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marine corp foolishness

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Marine Corps equipment officials are looking for new extreme cold weather gear for combat units training to fight in subzero Arctic conditions.

Starting in late February, Marine Corps Systems Command began looking at the commercial cold weather gear market for new trigger finger mittens, base-layer long underwear and a hat that sounds like a modern version of the beloved GI pile cap, according to three request-for-information solicitations.

This latest search for better cold weather clothing -- long known as snivel gear in the ranks -- comes at a time when the U.S. military is intensifying its focus on the Arctic to counter potential aggression from Russia and China as melting ice is opening new sea lanes.

The Marines want ideas on a new USMC Trigger Finger Mitten System that will replace the current Extreme Cold Weather Mitten Shell & Liner, according to a March 3 solicitation. Trigger finger mittens offer the warmth of a mitten while featuring a separate trigger finger so combat troops can still fire their weapons.

I did not see this solicitation, but I do know that a couple of years ago Natick put out solicitation for such a mitten/glove and of course it died on the vine. The employees at Natick, there were two noted on the solicitation were/are completely at a loss of knowledge about the possibility of making such a product. The same is true with the “officials” who want to find a product that simply put does not exist. If it were available in the commercial market they could just go to that manufacturer and buy some and test them. But it does not exist.

For the arctic conditions they need a pure mitten. And a lightly insulated glove with a trigger finger that will fit in the trigger guard. These products do exist, but they will never seek out a mitten manufacture who makes mitten that perform in arctic temperatures that will fir over the cold weather glove they currently have.

"The trigger finger design shall enable the wearer to move their first finger independently from the rest of the hand, but if needed move their first finger into the larger finger compartment to warm up as needed," according to the solicitation.

As stated, this is not capable of being made for arctic conditions.

The mitten shell should be constructed from a waterproof laminate with a water-repellent leather palm and feature a suede "nose wipe" on the back of the thumb, according to the solicitation. It should also be insulated and seam-sealed to provide full waterproofing.

It is the arctic, so waterproof is not necessary. Complying with this construction is expensive and on no use.

The liner should fit easily into the shell, and the trigger finger should be constructed from leather for "enhanced dexterity," the document states. In addition to increased insulation, the liner should be water resistant and have a cuff to allow for a snug fit around the wrist. Interested companies had until March 24 to respond.

More unnecessary ideas that were written in the solicitation evidently.

Marines typically wear the current-issue microfleece cap in cold weather, but the service now wants a new cold weather cap to be "worn separately from the current cap when increased protection from wet and dry cold weather environments is needed," according to a March 1 solicitation.

"The design consists of a three-panel crown, short visor that can be worn in either up or down position, and full extension ear flaps that secure under the chin with low profile hook and loop," the solicitation states.

Marines and soldiers wore a similar hat known as the GI pile cap from World War II well past the end of the Cold War. The beloved item was phased out of service in the early 1990s as fleece caps came on the market.

In the marketplace exists an insulated head cover that will give them all the protection they need. I happen to sell one to hundreds who live and work in the arctic. It is simple without all of the bells and whistles. So much for head gear.

The lining and shell of the new cap should be designed so they can be separated to help them dry faster, the solicitation states. Interested companies had until March 24 to respond.

The service is also looking for a new next-to-skin mesh base layer for the Marine Corps Mountain Cold Weather Clothing System, according to a Feb. 23 solicitation.

"The mesh base layer will be a supplement to the current Marine Corps layering system to improve moisture regulation and thermal performance in extreme cold weather environments," according to the solicitation.

The undershirt will be an open, netlike knit construction with jersey knit shoulder areas; jersey knit underarm gussets; a rib knit collar and cuffs; and a turned bottom hem, the document states. The drawers, or pants, will be made of the same style of fabric and feature jersey knit reinforced knee patches; jersey knit inner thigh gussets; a tapered, two-ply functional fly; an elastic waistband with a drawstring cord; and rib knit ankle cuffs.

The materials for the new base layer "must be no melt/no drip," durable, lightweight, moisture-wicking and quick-drying with "antimicrobial, stretch, and recovery properties," according to the solicitation. Interested firms had until March 12 to respond.

So far, all three cold weather items are slated to come in coyote brown.

The mesh underwear solicitation I did see. As we know it is available commercially, but I will never get a call from them. Samples cannot be made in coyote brown because the mesh does not exist in that color. The mesh shown in the specifications is the mesh that I use, and it does not have any stretch. It is available in a FR version.

The reality as I see it is that they will most likely not get anything that they are looking for.

The Marine Corps did not have specific fielding dates planned, but Marine Corps Systems Command spokeswoman Kelly Flynn told Military.com that the service hopes to field all three items either later this year or in early 2022.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

For ruffle 50 years I have had opportunity to communicate with the Kelly Flynn’s of the various branches of the military. Her job is just to give out the information she has been told by someone. She personally has no knowledge of the products being asked for and as far as I am concerned the person who gave her the information to publicize. It is obvious that the source of the information, requested has no knowledge themselves.

What I do know, or suspect is that the Marine Corps will deadhead to Outdoor Research company to solve their problem. They have done it in the past so why stop now. After all they went to outdoor research when they wanted mukluks and shut in my opinion all other potential bidders by saying outdoor research was the only company that made mukluks. They knew Wiggy’s made them and has been for 30 years. So, they spent about $60.00 per pair more for a mukluk that doesn’t work as well as the Wiggy’s mukluk.

Of course, Wiggy’s has been making fishnet [mesh as they call them] underwear also for 30 years, will they call me; NO.

Wiggy’s has been making the warmest mitten in the world but do you think they will call me? NADA.

And finally, the insulated head cover we have been manufacturing for 25 years solves the cold head problem, but will they contact me for them nope!

So I read these articles and sometimes solicitations and wonder how much of our tax dollars they will waste.

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