Amos: Marines sticking to their MARPAT “like a hobo on a ham sandwich”


Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, reassured Marines in Hawaii last week that he was committed to keeping the distinctive MARPAT camouflage pattern for Marines, even as lawmakers consider adopting one single camo pattern for all the services.

Gen. James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, addresses Marines at the base theater, July 15, 2013. Amos and Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, sergeant major of the Marine Corps, both visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii to discuss issues circulating within the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Dietz)

Amos has so far been quiet regarding the proposed changes, even as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has come out in support of a common camouflage–or at least a reduction from the ten-plus patterns now being utilized across the services.

But on July 15 he had some folksy fighting words regarding a change for troops aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“We are on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich,” Amos said, according to a Marine Corps news release. “I love the hell out of this uniform and I don’t have any intention of changing it.”

What’s not clear from Amos’s comments this month is his perspective on a change that would lead to the other services adopting a camouflage similar or identical to the Marines’ proprietary camouflage pattern.

In 2011 Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett suggested it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the other services to follow the Marines’ lead in their camouflage research.

“I encourage all services to research our MARPAT during their tests to field a new combat uniform,” he said. “We have the best camouflage pattern in the world, and I believe that it helps save the lives of our Marines and sailors. Our uniforms are distinctive, but what distinguishes [Marines] is our ethos, combat mindset and martial spirit.”

But earlier this year, Barrett pushed back against changes that would lead to a common camouflage.

“There are tactical and psychological advantages unique to our [combat uniform]in terms of morale and culture,” Barrett told Marine Corps Times in a written statement for a June 17 cover story. “Like our dress blues, the [combat uniform]is a visible indicator of our identity as United States Marines, globally! It’s part of our Corps’ identity. Where we walk or sail, people are safer — unless you screw with us!”

Famously, the Marines developed MARPAT on an efficient $319,000 budget. That’s compared to $3.1 million the Air Force spent in 2007 to design a “tiger stripe” pattern that was later determined to be flawed and unfit for combat deployments, and $3.2 million in 2005 to develop an “Army Combat Uniform,” or ACU, which is also being retired due to poor performance.

So far, the House and Senate Armed Services committees have approved language that would require the military services to transition to a common combat uniform by 2018.


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  3. Actually, the Army’s MultiCam was rated better than MarPat during test’s conducted in Afghanistan under combat conditions.

    And General, the marines do not have a monopoly on ethos, combat mindset and martial spirit, but we understand you need to keep the propaganda going.

  4. Carl… you mad, bro?

    You don’t see us on the Army Times blog, actin all jealous about your glow belts.

  5. First off, the Corps is not the Army. It never has been and never will be. The Marines have long been in service aboard naval vessels. Their uniforms signified a difference between them and their crew. They were elite soldiers, fighting from the rigging and top deck. They were the ones to lead the charge when boarding. They are NOT the Army. They are The Marines, and to suggest they conform to Army colors is unnatural and unreasonable. And in response to “Marine” Mike above: Muscles required is the Army slogan. The Marines teach leadership to the low private so that he may one day lead. The Army does not. Intelligence AND muscle are required… So is determination and honor. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. They all have my respect for wanting to serve. But none stand taller or prouder than the Marines.

  6. What do you mean by conforming to Army colors? Before 2003, EVERYONE used the same camouflage and it distinctly identified troops as AMERICANS. We should strive to appear to serve one nation instead of just our service. Keep the service uniforms distinct but make combat uniforms similar. When we’re in the field, we are one team

  7. Pingback: Amos: Marines sticking to MARPAT ‘like a hobo on a ham sandwich’ — OFFduty+

  8. Alright… I think that everyone can agree that UCP looks and works pretty crappy. In actuality, I would be fine wearing a MARPAT uniform in the army just as long as it cost less than a COMPLETELY NEW UNIFORM. Also, the only thing that US4 CES has that MARPAT doesn’t is better coloration in infrared… and I’m not too worried about Al Qaeda with night vision goggles. Go Army HOOOAH!

  9. Outstanding Devil Dogs! As a former Marine and current Soldier I have to laugh at how screwed up the Army is. The ACU sucks and now they want to change it. What about all the equipment, are you going to change the digital pattern on that as well? Then we have the ASU, they take forever to come up with something and then Soldiers whine about not having their stupid patches on there, the Army caves and is now going to add patches to a dress uniform. Unbelievable.

