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Army Combat Uniform

Army Combat Uniform

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The Army Combat Uniform is the current combat uniform
Battledress
Battledress, or fatigues in the general sense, is the type of uniform used as combat uniforms, as opposed to 'display' dress or formal uniform worn at parades and functions. It may be either monochrome or in a camouflage pattern...

 worn by the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

. It is the successor to the Battle Dress Uniform
Battle Dress Uniform
The Battle Dress Uniform were the fatigues that the armed forces of the United States used as their standard uniform for combat situations from September 1981 to April 2005. Since then, it has been replaced in every branch of the U.S. military. Only the U.S. Navy currently authorizes wear of the...

 (BDU) and Desert Camouflage Uniform
Desert Camouflage Uniform
The Desert Camouflage Uniform is essentially the same as the United States military's Battle Dress Uniform uniform, only featuring the three-color desert camouflage pattern of light tan, pale green, and brown, as opposed to the dark green, black, brown, and dark tan of the BDU's woodland pattern...

 (DCU) worn during the 1980s and 1990s. It features a number of design changes, as well as a different camouflage pattern from its predecessor. The ACU and its component materials are manufactured by the existing industrial infrastructure which produced the now-obsolete BDU. ACU's are made of 50% nylon and 50% cotton. All other blends are not official issue.

Patterns



Universal Camouflage Pattern



The U.S. Army uses the Universal Camouflage Pattern
Universal Camouflage Pattern
The Universal Camouflage Pattern , also referred to as ACUPAT or Digital Camouflage is the military camouflage pattern currently in use in the United States Army's Army Combat Uniform. The pattern was chosen after several laboratory and field tests that occurred from 2003 to 2004...

 (UCP), which blends tan, gray and green (Desert Sand 500, Urban Gray 501 and Foliage Green =http://kitup.military.com/2009/12/camouflaging-yourself-and-equipment.html}} Pure black, when viewed through night vision devices, appears excessively dark and creates an undesirable high-contrast image.

MultiCam / OEF Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern


Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan (starting with the 173rd Airborne Brigade) are issued a version of the "MultiCam
MultiCam
MultiCam is a single camouflage pattern designed to help the wearer hide in varied environments, seasons, elevations, and light conditions. It is a 7-color, multi-environment camouflage pattern developed by Crye Associates in conjunction with U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center...

" pattern. Beginning in late 2010, all Soldiers deploying in support of Operating Enduring Freedom are issued flame resistant ACU's in Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP). These uniforms are designed to prevent third-degree burns and up to 30 percent of second degree burns. Additionally, the uniforms are treated with the chemical permethrin to help protect Soldiers from insect-borne diseases like malaria.

Components


The uniform features hook-and-loop fasteners
Velcro
Velcro is the brand name of the first commercially marketed fabric hook-and-loop fastener, invented in 1948 by the Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral...

 ("velcro") on the pockets.
The cost to each soldier is $76 per uniform, compared to $58 for a BDU
Battle Dress Uniform
The Battle Dress Uniform were the fatigues that the armed forces of the United States used as their standard uniform for combat situations from September 1981 to April 2005. Since then, it has been replaced in every branch of the U.S. military. Only the U.S. Navy currently authorizes wear of the...

, but clothing allowances in soldiers' pay have been adjusted to compensate for the increased cost. Insignia and tags, such as name and branch tapes, are extra purchases. Uniforms purchased from commercial websites and surplus stores that sell to the general public do not include the IR
IR flag
An infrared flag is a type of combat identification used by soldiers. They consist of a national flag or other identifying icon with a Velcro backing for application to a soldier's uniform on the upper arm or chest.-Function:...

 squares, which are restricted to military personnel because of their sensitive nature.

Jacket



The ACU jacket uses hook-and-loop-backed attachments to secure items such as name tapes, rank insignia, and shoulder patches and tabs, as well as recognition devices such as the American flag patch and the infrared (IR) tab.

Near Infrared (NIR) Signature Management Technology is incorporated to minimize the infrared silhouette. Permanent IR IFF
Identification friend or foe
In telecommunications, identification, friend or foe is an identification system designed for command and control. It is a system that enables military and national interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles, or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the...

 squares are sewn to each shoulder to help identify friendly personnel when night vision devices are used, and are protected by Velcro tabs in garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 or when not in use.

Three U.S. flag insignia are authorized for wear with the ACU: full-color, full-color IR, and subdued IR. The U.S. flag insignia (full-color or subdued) is worn on the right shoulder pocket flap of the ACU coat. The subdued version is only worn as directed under tactical or field conditions. On the right shoulder of the ACU, the U.S. flag is depicted with the union (stars) to the viewer's right, instead of the usual left (flag's own right); this is to give the impression of the flag moving forward with the wearer. Subdued shoulder sleeve insignia are always worn.

