Starting next year, a more durable flame-resistant uniform will be available for Marines deploying to combat zones.

"They are not a sea-bag issue," said Charles Bell, project manager for infantry combat equipment. "They are not going to be handed out to every Marine."

During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it became clear that the Marine Corps' current flame-resistant uniform wears out too quickly, Bell told Marine Corps Times. The Enhanced Flame Resistant Combat Ensemble is designed to be tougher.

The enhanced uniform is slightly thicker than the flame-resistant uniforms that Marines have worn since 2008, Bell said. Both the current and enhanced uniforms are made from the same material and have the same properties, he said.

"All the other characteristics are the same," Bell said. "It's just more durable — it lasts longer."

The Marine Corps is purchasing 70,000 of the enhanced uniforms in the woodland green camouflage pattern, Bell said. They will be available for deploying Marines beginning in July 2017.

"They're not going to use it in training," Bell told Marine Corps Times. "They're not going to use it in the exchange or anywhere here. It's only for deployers, as in a contingency operation."

So far, the Marine Corps has not ordered the more durable uniforms in the desert camouflage pattern because the service has more than enough of the current flame-resistant uniforms for Marines fighting in desert environments, Bell said.

"We don't want to waste taxpayer money by buying something we don't need," Bell said. "We've still got a large stock. We will burn through that stock and then we will buy the enhanced durable version as needed."

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