  10. DesertRaptor13 on

    I remember when I joined the Army way back, OD’s were being phased out, BDU’s were brought in. Army, Air Force & Marines wore them. The Navy had the bell bottoms. Got out and came back in to the USAFR after 9/11, BDU’s being phased out, by all branches and everyone had their “own” . My coveted Ranger beret (black), went to the all soldiers. Which now stands along side my Airborne beret on my “I love me” wall. Yes I was mad, but after that the Army seems(ed) no different. The Air Force is its’ own animal and I am proud to be a part of both branches. The USMC is a branch that has it’s own heritage no doubt. The USMC can be proud that they did something unique and other services took steps to move in directions never before seen by any military organization. A camo pattern does not make a branch. It’s the people. As a reservist, I will not leave until I hit mandatory age. As long as the uniform that I wear represents the United States, I will wear it.

  11. I’m ashamed to say but the 2 congressional clowns that began this are from my state IL. Enyart and Duckworth. Actually only enyart, duck is from that ‘other’ il we dont claim as residents of the Great State of Southern Illiniois.

  12. txredneckcop on

    Nothing says “loser” like you Army fools that troll Marine Corps stories. The Marine Corps is unique. We do more for less, and have more pride in our little finger than you people have in your body. Soldiers should be embarrassed it cost so much to develop your utility uniforms. The Marine Corps tries to set itself apart and the Army gets “jealous” and blows millions on developing its own. Carl and 1st Lt D, sorry you couldn’t make it as one of “The Few, The Proud”! I’m hoping the Commandant tells any lawmaker wanting to change the uniform to a standard pattern for all will tell them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine!

  13. Duckworth huh? And some of you beat me up a few weeks back for calling her a self serving liberal. I suppose she’ll use her wounds on this one too.

  14. Wow at least a leader is taking a stance. In the Army we have heard from senior leadership that our camo fails at every level, in every environment but for some reason they cannot seem to make a decision on changing it. But hey at least they were able to come up with a morale lifting new PT Uniform that goes well with our reflective belts.

  15. Philip Branton on

    Dear General James F. Amos,

    This piece of “news” and information by most accounts is just fodder. Most troops have no clue how it should be used and that is a shame. I have all the respect for you in the world and must relay to you that your Facebook page is rather “thin”. Matter of fact, it is about as thin as military grade gold plating. As you sit and read this article written about you, what does the photo attached tell the “viewers” about your speech..? You can promenade all you want to in front of your men and be cheerful about the uniform pattern in question. That is your right to do. How ever, for those men in the picture, would it not be prudent to talk about how you get into someone’s head (an IED maker) before your men go out on patrol and get blown up..? …or take into consideration certain tactical “feedback”..?

    Considering that I am in your head right now while you read this comment section, does it really matter what pattern my uniform is…? General, your Facebook page tells very little about how you think or offer your troops your open perspective. So, compare that to my Facebook page, how would those troops in this picture listening to you harvest and use my “crumbs” to understand what actions to take …or NOT..? You may be from Wendell, Idaho and what should that tell someone about you..? We wonder if your parents supported efforts at INL..? We wonder if you understand underground “aqua-fers” and the ramifications to our “troops” in Darfur..?

    General, if your troops in this picture had to follow you or I on the basis of our transparency and view on Facebook….”Who” would they follow…? On a chess board your troops would say that you would be represented by the knight. However, when you are placed in Wendell, Idaho on Google Earth or Hawaii via the Military Times………”what” are you..?

    As I sit here and munch on Amos’ Famous chocolate chip cookies while I peck at this keyboard, I want you to know that you are welcome at Spawar Atlantic at any time to discus the real battlefield and how Marines will be needed to serve. You do realize how the battlefield has changed? Then again, from this picture, none of the troops have a “phone” in their hand. I get a kick out of seeing all those reels of footage showing some “red” army marching with all those guns in the past. Russia, China, North Korea and even Iraq and Osama got into the act. Do you ever wonder what would happen if your troops knew how to talk to “tribal leaders” in Syria or South Sudan or Somalia or Afghanistan today..? Would they know what to say…? I dare say that what they had to say would be far better than “We came, We saw, and He DIED..!!” Then again, a certain Colonel did understand water “aqua-fers”…!!

    So General Amos, be of good cheer. I may be in your head on the new battlefield but you can tell your troops that you never fail to LEAD. Hope to chat with you soon and take a visit here in Charleston….we are not NASA.


  16. B.L.U.F It’s not up to the General Amos if congress pass a law he is going to follow it like it or not General. We live in a democratic Republic General Amos and we work for civilians. It’s impressive the Marines did what they did with 319k. The Army uniform is a sorry waste and I am Army but not as bad as Air force blue boots. Uniforms in the military have gotten out of control. Let’s just got back 10 years and all go BDU. BTW Multi-cam was not an Army invention it was a commercial pattern taken of the shelve.