The jacket's Mandarin collar
Mandarin collar
A mandarin collar is a short unfolded stand-up collar style on a shirt or jacket. Mandarin collars start at the neckline and typically rise vertically two to five centimeters. The style originated from Western interpretation of dresses worn by Mandarins in Imperial China.The length along a...

 is worn up in combat to fit with the Improved Outer Tactical Vest
Improved Outer Tactical Vest
The Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or IOTV, is an enhanced version of, and a replacement for, the older Outer Tactical Vest variant of the Interceptor body armor, as fielded by the United States Army...

 (IOTV) body armor, and worn in the down position otherwise. The front closure is zippered and reinforced with velcro, designed for use with OTV. The tilted chest pockets, cuffs, and elbow pad insert pockets also utilize hook-and-loop closure. There is a three slot pen pocket on the left arm of the jacket, and blouse bellows for increased mobility.

Only pin-on skills badges are authorized for wear on the ACU, and no more than 5 may be worn at any one time. Skills tabs, such as the President's Hundred Tab
President's Hundred Tab
The President's Hundred Tab is a badge awarded by the National Rifle Association to the 100 top-scoring military and civilian shooters in the President's Pistol and President's Rifle Matches. The tab is authorized for wear on military uniforms of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy , and U.S. Coast Guard...

, Special Forces
Special Forces Tab
The Special Forces Tab is a service school qualification tab of the United States Army, awarded to any soldier completing either the Special Forces Qualification Course, or the Special Forces Detachment Officer Qualification Course , at the U.S. Army John F...

, Ranger
Ranger Tab
The Ranger Tab is a service school military decoration of the United States Army signifying completion of the 61-day long Ranger School course in small-unit infantry combat tactics in woodland, mountain, and swamp operations. In December 2009 a British NCO earned the Ranger tab...

, and Sapper
Sapper Tab
The Sapper Tab is a military badge of the United States Army which was authorized on June 28, 2004 by the Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker....

 are worn on the left sleeve pocket flap, and are subject to a 3 tab only rule. A tab that is an integral part of a unit patch, such as the "Mountain" or "Airborne" tab, is not counted against the rule. The U.S. Army Chaplain
Chaplain Corps (United States Army)
The Chaplain Corps of the United States Army consists of ordained clergy who are commissioned Army officers as well as enlisted soldiers who serve as assistants. Their purpose is to offer religious services, counseling, and moral support to the armed forces, whether in peacetime or at war.-Army...

 insignia is the only authorized branch insignia to be worn on the ACU. It is centered 1/8 inch above the right name tape. The insignia may be the metal pin-on variety or the black embroidered insignia on digitized fabric with hook and loop (velcro) fasteners.

Current regulations require the jacket to not extend below the top of the cargo pocket and not be higher than the bottom of the side pocket. Sleeves are to be worn down at all times, in contrast with the earlier Army BDU policy which authorized sleeve-folding for the summer uniform.

In the field, the jacket may be replaced by the flame resistant Army Combat Shirt
Army Combat Shirt
The Army Combat Shirt, or ACS is a flame-resistant shirt developed for the United States Army as an addition to the Army Combat Uniform. The ACS is a stand-alone shirt designed specifically for use with Improved Outer Tactical Vest armor in warm and hot weather. It is intended to greatly increase...

 when worn directly under the IOTV.

Trouser


The ACU trouser (or ACU pant) is worn with a two-inch nylon web belt, and features Velcro pouches for knee pad inserts, two forward-tilted thigh storage pockets with elastic drawstring and Velcro for closure during movement, and two calf storage pockets one on each pant leg with a Velcro closure. In addition, the pants legs can be bloused and must not extend past the third eyelet of the boots as per AR 670-1. Army Combat trousers with flame resistant materials are being issued for use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Headgear



Typically, the ACU is worn with the Advanced Combat Helmet
Advanced Combat Helmet
The Advanced Combat Helmet is the United States Army's current combat helmet. It was developed by the United States Army Soldier Systems Center to be the next generation of protective combat helmets for use by the U.S. Army...

, a patrol cap
Patrol cap
A patrol cap, also known as a field cap is a soft cap with a stiff, rounded visor, and flat top, worn by the military personnel of some countries in the field when a combat helmet is not required.-M1951 Field Cap and Ridgeway Cap:...

, or a boonie hat
Boonie hat
A boonie hat, also known as a bush hat, is a form of wide-brim hat commonly used by military forces. Its design is similar to a bucket hat but with a stiffer brim. Often a fabric tape band of 'branch loops' is sewn around the crown of the hat. This 'foliage ring' is meant to hold additional...

 as appropriate. The patrol cap
Patrol cap
A patrol cap, also known as a field cap is a soft cap with a stiff, rounded visor, and flat top, worn by the military personnel of some countries in the field when a combat helmet is not required.-M1951 Field Cap and Ridgeway Cap:...

 is a straight-sided, flat-topped soft cap, with a double thick bill and internal pocket. When in garrison, the maroon, tan, and green berets may be worn by paratrooper
Paratrooper
Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

s, Army Rangers, and Army Special Forces respectively. The foliage green or black micro fleece cap or a black knit cap is authorized in cold climates. The fleece cap may be folded with a 1-2" fold though it may not ever be rolled. (This is not included in the attached ALARACT. It refers to wear with the IPFU only). The name tape is worn on the back of the patrol cap. Sew-on rank is recommended but pin-on rank is authorized on the ACU Patrol Cap and ACU Boonie Hat. The MICH (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet) Camouflage cover rank must be sewn on if worn but is often not used as the night vision device mount would obstruct it.

