here.

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