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For some backstory, the United States Garrison is the new military of a post-apocalyptic US where modern civilization and every single country around the world fell due to zombies and a ravenous virus that wiped out 82% of humanity back in the mid-2000s’. The skeletal remains of the US Government was able to reorganize and reform itself and liberated Washington, giving birth to the District of Columbia (https://imgur.com/gallery/6HH4vG8), with the government hoping to one day liberate and retake the entire country.

The US Garrison is what was once the US military. After liberating Washington, the five branches of the military unified to form a single military force with no individual, independent branches, a single, shared rank system, the same uniforms, same service flag, etc. This was done in order to cut down on unnecessary redundancies as well as to pool together resources and manpower so that they can be better utilized.

So far, I’m stuck on what standard combat-utility uniform Troopers (what someone in the Garrison is called) should wear. I’m currently stuck between the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_Corps_Combat_Utility_Uniform#/media/File%3AU.S._Marines_Combat_Utility_Uniforms_2003%2C_Full-Color_Plate_(2003)%2C_by_John_M._Carrillo.png) and the ranger green FBI HRT uniform [https://images.app.goo.gl/ytpAFBQdCzK3hbtg7].

So in a zombie-filled post-apocalyptic scenario, what uniform would make more sense for the Garrison to adopt for everyone?

(And just so that we’re clear, I’m deciding between these two specific uniforms. I appreciate other ideas and suggestions but I’ve narrowed my choices down to these two specific sets of uniforms. If you make a suggestion, please decide on either the Marine Corps or FBI HRT uniform).

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    $\begingroup$ This is a political question. If the other services were merged to one parent service over time the uniform of that service would be largely retained. If there was a single unification decision an entirely new and neutral uniform would be designed. In fact I think the latter would be likely even without unification as powers that be would want a new uniform to visually display that their great achievement opened an entirely new phase in the conflict. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi May 16 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ the answer in In a general sense, would it be better to equip troops with plate carriers, body armor, etc. if they’re fighting against zombies? may can help you, i believe theres no difference here, unless you mean in a naval zombie situation? for the marine. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun May 16 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ Also, what is the technological situation? Are we still in a condition where we can make any cloth or other material used we can make now in the abundance we have now? Can we then manufacture it as easily as we do now? The first requirement of the uniform is mass production. $\endgroup$ – Mary May 16 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Mary I’d say that fairly advanced tech level has been brought back. We can still make clothes easily and everything. $\endgroup$ – user69268 May 16 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ “ This was done in order to cut down on unnecessary redundancies as well as to pool together resources and manpower so that they can be better utilized.” Say what? No. This would not cut down on redundancies. What it would do is put land war experts in command of air units and vice versa. Among many other problems. You broke suspension of disbelief for me with this comment. $\endgroup$ – SRM May 17 at 1:58

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Pinneys.

girl in pinney

Aka scrimmage vests. In your future world good clothes are hard to come by and changing clothes all the time is a luxury for the super-rich. Your soldiers wear what they wear. But it is good to know who your friends are and so they have pinneys to put on when they are active. Your troops have actually come into possession of a great number of pinneys and so they might periodically change colors. This helps when there is a division of labor among the troops (Orange you take the left! Pink, we're up the middle!) and also to distinguish zombified soldiers who might still be wearing the pinneys used in a previous battle.

The numbers are very helpful during combat. You can shout at soldiers by number if you don't know their names or cant tell who they are because of the mud and gore. That works so well in sports (though usually there is not gore) that I have always been puzzled that soldiers did not have big numbers on them to distinguish individuals at a distance.

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    $\begingroup$ Something tells me that if Lt. Joe and his platoon got into a firefight against hostile combatants, he probably doesn’t want to have pieces of metal punch through his body because the enemy found out that that the platoon commander is #17 and they want him dead... $\endgroup$ – user69268 May 17 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ While I like the idea in the sense that it is creative in the face of limited resources, the part about numbering soldiers or using different colors don’t work. Numbers have a problem of scale. What size unit gets specific numbers? If you pick the larger size like companies or larger, you'll have issues with larger numbers taking too long to use and sounding similar(120 or 20). If you pick a smaller size like squads or platoons, what happens when more than one are mixed? Different colors ruin the purpose of uniforms, that they serve to make the entire army seem to be a single unit. $\endgroup$ – Adam Reynolds May 17 at 3:04
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    $\begingroup$ @AdamReynolds The Romans had numbers at the contubernium, century, cohort, and legion levels. So if your Decanus called an order that matched your number and you are a contubernal, then you know he's talking to you. If you are a decanus and a centurion calls an order by number, then that is what you are listening for, centurions are numbered by thier pilus, and pila by thier legate, and legates by thier imperial legate. This way, the numbers never get all that big even in armies of 10s of thousands of men. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki May 19 at 20:52
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A combat uniform has several purposes:

