You may notice that Marines in Iraq have some variation in uniforms and gear. There are two basic camo patterns you’ll see: woodland and desert (pixelated). What a Marine wears depends on which area of Iraq is that unit’s main deployment zone. For our purposes, Baghdad-based Marines seem to primarily be outfitted in the desert camo pattern.
The combat gear required changed slightly between the start of the Iraq War, and after Saddam was captured. At the start of the war, all troops were required to wear gear and clothing that protected them from chemical weapons, which were a common tool of Saddam’s forces (remember Chemical Ali?).
These MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) suits were hot and awkward in the early days of the invasion. Here’s an excerpt of a Military Times article: “Forget about all the money and research poured into the Corps’ new combat utility uniform, which has a new digital camouflage pattern different from the field uniforms of other services. The MOPP suits most Marines are wearing come in the same woodland print sported for decades, with cargo pockets on the legs and Velcro tabs at the ankles to hold them tight around their boots. Their new [digital pattern] cammies stuffed away in backpacks, most Marines are mismatched, with tan flak jackets and desert-patterned helmets standing in sharp contrast to the green suits and t-shirts underneath. The black rubber overboots — worn, at times, for 48 hours or more — trap heat and block airflow.”
MOPP suits also required service members to wear elaborate chemical/gas masks for long stretches of time. By the time we get to the moment of this play, most of the MOPP components have probably fallen by the wayside, but I like the notion of the mismatched quality of the uniform.
In terms of protective gear…
• “Whether traveling in a vehicle outside the wire or assisting in an operation off base, Marines and Sailors are required to wear their Interceptor vest with small arms protective inserts, groin and neck protectors, Kevlar helmet, ballistic-proof eyewear, polypropylene neck protector and gloves” [Source]
- Utility uniform — Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU), with MARPAT camouflage digital pixelated pattern in woodland and desert variants.
- Load Bearing Vest (LBV) — The vest could be the current standard-issue, second-generation, MOLLE Fighting Load Carrier vest (FLC) or the late 1980s to early 1990s IIFS non-modular load bearing vest (LBV-88). The latter is more popular for durability. An operator may also use a third-party LBV, and chestrigs are popular.
- Rucksack — A large backpack for items accessed less often. Marines have publicly voiced a preference forALICE packs, introduced in 1974, over the newer MOLLE packs, but individual operators may buy third-party packs which surpass both products in durability. The MOLLE packs were replaced by the Arc’teryx-designedILBE.
- First aid kit — A personal-sized first aid kit that is carried usually fastened onto webbing of the rucksack or personal vest carrying system.
- Tactical knee pads and elbow pads — For protection comfort as Marines move into various firing positions.
- Boots — Equipment-bearing hiking boots or specialized hiking shoes.
- Combat Helmet and tactical goggles — Lightweight Helmet or other Kevlar helmets
- Nomex balaclava — A hood with a large opening for the eyes. NOMEX is a flame retardant fabric that was developed during post-Korean War era for use by aircraft pilots that has since been found useful for many other applications.
- Ballistic vest — Interceptor Body Armor. Marine Corps’s Modular Tactical Vest (MVT)