Say Goodbye to BDU's
Battle Dress Uniforms are so "last year."
Now it's the wrinkle-free, wash and wear, velcro enhanced, slot-fitted, slanted-pocket Army Combat Uniform (ACU).
February 7, 2007
Army Is Going Wrinkle-Free; Velcro Becomes Norm
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
FORT LEWIS, Wash., Feb. 5 — Besides the hidden slots for knee and elbow pads, the extra room in the shoulders and the mod mandarin collar, the new Army uniform has a revolutionary feature critical to a nimbler military.
“You can just throw it in the dryer,” said Sgt. Donald Fisher, an instructor at this base for 30,000 soldiers about an hour south of Seattle. “You save money on dry cleaning.”
At military bases across the country and overseas, the era of the wash-and-war soldier has arrived. From Baghdad to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York, the Army has been retiring its old starched and pressed Battle Dress Uniform in favor of a wrinkle-free cotton and nylon version.
The new Army Combat Uniform — known, of course, by an Army acronym, A.C.U. — has been phased in over the last two years as the Battle Dress Uniform, or B.D.U., becomes obsolete by May 2008.
The change has largely been welcomed by soldiers who have seen civilian fashion evolve in form and function in the quarter century since the old uniform was introduced. It also has come with repercussions, inside and outside the military, that are inevitable when half a million people suddenly get a new everyday wardrobe.
While soldiers say they like the comfort, the look and the low maintenance, they complain almost universally about the Velcro, which has largely replaced needle and thread as the means for attaching patches to show name, rank, unit and other information.
And while some dry cleaners and seamstresses near military bases, long the invisible valets of the well-pressed soldier, have lost so much business that they have had to close stores, soldiers say they do not miss the creases.
Actually the new uniforms, designed with input from NCO's, were introducted on June 14, 2004. The wrinkle-free uniform have a digitized camouflage pattern with no black. Patches and tabs attach with velcro and are removed before laundering which lengthens the life of the patches.
In addition to the overall pattern and color changes, the ACU changes include:
1. Mandarin collar that can be worn up or down
2. Rank insignia affixed above right chest pocket
3. Velcro for wearing unit patch, skill tabs and recognition devices
4. Zippered front closure
5. Elbow pouch for internal elbow pad inserts
6. Knee pouch for internal knee pad inserts
7. Elastic 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 mobility
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 desert boot (no shine required)
Like everything else the price of these new uniforms ,$88, has almost doubled over the cost of the old BDU's.