The left side of the house is up in arms because some military supervisors are telling folks to get their own gear if they want the latest and bestest military accoutrements. Go read about it at 2millionthweblog. Hat tip to Your Right Hand Thief, for the link.
Anyone who knows anything about the military knows that the junior members spend their hard earned money on equipment. Soldiers have been carrying their own stuff into battle since probably Alexander's time. Places like the US Cavalry Store and Ranger Joe's make a living selling the latest and greatest military equipment.
Military supply chains being what they are, a soldier in the field gets all the gear he needs to survive, and it is my experience that the time span from new gear coming out to being fielded is a heck of a lot quicker than it was just a few years ago.
In my day, soldiers carried their own equipment from the same motivation of the soldiers today. Some gear is cooler than the issue stuff. You want a cool Camelbak Hydration System? The army issues canteens.
It used to be boots. If you wanted to jump out of airplanes, you could risk breaking an ankle with the issue boots, or you could buy a pair of Corcorans from the Cav Store.
You want to carry a knife? The bayonet issued with the M16 was a piece of shit. Better to go get a Randall #1. The Marines got a good knife in their basic issue, a K-Bar, but no self respecting soldier would be found dead with a Marine issue K-Bar, and the retro leather scabbard just wasn't cool at all.
I won't even talk about the issue poncho, or the ubiquitous shelter-half.
This is supposed to be a big issue on the Dems talking points, but young GI's are going to carry their own gear. The government will issue what they need, but some of it just isn't cool enough. You can't stop those guys from buying stuff.
Hell, even Patton carried unissued pistols. He was forever being photographed with a S&W .357 magnum.