Grey or Gray man

Last Friday my friend and I were sitting on the front porch solving all the worlds problems over a few beers, come Saturday morning I realized we didn’t solve a damn thing but we sure talked like we did!

One of the topics we talked about was being a grey man. Not so much in a SHTF scenario, that has been written about ad nauseum in many places, but in general everyday life. You know just carrying out your daily routine. We talked about clothing, gear, guns etc. etc.

Clothing. Quite a few articles have been written about not wearing tactical pants, or camouflage, or any military gear at all.

My argument is and for awhile now is, that after 12 years of war (ohh I said the “W” word and not conflict) yes 12 years of war, most types of camouflage and what most consider military clothing has become pretty common place in society.  You see it everyday and really don’t see it (no pun). Most clothing stores sell some type of “cargo” pants and there is always some kind of generic camo pattern pants hanging in the blue jean aisle. Think about all the shirts or underwear. There are tonnes of them on the shelves in various patterns.

On Tuesday I saw a pretty well dressed woman her middle to late 50’s walk out of a store, hair all done up, nice blouse, high heals and a distressed pair of camo Capri pants on. The scene really struck me, especially after our conversation a few nights before. We see it but don’t. There are a few regular homeless guys that hang out a few blocks from where I work and they all have some sort of camo pant or jacket on.  Even in Afghanistan the are locals wearing woodland camo field jackets, some are Taliban and some are not. Granted they might get hassled for wearing it but non the less it has become common.

Boots, I see all sorts of tan suede military looking boots on people feet. During the invasion of Iraq wearing black boots was a give away that an Iraqi was former military, US soldiers found piles of them along the side of the road during the invasion. In the US as opposed to Iraq, we wear boots and shoes more than sandals.

Gear. I’m a self avowed gear whore. I don’t have every new piece of whiz bang gear but I have enough to make my life a bit more comfortable when in the field. I work in a business casual workplace (ok, a building full of computer geeks) and I can’t tell you how many guys I see carrying a folding knife clipped to one of their pockets somewhere on their body, classic military. What soldier or Marine doesn’t have one near by?

Just walk around your local mall or school campus, maybe a school campus isn’t a good example to use anymore but a place where there is a large gathering of professionals or students. Not a lot but a fair number are carrying some sort of tactical looking back pack. How about a para-cord bracelet? Look at all the mil surplus websites selling gear.

So is grey really grey? blending with your surroundings is rule number one when trying to be grey. Wearing a winterish coat in the summer is not blending with the populace. And just because you are dressed like the locals, don’t for one minute think they don’t know who you are. In both Iraq and Afghanistan in a round about way they locals will tell you that there are not “locals” milling around or visiting late in the night. Accents. I have a very neutral accent (if there is such a thing as neutral) one would say that if I were in Dallas TX, or Raleigh NC I would stand out, or how about Florida? Probably not now a days. With today’s population being so mobile there are many transplants that have not or refused to pick up the local accent.

I guess it all boils down to situational awareness, knowing your surroundings and just playing it cool. having a AK strapped on your back is not being low key, unless your in Iraq where every household is allowed one AK per family. But they all carry lots of cash, American’s carry plastic.

If I were to choose a color, grey would be for me.




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