Cover image: A Royal Marine from 45 Commando stands under the northern lights during the units winter deployment in Bardufoss, Norway (Picture: MOD).
Military Life

Would you wear used underwear like Norway’s military?

The Norwegian army has been experiencing a stockpile shortage of pants, socks and bras.

Cover image: A Royal Marine from 45 Commando stands under the northern lights during the units winter deployment in Bardufoss, Norway (Picture: MOD).

Would you wear used underwear as conscripts are being asked to do in Norway? Or would you rather go commando?

Military recruits in Norway have been ordered to return their used underwear, socks, and bras so that the next cohort of conscripts can use them.

The move to recycle pants comes out of necessity. The Norwegian military has admitted it is struggling to maintain supplies partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 8,000 young recruits enter the Norwegian Armed Forces every year. Conscription for both men and women is mandatory and lasts from 12 to 19 months.

Previously, the conscripts were expected to hand back their uniform at the end of service. They were, however, allowed to leave the barracks wearing their military-issued underwear and socks.

Now they are expected to hand them back in order to be washed and inherited by the next year’s recruits.

Hans Meisingset, the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organization press spokesperson, told AP News, that with "proper checks and cleaning, the reuse of garments is considered an adequate and sound practice".

The contingency plan was initially meant to be voluntary – former conscripts were given the option to give back their items of clothing.

However, due to delays in production and delivery which is being blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, giving back the undergarments is now mandatory.

Some on social media have expressed disbelief and disgust, with many saying they would not wear used underwear. While others have commended Norway on their practicality.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the situation with underwear in the military over the past year has improved – at least for the female personnel.

Prior to last year, women in the Swiss Army were issued with the same underwear as men. The men’s underwear was often too loose, did not fit well and was generally uncomfortable for women.

The Swiss military changed its underwear policy, to provide female recruits with underwear designed for women.

Two different sets of female underwear were made available – for the summer and winter seasons.

This was done in an effort to boost the recruitment of female staff. Currently, women make up about 1% of the Swiss armed forces.

The Alpine country has ambitions to increase that figure to 10 per cent by 2030. Allowing women to wear underwear that they feel comfortable in is one of the ways of getting there.

How far would you go to ensure the success of your military – would you wear used underwear? Let us know by emailing [email protected]