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Two Letters Re: Starch in ACUs

JWR Wrote [1]: “By the time the U.S. Army reached the ACU-issue period, starching was not allowed. You can be relatively certain that none of the OCP (“Multicam”) uniforms that you buy surplus have never been starched. Best Regards.”

As a guardsman of four years, I have seen starched and pressed ACUs at least a handful of times in direct violation of AR670-1. You would think these were being worn by old timers of the BDU era, but it’s a mixed bag. I have seen these on specialists trying to impress as well as Majors.

They are not common by any stretch, but they are out there. The best thing to look for is a telltale crease of any kind. ACU and OCP do not have any natural creases. If you see creases (especially in the pants and arms) move on. Apparently some soldiers think looking sharp is more important than following regs. – A.S.

o o o


Are you sure starch is more visible with FLIR? I fool around with FLIR for fun now and then inside and outside and I’ve never seen anything except a mirror (which shows your own reflection in the FLIR viewfinder) display any characteristics except its temperature. I just looked in a couple closets where there must have been some starch sometime and saw nothing regarding any non-temperature related showing.

Of course, we all know that starch (and scorpions) show up bright under ultraviolet light or even near ultraviolet.

JWR Replies: Even with just standard light amplification (“starlight”) night vision equipment, starched uniforms definitely stand out. See the photos and discussion here, for some examples: http://www.m4carbine.net/archive/index.php/t-9141.html

Because FLIRs can differentiate between temperature differences as small as 2 degrees F, there is no guaranteed method of completely disguising yourself from them when you are outside of a vehicle or shelter.

OBTW, I describe in detail how to counter FLIRs in my upcoming novel, Liberators. (Therein, I discuss Nemesis Suits [2], aka Turkey Suits, and their homemade equivalents.)

Starched uniforms are definitely a no-no when you are up against opponents using active IR and NVGs, and ALL standard, one-layer, fabric uniforms are vulnerable to FLIRs, once the fabric warms up toward your body temperature. That just takes a few minutes. Wearing a starched uniform only adds to that vulnerability, since it also makes you more visible to NVGs–especially when you are “painted” with an active IR emitter.