The Marine Corps’ yearslong camouflage uniform shortage is coming to an end.

The Corps first observed a shortage of the woodland-pattern combat utility uniforms, the everyday outfits often known as cammies, in summer 2022. The shortage prompted some rare flexibility from the service that otherwise expects rigid adherence to uniform standards.

Meanwhile, Marines who were looking to replace uniforms that had gotten worn out, lost or tactically acquired had to get creative with tailoring or purchase secondhand items, often at a premium, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

But the worst of the shortage is over, according to the Marine Corps.

The shortage had forced the Corps to issue only two sets of woodland cammies and one set of desert cammies to recruits, instead of the usual three woodland sets and two desert sets, Marine spokesman Maj. John Parry told Marine Corps Times in August 2023. That meant recruits sometimes had to train in flame-resistant organizational gear, or FROGs, a uniform typically reserved for deployments.

These days, however, recruits are once more receiving the full issue of uniforms, Parry told Marine Corps Times via email on Tuesday.

And the Marine Corps’ on-base exchanges have “adequate stocks” of cammies on their shelves, Parry said.

The Corps expects the shortage fully will be resolved by the end of June, according to Parry.

Some signs of the shortage linger.

The Navy Exchange website still lists combat utility items as out of stock, as of Thursday. In an email to Marine Corps Times, Kristine Sturkie, a spokeswoman for the Navy Exchange, attributed the lack of Marine utility uniforms in its stores or online to “the current USMC course of action and [the Defense Logistics Agency’s] supply chain availability.”

Unit leaders still are authorized to allow Marines to wear desert-colored cammies or FROGs, according to Parry. Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith said in September 2023 he was offering commanders that leeway because of the shortage.

“What we cannot have is a situation where a Marine is wearing unserviceable cammies, because that looks bad for the Corps, and we can’t have a situation where that Marine is being given a hard time about those unserviceable cammies,” Smith said.

Chuck Lambert, CEO of American Apparel Inc., the primary manufacturer of the uniforms, previously told Marine Corps Times the shortage arose from inflation and a tight labor market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those factors made production more expensive, causing trouble for manufacturers whose contracts had them selling uniforms at prices that had been fixed years earlier, according to Lambert’s explanation.

The Defense Logistics Agency in 2023 awarded three new combat utility uniform contracts, including to American Apparel Inc., in an apparent effort to alleviate the shortage, Marine Corps Times previously reported. American Apparel Inc. has no relation to the international retail clothing company of the same name.

“All vendors are producing and shipping on schedule,” Parry said Tuesday.

The Marine Corps consistently requires approximately 25,000 combat utility uniforms a month from its vendors, Lambert said via email to Marine Corps Times on Tuesday. American Apparel Inc., which has been involved with manufacturing those uniforms since they were rolled out in the early 2000s, now produces approximately 16,000 of that monthly total, according to Lambert.

“It’s been a very difficult time the last three to four years,” said Lambert, who praised his employees for their handling of the challenges in producing the uniforms. “We are glad that this effort and attitude has been beneficial to the Marines and their needed stock levels.”

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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