  17. Philip Branton on

    Dear General James F. Amos,

    On an additional thought, there was once a major military victory. An army built all sorts of walls to surround themselves and their information. They sat high atop their walls and peered down and laughed. They were strong and well prepared. The other army was well prepared also. It marched around the army that was in their walls and kept building and building their fortitude and “case”. They would stop at certain times and look up and wave and say “Hi” to the troops sitting on the fortified walls.

    General, you know the story of Jericho and how an army was defeated don’t you…? Well, the opposite is also true…..especially if troops on both sides know how to communicate better than their leadership.

    “….Now Jericho (Pentagon) was shut up inside and outside because of the people of (SPAWAR Atlantic). None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua (General Amos), “See, I have given Jericho (Pentagon) into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war (SPAWAR) going around the city (Pentagon and Syria) once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of laptops and phones before the ark (youtube). On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets (laptops and phones). And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn (Al Jazeera) , when you hear the sound of the trumpet (phones), then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city (Pentagon) will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” …

    General, just think for a moment. You have read the “Art of War”. What would have happened if the walls of Jericho had not fallen..? If you were perched upon the top of those standing walls looking down at an army that was well “trained” and had you surrounded what would you do..? Fight them…? Ignore them…?? OR…….maybe recruit them with the food and water that you had…?

    General, what is SPAWAR Atlantic doing to your troops that read this article and comment section..?

    How is a story used..??

    What story was being told to Iraqi citizens and American taxpayers..?

    What story is being told to Syrian refugees and Darfur “rebels”…?

    Better yet…….what game should your troops be teaching Syrian refugees and Oil rig workers in Nigeria..??

    How would this game be played on your smart phone…??

    General, it may be time for you to think like Jack Sparrow…..

  18. This doesn’t seem like him at all. He got rid of sleeves. I thought his next target would be the uniforms. After that, dress blues would be the next one out the door.

  19. I am not sure about the uniform, and what particularly makes it special to the Marines, be it may, when we are using the term or phrase “hobo on a ham sandwich” all in it together.

    What upsets me is using the term, “hobo on a ham sandwich” and I had to look it up via our friend “google”.

    Wikipedia states: Definition of a hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond, especially one who is penniless. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States during the last decade of the 19th century. Unlike “tramps”, who work only when they are forced to, and “bums”, who do not work at all, “hobos” are workers who wander.

    Google definition of hobo: (noun) A homeless person, a tramp. A migrant worker. (Synonyms) tramp, vagabond, vagrant, bum, landloper, wanderer.

    Urban dictionary gave the meaning: to hobo on a ham sandwich

    “to compare someones rush to get something to the zeal in which a hungry hobo would snag a ham sandwich he/she just found”

    Used as: As soon as he saw his ho, he was all over her like a hobo on a ham sandwich.

    Cuz he hasn’t gottin any from her in like a week.

    Next: like a hobo on a ham sandwich

    “to be thoroughly motivated to do something, or to do something as eagerly as a hobo would be to see a free ham sandwich”

    Used as: Lucas jumped in that pussy like a hobo on a ham sandwich.

    I’m curious to see why a person would use this term, as it degrades a human, and used like this against women, and the homeless. I am sure that there is less fortunate people in this world, and this just singles them out, and targets a group of people, women in a degrading way to describe a cami patterned uniform. I think its a disgrace that it was used or even phrased in this way. Not sure if anyone even realized what the context “hobo on a ham sandwich” means, and how its used like the examples and if anyone would look it up. I wear the uniform, and I feel the comment like that, makes the uniform less and less insignificant. Aren’t we professionals when we make a public statement??? How does this go unnoticed by the Secretary of the Navy, and Secretary of Defense, when we are trying to get sexual assaults in the military under control, and move forward with changes, measures and policies. Would anyone describe the dress blues with that sort of term, but degrade another human?

    Its just not right, and if it doesn’t feel right, its probably not right.

  20. The US Army had the MOUT pattern way before the Marines came out with the Marpat.

    The link below scroll down next to the bottom

    Circa 1977 or 1978, the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (US Army in Europe) tested a Dual Texture (aka Dual-Tex) camouflage pattern for Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT). This design was painted on helicopters and vehicles of that unit. Following a request from the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Natick Labs developed a version of the pattern for printing on fabric and test uniforms were also produced. Although apparently effective, this early Dual-Tex pattern was never adopted as its appearance was reputedly unpopular with servicemen.

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