Army Gets New Uniform

AP — Army Shows 1st Uniform Redesign Since ’81

The Army revealed on Monday a redesigned combat uniform with a digital camouflage pattern that looks strikingly different from soldiers’ current battle dress uniforms.

It marks the first major change in the Army uniform since 1981, said Brig. Gen. James R. Moran, who modeled the uniform for reporters at the Pentagon. He said recruits will be issued the redesigned uniform starting October 2005, and the entire Army will be outfitted by December 2007.

The uniform is being produced in a single, universal pattern to replace the two camouflage versions in current use: tan-brown for desert use and green-brown-black for woodland settings.

The pattern for the new camouflage coat and trousers is a mix of light green, tan and gray. Moran said it was designed to allow soldiers to blend into urban, desert and forest environments; it is similar to the Marines’ digital camouflage uniform except that it has no black in the pattern.

Soldiers also will get a new, no-shine, tan combat boot, and the current black boots will be discontinued.

The new uniform makes more use of Velcro, and the coat fastens in front with a zipper instead of buttons. Cuffs and pockets are fastened with Velcro, and the coat collar can be turned up and fastened Mandarin-style. The uniform is roomier and made with a no-wrinkle fabric.

The coat-trousers combination costs $88, compared with $56 for the current battle dress uniform.

Yikes, that’s expensive. I’ve long thought that having a battle dress uniform also serve as an everyday utility-fatigue uniform was silly. A set of the old green permapress fatigues can be had for under $20 and is considerably lower maintenance. This pattern does appear to be a significant upgrade for camouflage purposes, though, although I’m a bit skeptical of this as a desert uniform.

Now, if the Army could just get rid of those garish lime green shirts with the Class A and Class B uniforms. Given how infrequently most soldiers wear their Greens, I propose eliminating them entirely and re-instituting the Army Blue as the Class A.

The new uniform was designed in part to accommodate the new Interceptor body armor that soldiers are getting in Iraq (news – web sites) and Afghanistan for partial protection from bullets as large as 7.62mm. The Mandarin-style collar, for example, shields the neck from the Interceptor vest collar.

Moran said the Army will offer soldiers extra protection with add-on armor for the underarm area, which is not covered with protective plates in Interceptor vests. The deltoid protection will increase the weight of the armor vests from 16 pounds to 22 pounds.

About 50,000 sets of deltoid protection are to be available by the end of September.

Moran said the Army is looking for ways to protect soldiers better who risk death or injury from homemade bombs in Iraq, the weapons of choice for anti-U.S. insurgents.

“We have a clever enemy, an adaptable enemy,” he said.

UPDATE: More information and better pictures here.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jim says:

    Interesting,
    They remind me of the old Russian BDUs, but at $86 a piece I am wondering about affordability. As far as replacing the Class B and A uniforms…how does the old WWII dress uniforms sound?

  2. htom says:

    That looks more appropriate for an Urban Cammo than either Desert or Woodland.

  3. joy says:

    Actually, I like the Class A/B uniforms and would rather see the Dress Blues go.

    If you really have to attend Balls, Dinner Parties all that much, then go whole hog on Dress Mess for field grade officers (and above) and high ranking NCOs.

  4. James Joyner says:

    joy,

    I think you’re the only one who likes the green polyester look from the ’70s! The blues are the classic Army uniform going back to the 1800s.

    The WWII era uniforms were also much more attractive than the current ones; they’re at least made of wool.

    I’d keep Dress Mess for officers and senior NCOs who wanted them.

  5. Dave T says:

    Hmm VELCRO ….we took it OFF our combats (British Army) for the simple reason that (a) it starts losing grip once washed and (b) is so NOISY in the middle of the night when you are extracting a map etc from your pocket. Most of us replaced it with zips (well oiled) or buttons.

    Looks interesting though.

  6. Guy from Ohio says:

    Is it me or does that guys really stand out against the green background? And Dave T is right, velcro sounds like a bomb going off when you are trying to be quiet.

  7. Pvt. Lane says:

    I think the new uniform looks pretty gay.The green machine now looks blue , I say give it to the Air Force and let the Army keep green bdu’s.

  8. Mustang Officer says:

    I hope this is not the woodland print…I also hope the velcro was just a joke. My friends in the USMC are already calling me Padre because of the colar.

  9. Anonymous says:

    that uniform is a joke im not a fashion model but it is a limit to what i will wear im getting out of the army if we have to wear that in the rear.

  10. Anonymous says:

    wuz up with the rank in the middle and all the velcro that is the most hiddest thing ive ever seen if you wear that you need to change the boot color it serves no purpose with the gray uniform