Iowa Soldiers Will Be First to Wear New Uniforms in Afghanistan

By Mark Geary, Reporter

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By Tracey McCullough

CAMP SHELBY, Mississippi – About 3,000 Iowa National Guard Soldiers are stationed at Camp Shelby, Mississippi right now training for Afghanistan. The soldiers will all have their boots on the ground in the Middle East by Thanksgiving.

Now, a new uniform could make the mission safer.

While the new uniforms may just look like a different kind of camouflage pattern, the design could keep troops out of enemy cross-hairs.

“You don’t want to be walking around with an orange hunting vest. That’s what these uniforms will do. They’ll blend us in with the surroundings a lot better,” Sgt. Jason Jager of the D334 BSB of Sioux City said.

The older style blended in well in Iraq and many other parts of the world, but stood out in Afghanistan.

“Urban environments which are a lot of brick and mortar construction just don’t exist in Afghanistan. There are a lot more mud huts,” Command Sgt.
Major Stephen Wayman of the 1st 113 Calvary Squadron of Sioux City said.
Iowa National Guard soldiers will be the first to sport the new uniforms.

“It’s a great matter of pride because, traditionally, over the past couple of decades, the National Guard has sometimes been the last to be fielded new equipment,” Wayman said.

The gear also comes with new boots built to support troops as they march through the mountains of Afghanistan.

“You want to make sure you take really good care of your feet because your feet take care of you. You’re always on ‘em. You don’t want to end up with blisters,” Jager said.

In addition, a quick-release cord makes it easier to ditch the equipment if a soldier gets injured.

“You can get medical attention a lot quicker,” Jager said.

The military has all kinds of high-tech, electronic equipment. Yet, these new uniforms could be the one item that actually saves a soldier’s life.

Soldiers are not wearing the uniforms right now at Camp Shelby because the military doesn’t want to risk ruining or ripping them during training.

However, they will wear them during their entire time in Afghanistan.
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