  • Camouflage gives you an advantage if you are ever caught in firefight, where you have a marginal advantage in not being visually distinguishable to your surroundings
  • Promotes a sense of camaraderie and belonging to the group - if everyone is dressed the same

However your setting may be a bit different:

  • Camouflage may not be that useful against zombies, depending on how they detect and 'see' you. It may actually be an advantage to appear 'ordinary' to your zombies if they find it difficult to distinguish you against other zombies. Camouflage in this context may actually mean you should have blood soaked civilian clothes instead.
  • In a survival situation camaraderie may have lesser priority to resource allocation, in particular in times where resources would be diverted from eating, blankets or other more useful items to making uniforms. Your troops may actually object to having uniforms if it means they sleep cold at night.

I am reminded of an incident where in WW2 Stalingrad the trapped German 6th Army were starving and dying of cold, and a plane load of supplies landed for them only to find out it was full of uniforms, with no food. Reports were this reduced morale and created anger more than the surrounding enemy did.

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    $\begingroup$ The thing is that while zombies are a very real and very serious threat, hostile human combatants are also a major threat. DCin my world is currently fighting an ongoing (albeit inactivate) War with a rival faction call the Virginia Federation. Also, the current year in my world is 2027, so it’s at least two decades ever since the world fell and industries have gotten back up and running during that time. $\endgroup$ – user69268 May 16 at 17:07
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So in a zombie-filled post-apocalyptic scenario, what uniform would make more sense for the Garrison to adopt for everyone?

  1. As this is US-based and 80% of the US population is urbanized, the military will end up using the perfect urban camouflage and dress up in trash (clickable pic):

    Perfect Urban Camouflage

    But instead of using their camouflage to scare humans, they'll just lay in ambush and shoot zombies and then just lay down again or move to the next block...

  2. In rural areas they'll use this uniform borrowed from their British counterparts (also clickable pic):

    Rural camouflage

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How about a practical consideration:

Whatever you found enough of in a warehouse.

Unification in the face of crisis is going to be quick. Urban areas may not have manufacturing facilities. So you use what you can find. Even if it is something silly like a sports jersey. Later on, you might start stylizing it. A few tweaks after a decade, more the next, etc. Or, you might make a new uniform based on changing need, like making sure yours is different from the neighbor you are at war with.

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There are multiple answers here as to why this makes little sense, from different branches of the military exist for different purposes (an Infantry Colonel has theoretically the same rank and authority as a Naval Captain, but is not going to be able to effectively command a ship, nor will the Captain be able to effectively command a battalion), to resource allocation (who is making these uniforms and where are all the raw materials coming from).

The Confederate Army of the Civil War is illustrative. Although we commonly think of them as being dressed in grey uniforms, in the early stages of the war many Confederates still wore American "Blue" uniforms (Stonewall Jackson was perhaps the most famous example) until the supply situation was sorted out, and the Confederacy very rapidly ran out of the ability to make and supply uniforms at all, with soldiers essentially fighting in "work clothes", and often without any shoes to wear either.

enter image description here

Confederate soldiers in a contemporary picture

While "pre war" uniforms are hard wearing, they will eventually wear out, and soldiers, sailors and airmen will end up wearing coveralls or some other utilitarian garb. Since modern soldiers have lots of "things" to carry, uniforms have a multitude of pockets, so clothes will either be modified to have cargo pockets sewn on, or the solders will make/find vests with lots of carrying pouches. Different branches of service might eventually be indicated by an armband or patch sewn on the sleeve.

enter image description here

Bosnian Civil war. Wearing whatever they can find

Clearing out stores and warehouses will work to a certain extent, cargo pants, hunting gear and other pseudo military clothes are considered fashionable, so there should be a basic supply of utilitarian clothing to wear. However, the purpose of uniforms is partially to reinforce unit identity, so different units and different branches (which perform different tasks) are going to adopt something like a unit patch, brassard, headgear or other distinguishing mark, based on what sort of resources are they can get access to.

enter image description here

Polish Home Army wearing identifying arm bands

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If the choices are STRICTLY between Marine Combat Utility Uniform and a Ranger Green utility uniform, I'd go for Ranger Green just because it's easier to make and utilitarian enough. Camouflage is not an issue against zombies, obviously.

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    $\begingroup$ I can't seem to find the other one, but this is one of two answers that belong on this page. +1 for sparing us from a diatribe of the unrelated. $\endgroup$ – Mazura May 18 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ THANK YOU. I appreciate the other responses and suggestions from others but I just want a straight answer like yours. $\endgroup$ – user69268 May 19 at 1:53
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What makes the most sense to me if I'm writing it?

