The U.S. Army is on the defensive after it admitted to licensing out use of the seal of the historic 1st Division to fashion retailer Sears for their "Fall 2008 Collection," Politico.com reported.
The Army revealed to lawmakers Monday it sold use of the division’s storied “Big Red One” insignia for a line of Sears sportswear. Its Web site said the Pentagon finalized the deal in June 2007 through a licensing program authorized in 2005.
Combat veterans, meanwhile, are disturbed by what Stylist.com has dubbed the Army’s “all-out fashion offensive."
“What right does the Army have to sell our patch?” Charles Horner, who fought in the Army's 1st Division in Vietnam, told the website. “That patch is to be worn by only people who served in the 1st Division.”
Horner, whose father served in World War II, now works for Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who chairs the House appropriations panel overseeing the Pentagon's nearly half-trillion-dollar budget.
But soon, scores of sweating gym members fighting treadmill fatigue will be able to wear the patch, too. Sears plans to begin marketing the brand immediately.
“Strong brand identification through retail sales of products potentially can enhance the Army’s recruiting efforts and the public’s general goodwill towards the Army and its activities,” the Army said in its statement Monday evening. “The various marks can help build unit pride and esprit de corps, raise public awareness of the Army, support its recruiting effort.”
The Army has not said how much the Sears royalties will add to the defense budget.