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Officials are urging Marines to check the label for one of the tell-tale tags that states the new uniform is "expressly made for" Marines.
Officials are urging Marines to check the label for one of the tell-tale tags that states the new uniform is "expressly made for" Marines. (Mark Oliva / S&S)
Officials are urging Marines to check the label for one of the tell-tale tags that states the new uniform is "expressly made for" Marines.
Officials are urging Marines to check the label for one of the tell-tale tags that states the new uniform is "expressly made for" Marines. (Mark Oliva / S&S)
Officals are uging Marines to look for the tiny Eagle, Globe and Anchor printed in the middle of the digital patterns to verify the uniforms are authentic and authorized for wear.
Officals are uging Marines to look for the tiny Eagle, Globe and Anchor printed in the middle of the digital patterns to verify the uniforms are authentic and authorized for wear. (Mark Oliva / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The rush for Marines to look uniquely Marine in their new digital camouflage uniform is spawning a few fakes.

Marine officials on Okinawa are warning their ranks to check the label to make sure the new uniform they’re wearing is the real deal.

Unauthorized uniforms, similar to the new Marine Pattern digital combat utility uniform, are cropping up, even at military surplus store on Okinawa. They’re close to the new Marine uniform, down to the embroidered Marine emblem on the slanted chest pockets.

“They are appearing out in town,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. John L. Robinson, supply chief for Marine Corps Base. “If an individual hasn’t seen the new uniform, they probably wouldn’t know the difference.”

But there is a distinct difference.

“It looks like a cheap imitation,” Robinson said. “Even the material is different than the authorized uniforms.”

Colors on the fakes are slightly off from the authorized uniforms’ colors. The tans are lighter; tans on the authorized uniforms appear with a tint of red. The slanted chest pockets and even the new shoulder pockets all are there — but a few significant details are missing.

“The small Marine Corps emblems that are hidden amongst the pixel patterns aren’t resident in the unauthorized uniforms,” Robinson said. “Look for the ‘expressly made for’ label at the base of the neck of the blouse, or the authorized supplier name.”

Only three companies are contracted to produce the new uniforms: Propper International, American Apparel and EA Industries. Tags all appear on the new uniforms with a Marine Corps seal.

Robinson said any Marines found wearing unauthorized uniforms will be ordered to change them out.

“If you’re wearing them, you’re violating the orders,” he explained. “It would be no different than wearing jeans with your cammies. You’ll be at a financial loss if you can’t return them.”

Unauthorized uniforms were selling for roughly $130 for the blouse and $62 for trousers.

That’s why Marine officials are trying to get the word out now. Unauthorized uniforms actually began appearing last July, but the numbers were small.

In December, officials learned Marines were purchasing uniforms through eBay, the online auction site. Marine Pattern uniforms were selling as high as $150 per set, almost triple the price at on-base uniform stores.

Sets of uniforms advertised on the Web site over the New Year ran as high as $149, under the Buy It Now option and one set from a seller in Jacksonville, N.C., home of the Marine’s Camp Lejeune, was running for $103.49.

“When you buy the uniform, ensure it costs $60 and not $170,” Robinson said.

He added that small unit leaders are being urged not to pressure their Marines to purchase the new uniforms until the requirement date of Oct. 1, 2003. Marines will be required to own only one pair of the new uniforms then and the old woodland patterns still will be authorized for wear.

But enforcement likely won’t be a problem, Robinson suggested: “Marines have been ‘sold’ on the new utilities, not just because of the regulations, but primarily by word of mouth. I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 27 years and I’ve seen a few uniform changes, but nothing like this.”

Robinson said supplies of the new uniforms are expected pick up. Initial supplies were directed to the two Marine Corps Recruit Depots and Officers’ Candidates School during the summer.

Now, supplies are being directed toward Camp Lejeune, N.C., Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Corps Bases, Japan. Shipments to Japan take longer because they arrive by sea.

“Things are getting better,” Robinson said. “Each individual uniform store will now receive their own allotted amount. Before, we received the shipment here and then divided them up.”

Camps Hansen and Schwab stores expect to receive 1,300 sets each on Jan. 13. The new uniforms were stocked on Camp Foster’s shelves over the New Year, but there were no covers, the Marine term for hats.

Robinson said further questions of procurement and wear of the new uniforms can be answered by referencing Marine Corps Orders P10120.28F and 34. All Marine messages 015-02 and 028-02 provide additional guidance concerning transition and care of the new uniform and boots.

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