So Erin Simpson, formerly professor of COIN at MCU and contributor "Charlie" on Abu Muqawama, is now in Afghanistan doing COINish things. She has a new blog, "Charlie Simpson's War," which we've had listed over in the blogroll for a couple of weeks. It seems to me that it's intended primarily to be a sort of online diary of Erin's time in the 'Stan and is directed to friends and family more than war nerds like us, but it's still a fun read. (Ricks and Exum have already linked over there, so I don't feel badly about directing a bunch of yahoos to her blog.)
In a post from this week we learn about a couple of really interesting uniform details (well, interesting, at least, to weirdos like me who care about this stuff):
I've never even heard of either of these things -- "DOD Contractor" nametapes or Marine combat patches on Army ACUs (or really Marine patches of any kind).
What really throws me is people in full Army or Marine utilities with “DOD Contractor” on their service tape. It’s like we’re so frustrated that the Taliban don’t wear uniforms that we put our civilians in them instead.
On the flip side, I saw an Army soldier wearing a 1st Marine Division patch on his right arm the other day. (In the Army, that’s where you put the patch for the unit you served in combat with.) I had never seen that before. Pretty freaking sweet.
I'm was initially a little confused about the latter bit; why would a soldier have done a combat tour with the 1st MarDiv? After a little digging around on the internet, I found (via a militaria forum) this piece from a 2004 issue of Leatherneck magazine. Apparently a company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) was attached to the 1stMarDiv at Camp Blue Diamond in Iraq (as just one example).
Others on the militaria forum speculate that prior Marines who did combat time before switching over to the Army may wear Marine patches, though this isn't authorized. (Ironically, because the Marine Corps and Navy don't authorize combat patches for their personnel, the only way to earn the combat patch of a Marine unit is to be a member of the Army and get attached to it.) Anyway, really interesting.