Sgt. 1st Class Marcia Triggs, Army News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. --
The Army will be fielding a new combat uniform designed by NCOs
and tested by Stryker Brigade Soldiers in Iraq since October.
On the Army's 229th birthday, senior leadership introduced the
Army Combat Uniform (ACU) during a Pentagon cake-cutting ceremony.
Soldiers were on display, suited-up in the wrinkle-free uniform with a
digitized camouflage pattern.
1st Class Jeff Myhre, the Clothing and Individual Equipment
NCOIC, sports the Army Combat Uniform, recently approved for
wear by Soldiers. (Photo
by Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Myhre)
Three different versions of the ACU have been developed, and
more than 10,000 uniforms have been produced and dragged through the
sand in Iraq and at Army training centers. Even more are on American
production lines to be issued by April 2005 to Soldiers in deploying
units. Fielding to the total Army should be complete by December 2007,
said officials from the Program Executive Office, known as PEO
There were 20 changes made to the uniform, to include removing
the color black and adapting the digital print from the Marine Corps
uniform to meet the needs of the Army, said Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Myhre,
the Clothing and Individual Equipment noncommissioned officer in
Black is no longer useful on the uniform because it is not a
color commonly found in nature. The drawback to black is that its
color immediately catches the eye, he added.
"The color scheme in the ACU capitalizes on the
environments that we operate in," Myhre said. "The current
colors on the ACU are green-woodland, grey-urban environments and sand
brown-desert. The pattern is not a 100-percent solution in every
environment, but a good solution across the board."
"This isn't about a cosmetic redesign of the
uniform," said Col. John Norwood, the project manager for
Clothing and Individual Equipment. "It's a functionality change
of the uniform that will improve the ability of Soldiers to execute
their combat mission."
Every change was made for a reason. The bottom pockets on the
jacket were removed and placed on the shoulder sleeves so Soldiers can
have access to them while wearing body armor.
The pockets also were tilted forward so that they are easily
accessible. Buttons were replaced with zippers that open from the top
and bottom to provide comfort while wearing armor.
Patches and tabs are affixed to the uniform with Velcro to give
the wearer more flexibility and to save the Soldier money, Myhre said.
Soldiers can take the name-tapes and patches off their uniforms before
laundering, which will add to the lifecycle of the patches. Also the
cost to get patches sewn on will be eliminated, he added.
The ACU will consist of a jacket, trousers, moisture wicking
T-shirt and the brown combat boots. It will replace both versions of
the BDU and the desert camouflage uniform. The black beret will be the
normal headgear for the ACU, but there is a matching patrol cap to be
worn at the commander's discretion.
At $88 per uniform, about $30 more than the BDU, Soldiers
eventually will reap gains in money and time by not having to take
uniforms to the cleaners or shine boots.
The life of the ACU began in January 2003 when PEO Soldier
teamed with Myhre, Master Sgt. Alex Samoba and Staff Sgt. Matt Goodine
- from the 1st Stryker Brigade, Fort Lewis, Wash.
The team looked at a number of uniforms and took the best part
of each uniform and combined it into one. They built their first
prototype and delivered 25 uniforms to Stryker squads at the National
Training Center. After listening to their comments, the team went back
to the lab and created prototype two.
Twenty-one uniforms were then delivered to Stryker Soldiers at
the Joint Training and Readiness Center, Fort Polk, La.
"We watched them as they entered and cleared rooms, as
they carried their rucksack and all of the things they had to be able
to do in the uniform, and then we came up with prototype three,"
Two issues of the third version were given to the Stryker
Soldiers deploying to Iraq.
Three months ago, Myhre was among a team who visited Iraq to
get more feedback from Soldiers.
"We would talk to Soldiers right after they had completed
a mission while the benefits of the uniform were still fresh in their
minds. We wanted to know how did the uniform help the mission."
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston is one of the ACU's
biggest supporters. He said major command sergeants major had a chance
to see the uniform and give advice toward the final version.
"We have not made a major change to our uniforms since the
BDUs (battle dress uniforms) were introduced in the early 1980s,"
Preston said. "This new uniform performs well in multiple
environments. Its new pockets and color designs are a result of
feedback from Soldiers in combat. Every modification made on the
uniform was designed with a specific purpose and not just for the sake
Uniform changes include:
1. Mandarin collar that can be worn up or down.
2. Rank insignia centered on the front of the blouse.
3. Velcro for wearing unit patch, skill tabs and recognition
4. Zippered front closure.
5. Elbow pouch for internal elbow pad inserts.
6. Knee pouch for internal knee pad inserts.
7. Draw string leg cuff.
8. Tilted chest pockets with Velcro closure.
9. Three-slot pen pocket on bottom of sleeve.
10. Velcro sleeve cuff closure.
11. Shoulder pockets with Velcro.
12. Forward tilted cargo pockets.
13. Integrated blouse bellows for increased upper body
14. Integrated Friend or Foe Identification Square on both left
and right shoulder pocket flap.
15. Bellowed calf storage pocket on left and right leg.
16. Moisture-wicking desert tan T-shirt.
17. Patrol cap with double thick bill and internal pocket.
18. Improved hot-weather desert boot or temperate-weather
19. Two-inch, black nylon web belt.
20. Moisture-wicking socks.