Defence forgets SAS size not uniform
From: The Australian
March 25, 2011 12:00AM
NEW combat uniforms for Australian special forces soldiers in Afghanistan were ordered in the wrong sizes after an embarrassing administrative blunder.
The mistake was made during the trial of the new US-made "Multicam" combat uniforms when the Defence Materiel Organisation placed the order using Australian clothes sizes, neglecting to translate them into the equivalent US sizes for the American manufacturer.
As a result, about 100 SAS uniforms arrived in smaller sizes that did not resemble the robust SAS physique. The army had to redistribute them to non-special forces soldiers whose less-toned body shapes better resembled the wrongly-sized uniforms.
The mistake is another setback for DMO, which has been blamed for chronic delays and cost overruns on billions of dollars worth of defence equipment and projects in recent years.
A Defence spokesman confirmed yesterday that some of the SAS's Multicam uniforms, which cost up to $400 each, were ordered in the wrong sizes.
"The order of less than 100 uniforms was placed by Defence in Australian sizes and were provided by the supplier in US sizes," the spokesman said. "The uniforms were redistributed and all soldiers involved in the operational trial were issued with appropriate uniforms."
Defence denied suggestions there were also serious size problems with a subsequent $2 million order of 5000 Multicam uniforms last October, saying only that there were no "significant" problems with sizes of these uniforms. "All of these 5000 uniforms were ordered taking into account size conversions," the spokesman said. "These uniforms are currently being prepared to be sent into theatre and Defence foresees no significant issues with the sizes of these uniforms."
Last November, Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare announced the extension of the Multicam uniform trial to all Australian troops operating "outside the wire" in Afghanistan, followpositive feedback from SAS troops. "Special forces have said this is the uniform they want ," Mr Clare said at the time.
The Multicam uniforms have a different camouflage pattern from that on regular ADF uniforms. Defence says the new pattern provides better concealment across the range of terrains in Afghanistan. The uniforms have been trialled by SAS troops since January 2009.
Defence wants to make the US uniform in Australia, a move that will remove the need for size conversions.
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