Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Martial discipline as we know it has changed dramatically.

I'm no soldier, in anyone's army, and right now I wouldn't be interested in fighting for the so-called freedoms that our current administration claims to support at any price. The closest I've ever come to violence has been in a video game, the closest to martial discipline: a martial arts class. Even so. For some reason, this seemed a surprising enough change that I felt I'd share it.

The United States Army began rolling out its new uniforms this week, consisting of a far more effective "digital" camouflage pattern compared to the rather dramatic, ineffective "woodland" style used for the past twenty years. Pixellated blocks of color blend into one another, allowing the soldier to simply 'lose resolution' as he becomes more distant, standing out far less than the sharp, curved lines of the old pattern. Removed entirely from the design was the color black, in all situations deemed too noticeable. In keeping with this modification came the change that I refer to about martial discipline.

The new uniforms have tan-colored suede boots.

Tan suede.

What does that matter? You don't polish tan suede. The boots are no-polish. If there is one act that I associate with the soldier, across the times and ages, it is the polishing of his boots. He may be dead the next day, in hostile territory, cold and starving and whatever other evils come from war, but his boots would be shined, polished, and well-kept. Historians throughout the years have said one could tell the quality of an army's equipment and training simply by glancing at their boots. I remember stories from my army friends about having a spare pair of boots for inspections, stored under their bunks, not only polished but with Mop-N-Glow freshly applied. The last thing you would want, they explained, was to be caught with dull boots.

Many things change with time, but a few essential ones stay the same. Not this one.


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