Marines temporarily relax regulations due to camouflauge uniform shortage

The Marine Corps can mix it up and wear desert camo instead of forest camo.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
Three corporals of the United States Marine Corps wearing the desert version of the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) in May 2009. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Marine unit leaders can now let their troops wear desert-pattern camouflage uniforms instead of the woodland-pattern one. 

The announcement came on Thursday, Sept. 28, courtesy of an Instagram video from the new Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlos Ruiz. Under the guidance, unit commanders at the battalion to squadron level can allow Marines to wear desert-patterned uniforms instead of the woodland Marine pattern.

The looser dress codes aren’t because the Marine Corps is becoming more laid back — it’s the Marine Corps after all. Instead this is due to necessity. There’s currently a shortage of woodland Marine pattern (or MARPAT) uniforms, or “cammies” as Gen. Smith says in the Instagram video. That’s due to a backlog in orders and production caused by the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The supply-chain shortages that hit so many industries and sectors of the economy also hit the military. The backlog for MARPAT uniforms isn’t expected to be resolved until at least the summer 2024. 

“What we cannot have is a situation where a Marine is wearing unserviceable cammies, because that looks bad for the Corps,” Smith said in the video. “And we can’t have a situation where that Marine is given a hard time about those unserviceable cammies.”

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Alongside the desert camouflage, Marines can also wear the fire-resistant organizational gear, or FROGs. 

The MARPAT camouflage combat utility uniforms are the day-to-day wear for Marines. The Corps has been experiencing a shortage of those uniforms since the summer of 2022. 

“This does not mean a Marine may make a decision unilaterally to wear a different uniform or civilian attire due to a serviceability issue with their designated uniform of the day,” Marine spokesman Maj. John Parry told Marine Corps Times in a statement this week about the uniform guidance.

Marine Corps Times reported earlier this year on the uniform shortage, with Marines having trouble finding them at thrift stores and the Marine Corps Exchange. Some are even buying the MARPAT uniforms via resale options. The shortage has also been apparent at training spaces such as recruit depots, where recruits are wearing FROGs, even though the Corps’ own guidance says those should be only worn on deployment. 

“We’re going to get it fixed, Marines, but it’s going to take a little patience,” Smith said. 

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