Keep the old uniforms and use the appropriate cameo for the mission or platoon/squad/whatever size based units.

That is your forces would be more specialized and depending on the stats and experience you would use that unit, broad sense here not actual term, for the mission.

Why? Because who cares about uniforms if the world ended and you need your workers to produce food, meds, ammo, and other essential stuff! Honestly. The idea that you would dedicate enough resources to replace the current uniforms seems silly in the context.

And like I said even if they have to fight opposing human soldiers they can use whatever cameo is available then. No need to waste already existing stuff.

However I'd add something extra to it. Like ribbons or a bar on the chest or a new flag patch or something like that. Just so they fit in more with the news regime.

But changing uniforms would be silly and I'm sure actual soldiers would be wondering why bother if they already have a lot of stuff they can actually use.

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Zombies are going to be your primary villain, but there may be other governments or rogue elements running around in this world. It's going to be a messy place and not everyone is going to be friendly toward your protagonists. (At least I think they shouldn't be all friendly)

That being said the troops may at some point logically need concealment from human adversaries - thus I'd go with the Marine uniform.

BTW - you mention standardization has happened in this world - keep in mind services are proud of their symbols (insignia, flag, uniform) so depending on how much time has passed there may be animosity about standardizing. After a few years the wounds will be fresh; a generation or two may be less. May be an opportunity for drama for you.

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The Ranger Green is closer to what I would expect, but lacks some consideration for the environment you've created.

Assuming this is your 17 years later scenario, the reason for new uniforms is probably not just about combining the military into a single organization, but because all of your old uniforms have already been worn way past thier expected life spans (along with most of your other pre-apocalypse textiles).

Washington DC is not in a great geographic location for the fossil fuels used to make polymer based cloths and dyes, nor is it a great place for many of the plants we normally associate with the textile industry. This means that DC is either importing truck loads of what is likely very expensive textiles through zombie ridden hellscapes, or they have to meet thier own textile needs with what they have.

With much of the world still dominated by zombies, I'd opt to suggest that they figured it out themselves. The best native plant for this is actually going to be stinging nettle. Despite it's intimidating name, it is a great plant for textiles in that it makes a cloth with a fiber coarseness that is finer than flax or hemp but stiffer than cotton. This makes it ideal for making uniforms that are both comfortable and tough. It also has a natural beige color so you don't need to dye it for it to make for pretty decent urban camouflage.

Furthermore, stinging nettle is an edible weed; so, your survival conscious population can grow lots of it with very little effort, eat it, and use it for textiles making it a potential staple crop for your DC survivors.

enter image description here enter image description here

If you choose to dye your cloth a solid green which might be important to distinguish your soldiers from your common folk you can use Bloodroot (a native plant) or vitriol green (a mineral commonly found in old iron mines). But achieving a print like the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform is not very feasible without polimer fossil fuel based dyes.

enter image description here enter image description here

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Have you read World War Z?

If you have, then this question is 100% redundant. As Brooks realised, if you're fighting zombies then you don't need bulletproof body armour, camouflage, heavy weaponry, any air force except for transport, or any navy. For your uniform, what you need is just full-body covering, made from material which is reinforced to be tear- and puncture-resistant (so nails and teeth can't easily get through) and is relatively waterproof (so blood splatter won't touch you), plus a face mask with eye protection. The colour really doesn't matter.

And if you haven't read World War Z yet, then you should prepare yourself to throw away everything you've done so far. Brooks has already told his version of this story, on a global scale and on a human scale, with perfect attention to every detail. You may be able to tell a different story, but you need to know what the state of the art is in this genre.

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  • $\begingroup$ I love the novel and I consider it one of the greatest works of science fiction in the 21st century but I mean, come on, let’s be honest, I doubt that it should be THE absolute guide to zombie fiction. World War Z is the same novel that had the military spend a stupidly unnecessary amount of money and resources creating and adopting a completely pointless new service rifle even though an M16A4 can do the same job as a SIR while also having the benefit of already existing in military armories around the country. Also, there’s no way that the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard are THAT useless. $\endgroup$ – user69268 May 17 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ Plus, my zombies don’t follow the exact logic as Brooks’ zombies in WWZ. I may have been INSPIRED by them but they’re not the exact, same ones from the novel. And about body armor, camouflage, heavy weaponry, and an Air Force and Navy being “useless”, even though they’re “useless” against against the undead, I’m pretty sure they’re very useful against hostile human combatants (who absolutely exist in my world). $\endgroup$ – user69268 May 17 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @user69268 Then the scenario is not really as you represented in your question. Ask a question which better describes what you're wanting to figure out, and you'll get answers that work better for you. $\endgroup$ – Graham May 18 at 8:15

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