10 September 2008

The US Army, fashion and... Sears?

Above is the unit insignia for the 1st Infantry Division. Soon to be sold next to Kenmore washing machines, Craftsman tools and Die Hard batteries.

Below is Trad Dad as a young enlisted man drawing a sentiment popular among young enlisted men when they've been in the Army for more than a day.

Samuel Johnson wrote, "Every man thinks more meanly of himself for having never been a soldier."

The US Army and Sears's have taken Johnson to heart and are giving the customer what he wants. Say you're the kinda guy who likes war movies and snappy uniforms but you really don't want to get shot. Now you can run...No, make that, Airborne Shuffle to Sears and with the Army's blessing you can pretend you were in the 1st Infantry Division. That's right, The Big Red One. Shirts, backpacks, outerwear...all with 1st ID's insignia. I suspect very soon you'll be able to buy jump wings, marksmanship badges and a combat infantry badge if this product website is any indication. http://www.armybrand.com/

I have a sense the Army and Sears are dipping their toe in the water of branding. If we all roll over and allow this nonsense to continue without complaint I see some great ideas down the road. How about the Sears brand, "Die Hard" stenciled on tanks? Man, I feel like Don Draper here. Army issued boxers? Joe Boxer of course. Headquarters Intelligence divisions once known as "G-2" will be known as "Craftsmen." I'm actually getting nauseous.

Funny thing. The Army, thanks to me, sent a letter to Polo Ralph Lauren telling them to take product with Army insignia off their shelves immediately. You can get some major fines as well as up to six months in jail. I don't see Ralph in a orange jump suit eating bologna sandwiches but you never know. I'd give my right testicle to work for Polo but I thought, "Screw 'em. This is not right." So I dropped a dime on them.

Now, I feel like a schmuck. Little did I know the Army and DoD were cooking a deal with Sears. Here's an interesting angle... will the Army use its legal counsel to protect Sears products featuring Army insignia? Wow, Sears secures legal services at tax payer expense. Which begs the question...why Sears? Anyone who was ever in the Green Machine knows how incompetent the Army is. But Sears? As my Drill Sergeant might opine, "If you turned Sears brains into gasoline you wouldn't have enough to power a piss ant motorcycle half way 'round a fucking dime."

That gives me a great idea. The Army can include a booklet (tagged to a trouser belt loop with suspension cord) filled with earthy quotes and jargon so customers can complete the illusion of having served. Soon a 13 year old will complain about school being FUBAR and salesmen at B&H Photo will argue over some REMF in their A.O.

To add insult to this injury, Sears has said they are giving the Army the "proceeds" from the sale of product. So, no bitching people. This is for a gosh darn good cause. But some news stories are using the word "Royalty." Hmmm? Anytime you see "Royalty" you can be sure some asshole stands to make a fortune.

When I was in the Army there was a popular expression, "F.T.A." meaning, "Blank the Army." I haven't used it in years. But thanks to this Cluster Blank, I may have to blow the dust off it. Lastly, my apologies to Ralph Lauren for what I did. I feel like I was used by an organization that I used to admire. I guess some things never do change.


Anonymous said...

Great post Tin! I can't get enough of Army jargon and your prose put a smile on my face. I have fond memories of fellow skin-heads wanting to kill thier recruiters and colorful cadences about being "back on the block" (because that's where you could get laid). Refering to your kids as "dismounts" is also fun.

Okay, let me get back to my Charlie Foxtrot at work.

Anonymous said...

This really pisses me off. I've already written my Congressman about it.


Tim said...

"How about the Sears brand, "Die Hard" stenciled on tanks?" Great idea, Tintin! Or as your drill sergeant might have said, "Get with the program private blank-blank!!!

PRIVATIZATION!!! Why stop with hiring contractors to do the Army's fighting? (At least the easy part, not the dirty, nasty part.) Why, we can get private industry to fund the whole darn DoD! Simple, if governments can make a killing naming sports venues things such as FedEx Field, think of the possibilities the military offers.

Why stop with simply have equipment carry advertising. We can name entire branches of the military after corporate icons. I can see a future where the U.S. Army is no longer the U.S. Army. How about, “The U.S. Army brought to you by courtesy of AT&T. “ It’s time as Americans we acknowledged the obvious, we’re owned!

Tony Ventresca said...

This is a very strange thing to see happen. Every bit of surplus military clothing I bought and wore as a teen, I immediately removed all badges before wearing. Not entitled to them, don't wear them.

Anonymous said...

