NATION

Tuesday, June 22, 10:02 AM PST

New Army Uniforms Driving Soldiers Away

by Brent the Johnson,
NA!P NewsWire

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Army, already reeling from falling re-enlistment rates because of poor political leadership, suffered yet another blow to its retention efforts when it unveiled its "next generation" uniform last week, due to be rolled out by 2007.

To the dismay of soldiers everywhere, the service's new duds feature stylishly puffy sleeves and pants, no-wrinkle fabric, a sweet beret and a pair of tan booties.

"Dude, is that a skirt?" wondered Sgt. Matt Schnur upon viewing the uniforms on the Internet. "No way -- I ain't gonna re-up just to get laughed at by the enemy."

Schnur's reaction appeared to reflect the thinking of most soldiers. Within days of the new uniform's unveiling, the number of the personnel who had intended to re-enlist dropped from 68 percent to a mere 11 percent.

The news couldn't be worse for the Army, which has had to employ a controversial "stop-gap" measure in order to prevent the all-volunteer force from voluntarily leaving.

And yet the news is worse -- recruitment numbers among the youth of America have also sunk to such new lows, that many who feared a return of the military draft are now resigned to it.

"That unifrm is fer teh fag0rts [sic]," wrote Daniel "G8t0r" Mesker, 15, a would-be soldier who posts on forums devoted to the Army-created computer game, "America's Army."

"If teg gheys dress my solider in that fag0rt thing, i asplode game," Mesker added.

But gay soldiers beg to differ.

"You can bet your sweet ass that I won't be re-enlisting," said one such soldier, echoing many others' sentiments. "A boy loves a boy in uniform, but that fashion disaster looks like a fat girl's pajamas."

The new uniform, which features "digital camouflage" that's meant to blend in to both urban and natural environments, is the brainchild of Brigadier General James Moran and fashion designer Calvin Klein.

"I don't understand everyone's reactions," Moran said, shaking his head. "We designed it big to fit armored plates into them."

"And Calvin Klein designs everything to be beautiful," Klein declared. "Calvin Klein only designs beautiful underwears and uniforms."

Moran, however, did express some doubts regarding the new regalia. "I guess I just don't understand the pale tan booties."

"This is because, unlike Calvin Klein, you are a fashion barbarian," Klein retorted.

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