“During Operation Mountain Lion I found myself praying for bad weather, the first time in my military career I was actually begging for a cold front to come through. I knew my soldiers could handle it and the enemy couldn’t. ECWCS allowed my men to outlast the enemy on their own terrain. When the enemy was forced out of the mountains due to the bitter cold to take shelter, that’s when we got them.”
— LTC Christopher Cavoli, US Army 10th Mountain Division, Afghanistan
This third generation of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS-III) is a radical re-design of the cold weather clothing system for the U.S. Army. So, exactly what’s in the ECWCS-III?
Combat boots remain one of the infantry’s most important and least-appreciated pieces of gear. Unless you’ve served in the infantry, of course. After decades of “Army boots” being used as a term for old-fashioned, heavy, uncomfortable items worn by serving soldiers and the mothers of childhood antagonists, modern professional militaries have begun to get smarter about footwear. Their new aim is to leverage civilian advances in design and materials, in order to build or buy new boots that are more comfortable, longer lasting, and support the efforts of troops in the field, rather than acting as a limiting factor. The US military has been following this path for some time now. Other nations like Britain are also coming on board with the trend.
A set of contracts were issued in 2007, with future option years to follow. This article tracks those specific contracts, and is meant to be representative, not a comprehensive look at all US military combat boot orders. Participating firms and orders include:
In March 2006, “Fractal Creep: New Digitized Camo Uniforms for USAF, USN, Jordan” looked at some of the new fractal camouflage patterns emerging on the market, and the some of the design decisions behind the uniforms themselves. The new uniform design is a pixilated tiger stripe, with 4 soft earth tones of tan, grey, green and blue. The Air Force Battle Uniform will have a permanent crease and will be offered in 50-50 nylon-cotton blend permanent press fabric, eliminating the need for winter and summer weight uniforms. It will also be available in more body sizes, tailored for men and women. A tan T-shirt and polish-free suede cowhide boots in matching green-gray color will accompany the uniform, and will be available in men’s and women’s sizes. So will a fleece.
Back in 2006, Brig. Gen Robert R. Allardice said that they:
Government Sewing & Apparel (dba Columbia Sewing Co.) received a maximum $8.6 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract to supply the Marine Corps combat utility uniform, including battle dress, desert and woodland camouflage blouse and trouser sets. The company, which won the original contract in 2006, will make the uniforms at its Arkansas and Puerto Rico facilities. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia received 10 responses to its original solicitation. This contract (SP0100-06-D-0362) is exercising option year 3. The date of performance completion is June 25/10.
DID has more on the Marine Corps MARPAT camouflage uniforms…
Small business qualifier Special T Hosiery Mills, Inc. in Burlington, NC received a maximum $7.1 million firm fixed price contract for antimicrobial boot socks. Using services are the US Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. There were 25 proposals solicited, and 16 responded. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) in Philadelphia, PA issued the contract, and the date of performance completion is April 7, 2009 (SP0100-05-D-0386).
Wellco Enterprises in Waynesville, NC won a maximum $7.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for safety flight deck boots on behalf of the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Proposals were solicited using a Bidders List and 8 responded. The contract will end on June 22, 2008, and was issued by the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) in Philadelphia, PA (SPM1C107D0039).
Propper International, Inc. in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico won a maximum $7.1 million contract for battle dress uniform coats and trousers for Iraqi Security Forces. The contract will end on Aug. 4, 2007. Propper will use production facilities in Mayaguez, Last Marias, Cabo Rojo, Adjuntas, Lajas, South Lajas, Sabana Grande, and Ciales in Puerto Rico. They are one of the largest manufacturers of uniforms for the U.S Department of Defense, with more than 60 million garments manufactured since 1967 and over 2,000 employees at facilities in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
The Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia, PA sent out 10 solicitations on the firm fixed cost contract (SPM1C1-07-C-0045) and received 4 bids for the production call. Given that impersonation of Iraqi security forces has been a consistent problem in theater for some time, one hopes some back-end effort has also been put into making this order harder to counterfeit.
Small business qualifier Campbellsville Apparel in Campbellsville, KY won a maximum $11 million firm-fixed-price contract for men’s briefs for Army. Proposals were Web-solicited and 5 responded. This is an indefinite quantity type contract for the base term. The date of performance completion is September 30, 2007. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) in Philadelphia, PA (SP0100-06-D-0378) issued the contract.
Small business qualifier Harris Manufacturing Co., Inc. in Trenton, NJ received a maximum $7.3 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/quantity type contract for waterproof bags and clothing for Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The firm as a whole is knwon for producing “toxological agents protective” (TAP) clothing. Given the different nature of this contract, however, it is almost certainly being filled by Harris subsidiary Utility Products. They specialize in custom industrial rainwear and rain gear, and are based in Trenton.
Other locations of performance include Smyrna, DE, where the rest of the firm is located. Proposals were Web solicited and 2 responded. Date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2007. The contract was issued by the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA (SP0100-05-D-4175).