Trad, I only post if i feel obligated to. It really isn't that big of a deal as far as insignias being worn by civilians. It goes back to when you mentioned in a previous post that you called someone out in a store about them wearing some type of patch or what have you. I think it is just unbecoming to call out a civilian about what they feel like wearing. I have 4 years of prior service and am currently in the Army ROTC program at Indiana University. There is nothing wrong with someone wearing something that they think is cool. If someone wants to wear the cyclone patch of the National Guard aviation unit I am in then so be it. I fight for their right to wear whatever the hell they want. Someone's ignorance to a patch should not be exploited.

If anything Sears is really smart for having military clothing. The way I look at it the American Dream is about free enterprise, and since military clothing has been 'in' lately, they're gonna make some bucks off of the stuff. Not to mention the Army-if they can make money off of people thinking their logo is cool, then that makes it all the better for the soldiers actually over there fighting who need what that money will buy.

Obviously I would never shop at Sears- I describe my wardrobe as violently preppy- mixing my issue sherpa fleece jacket with a repp belt, vineyard vines sandals, goyard wallet, purple label aviators, john hardy woven bracelet, benchmade knife clipped to pocket, mount gay cap, chinos i grew out of years ago, and a flask full of admiral nelson's in my back left pocket.

I'm only saying this because if there were people out there that didnt wear any of the military stuff from Sears you would be a lonely person- just being so bored and blogging about whatever. Lately I feel like your blog isn't even real, you are just putting on a show, and the military patch wearers are the antagonists- an integral part of the show. So basically if all this goes away you'd be out of a job.

Anonymous said...

Great post Max!

tintin said...

wessex- Kids as dismounts reminds me of a Army buddy who started teaching his son parachute landing falls when he was 6.

scott- thanks for doing something and it's a good something. I spoke to someone within DoD and this may not fly as to the way it was handled and many senior types at the Pentagon were not brought into the loop. Never a good thing to do. Lots of news articles on outraged vets and vet groups doing exactly what you did and I'll join you.

tim-you hit the nail on the head. We, as a country, are owned. Lock, stock and barrel. When people can't see the vulgarity I'm convinced every generation drops a notch in the common sense department.

max- I do appreciate your opinion and I'm pretty sure based on your preference in attire you posted earlier under "be the best" regarding Ralph's use of an active unit insignia worn by the Old Guard.

If it's you, you're 21 and in the ROTC program at Indiana. My hats off to you. I did the same thing you did. Went to college after four years at Ft Bragg as an 11B2P. GI Bill paid for some of it. Student Loans and part time jobs the rest.

In the end, I put myself though and didn't give up. In large part, due to the discipline I picked up in the Army. You're in for a great time and I envy you because college after the Army was one of the times of my life.

That you don't see this as wrong is your opinion and that's ok. Be clear about one thing...I do not get paid for this nor is it a job. This is a hobby. That you see it as a fake effort saddens me but I can't please everyone here so I've set out to please myself.

Anonymous said...

this is bullshit. 3rd brigade 1st ID is in afghanistan riht now getting fucking shot at every fucking day never knowing if they'll live to see tomorrow. and they're not doing this so fucking scared ass civilians who "don't want to get shot at" can wear their fucking patch. thats bullshit. it discredit to the Army and its going to make the Army look bad because dumb ass civilians are going to ruin the 1st ID name. this is the dumbest shit i've ever fucking heard of

tintin said...

Tony V-Good on you. Wish I could say I did the same as a teen.

Anon (13 Sep)-Try not to be so verbose.

Anon (14 Sep) Bra -fucking- vo! A branding company (Beanstalk Gp) were the sharp marketing types who came up with this according to my DoD connection. Not a one of 'em ever served and the account exec graduated from NYU last year. They're using the Sears approach to recruit. It's BS. Who, in their right mind, would bust their ass in the 1st ID when they can buy it? Talk about missing the Branding Boat. You want to share the story of the brand - - not sell it at Sears.

Anonymous said...

Army owns the Copyright and Trademark to all insignia, etc. so they can license those rights to whoever they want.

This is some dumb shit coming from some weenie in the Pentagon. (and believe me there are more civilians in uniform than out these days).

Sick...but a testimony to how useless the majority of young American males are if they're having to resort to this shit.

I hope the new universal health care includes sex change, cause there's gonna be a lot of these boys who should line up for one. (like those models on that web page with their boots AFU)


tintin said...

Mosby- I should update this post to reflect the Sears deal apprears kaput. Looks like there was a lotta bitching from veterans and vet groups not to mention a pissed off 1st Infantry.

The Army has decided to go solo with their "branding" per the web site. And pretty cheesy branding at that. "Sniper Shorts?"

THis was FUBAR from the start and as many a wise man who has served knows: The only difference between the Boy Scouts and the Army is that the Boy Scouts have adult leadership.