In the business world, it is often said that you need to dress for success. That remains less true in the era of the “gig economy,” and the post-pandemic the age of suits is largely a thing of the past for many workers. The military however, continues to play by its own rules – and in recent years, the United States Army adopted a retro-looking dress uniform inspired by the World War II-era “pinks and greens.”
Soon, United States Navy sailors and officers alike will be adorning a new uniform. When introduced, it spurred a mix of confusion, excitement and even apprehension when it was unveiled earlier this year.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith was seen wearing the outfit during a visit to Navy facilities in Virginia in January via his official Instagram and Facebook accounts. Users were asking what the MCPON was wearing, and soon the Navy responded that it was a new two-piece, flame-resistant organization clothing variant that was being tested for general use. The chief of naval operations had approved the garment in late 2020, bringing sailors one step closer to wearing it after rounds of wear-testing and fleet feedback in 2018 and 2019.
2POC Rather Than Coveralls
The Navy is ditching its iconic – and at times beloved – coveralls for sailors aboard ships with the new two-piece uniform that was finally approved last month after years of trials. The new “2-Piece Organizational Clothing,” or “2POC,” is also a do-over of sorts – replacing a previous version of the uniform that was found to be dangerously flammable.
It features a tri-fiber blend and flame resistant fabric, which is reported to be equivalent to the flame resistance found in the Improved Fire Retardant Variant uniform. The Navy has also announced plans to roll out the 2POC to sailors in November and December, starting with those sailors assigned to ships in maintenance since it is an at-sea uniform.
Unlike the Army’s “pinks and greens,” which some officers had to pay for out of pocket, the Navy will distribute the organizational clothing to sailors free of charge, just as it had provided the Improved Fire Retardant Variant uniform. In addition, the IFRV coveralls will still be authorized for wear at-sea, although the 2POC will replace them as the primary option.
“Each sailor serving on board surface ships and submarines will be issued a minimum of two sets of 2POC as organization clothing, with an additional set upon deployment,” said a Fleet Forces Command internal message. “Units are authorized to continue ordering IFRVS until unit has been fully outfitted with 2POC.”
Blue or Khaki
What is also notable about the Navy’s 2POC is that it will essentially be available in two colors – blue for sailors E-6 and below, while a khaki version is available for E-7 sailors and above, as well as for officers.
The black NWU fleece liner was also approved for use with the 2POC, while sailors may also wear command ball caps with it. Moreover, sailors will have the option to pair the 2POC with flight deck jerseys, eliminating the need for commands to purchase separate flight deck pants. Sailors will wear brown undershirts with the 2POC, and a black rank tab for both blue and khaki options.
According to the Navy Times, the 2POC uniform is authorized for commuting and other “normal” tasks, such as stops at child care, gas stations, and off-base shopping, unlike the IFVR uniform, yet it is still primarily designed to provide options for sailors who don’t want to wear the coveralls.
The Navy has also noted that consumption of alcohol in the 2POCs off base is not authorized, however, alcohol consumption in the garments are permitted on base with approval from regional commanders.
Replacing the “Blueberries”
It has also been reported that the adoption of the 2POC closes what has been a long and somewhat complicated history for the Navy. The quest to find a new flame-retardant uniform had begun in 2012 after a report from the Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility in Natick, MA found that the Type I Navy Working Uniform – the camouflage uniform commonly known as “blueberries” – could “burn robustly until completely consumed” when exposed to an open flame.
Even worse, it was found that NWU I could melt and essentially weld to the skin in a fire.
The Navy then began a three-year process of swapping it out, which lead to the adoption of a uniform not too dissimilar to the United States Marine Corps’ digital woodland camouflage. That uniform was initially intended only as a “tactical uniform for expeditionary sailors.” That didn’t go over so well, and the process continued. A survey conducted by the Navy also found that 84 percent of those surveyed had said they wanted something other than standard coveralls.
However, it took until 2019 for the “blueberries” to be fully retired. By the end of this year, the 2POC will begin to be introduced – closing the book on the military’s latest uniform saga.