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ARLINGTON, Va. — Marines should start receiving a new, lightweight uniform designed to provide more protection against burn injuries at the end of this month, said John M. Hernandez, a project officer for Infantry Combat Equipment.

The Corps plans on issuing about 120,000 of the new uniforms this year, and all Marines in the U.S. Central Command theater of operations should have the new uniforms by summer, Hernandez said.

Eventually, every Marine will have two of the new uniforms, Hernandez said.

Hernandez was one of several officials from Marine Corps Systems Command who showcased the new flame-resistant uniforms to reporters Thursday at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The uniform is the latest version of the Corps’ Flame Resistant Occupational Gear, or FROG, officials said. The FROG program began in February 2006.

Marines downrange already have flame-resistant gear, but the new FROG uniform is about a pound lighter than one version of the gear now in use, officials said.

Tests have shown that the new flame-resistant uniform drastically reduces the area of the body that receives third-degree burns in blasts from between 15 percent and 20 percent to 5 percent, said Materials Engineer John Bauer.

As part of that testing, the new uniforms have been engulfed in flames at temperatures of about 1,500 degrees to mimic the initial flash from a roadside bomb, officials said.

The new uniforms can exposed to up to four seconds of flames and extinguish themselves in less than a second, Bauer said.

Regular utility uniforms can withstand about 3.5 seconds of flames at the same temperatures without catching on fire, Hernandez said.

The uniform is designed for all weather and includes a face mask that comes in two varieties for hot and cold temperatures, Hernandez said.

The shirt that comes with the new uniform also has less material than what Marines wear now because it does not have chest pockets, and the uniform’s glove allow for more dexterity so that Marines don’t have to cut the tips off their gloves to use their weapons, he said.

While the uniform provides added protection against burns, it is not as flame-resistant as firefighter’s bulky gear because the uniform is designed to be light enough to allow Marines to complete their mission, which can involve climbing walls and kicking down doors, officials said.

“You’re not going to run into a firefight with a fireman’s suit on,” said Capt. Landis, a spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command.

The Army meanwhile has been issuing flame-resistant uniforms to soldiers downrange since summer 2006, said Steve Pinter, deputy project manager for soldier equipment.

Like the Corps, the Army plans to have all soldiers in the CENTCOM area of operations have the flame-resistant uniforms, but Pinter would not say when, citing operational security concerns.

Pinter said hundreds of thousands of the uniforms have already been delivered to theater, but he would not specify exactly how many.

He said the uniforms come in three varieties: One for soldiers in aviation Military Occupational Specialties; a coverall version for fuel-handlers; and a version for soldiers in convoy operations or on dismounted patrols.

The Army is also working on a cold-weather version of the flame-resistant uniform known as the Fire Resistant Environment Ensemble, Pinter said.

The FREE uniform currently is being tested in South Korea and the Corps plans to begin issuing the new uniforms in about a year, he said.

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