T-Shirt


The ACU is worn with a moisture-wicking sand colored T-shirt
T-shirt
A T-shirt is a style of shirt. A T-shirt is buttonless and collarless, with short sleeves and frequently a round neck line....

. A Foliage Green T-shirt, which is 100% cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, has been authorized for wear by select soldiers and for some training environments or deployed soldiers; authorized environments include Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea. Black T-shirts are authorized for wear by certain instructors on Army posts (Ranger School, Sapper, Airborne, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, Sniper etc.).

Footwear


The ACU is worn with tan Army Combat Boot
Army Combat Boot
The Army Combat Boot is the primary issue combat boot of the United States Army, intended for use in conjunction with the Army Combat Uniform.-Variants:-Temperate:...

s and moisture wicking socks. Commercial versions of this boot are authorized without limitation, complying with the following regulations — be at least 8 inches in height, be made of tan rough side out cattle hide leather with a plain toe and tan rubber outsoles, and be without zippers, metal cleats, or side tabs. The Mountain Combat Boot
Mountain Combat Boot
The Mountain Combat Boot is a durable, hiking-style mountain combat boot used by soldiers in the United States Army. The boot is designed for rugged terrain and has the ankle stability, support and mobility required in a mountainous environment...

 is available for difficult terrain, Extreme Cold Vapor Barrier Boots
Bunny boots
Bunny Boots is the widely-used nickname for the Extreme Cold Vapor Barrier Boots used by the United States armed forces. The liner-less bulbous boots retain warmth by sandwiching up to one inch of wool and felt insulation between two layers of rubber and are typically worn with one heavy wool sock...

 for cold weather, and the Modular Boot System
Modular Boot System
The Modular Boot System is a multifunctional, multi-theater footwear system that will afford the soldier environmental protection and added capability in environmental conditions ranging from minus 20 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit...

 is being developed to replace the ACB.

Uniform care



Although common practice (though not required by regulation) with the BDUs, ACUs are not to be starched. As per the ALARACT message in effect until a new revision of AR 670-1 is released, "Soldiers will not starch the Army Combat Uniform under any circumstances. The use of starch, sizing, and any process that involves dry-cleaning or steam press will adversely affect the treatments and durability of the uniform and is not authorized."

Starching the uniform has been shown to cause discoloration. It enhances the IR signature, making the uniform inappropriately bright under night vision viewing.

Personnel have been instructed that the uniform must be washed with a mild detergent that does not contain "optical brightener
Optical brightener
Optical brighteners, optical brightening agents , fluorescent brightening agents or fluorescent whitening agents are dyes that absorb light in the ultraviolet and violet region of the electromagnetic spectrum, and re-emit light in the blue region...

s." Detergents with optical brighteners may cause discoloration of the uniform, which would nullify the purpose of the very specific camouflage design and result in possible unwanted detection of personnel using the uniforms in combat. Some detergents have phosphorescent properties which enhance an enemy's ability to see the soldier when viewed with night vision devices.

Soldiers have expressed concern about the velcro on the ACU. Dirt and mud can clog the hooks and loops or they can wear out with use, requiring the use of cleaning brushes for clearing the velcro as part of daily maintenance. Zippers have also been a topic of concern. Soldiers also express concern because the zippers (as with any zipper) can bind up, and render the uniform uncomfortable to wear, especially with Body Armor. According to the Program Executive Office Soldier "Commercial Velcro will be sold in clothing sales for the repair/replacement of Velcro. Additionally soldiers have been using the small weapons cleaning brush to clean out any sand and dirt from the pile and it has been working very well."

As of 2010, Velcro will be phased out in favor of buttons, which are silent, work well in dust, mud and snow, support heavier use and hold more securely.

Initial fielding


The process of replacing the Army's Woodland
M81 Woodland
Woodland pattern is the name of the default camouflage pattern issued to United States soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors from 1981, with the issue of the M81 Battle Dress Uniform until nearly the present day...

 (in use since 1981) and Three Color Desert pattern BDU
Battle Dress Uniform
The Battle Dress Uniform were the fatigues that the armed forces of the United States used as their standard uniform for combat situations from September 1981 to April 2005. Since then, it has been replaced in every branch of the U.S. military. Only the U.S. Navy currently authorizes wear of the...

 and DCU
Desert Camouflage Uniform
The Desert Camouflage Uniform is essentially the same as the United States military's Battle Dress Uniform uniform, only featuring the three-color desert camouflage pattern of light tan, pale green, and brown, as opposed to the dark green, black, brown, and dark tan of the BDU's woodland pattern...

  with the ACU was to begin in April 2005; however, the process began two months earlier through the Rapid Fielding Initiative. Soldiers from the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (United States)
The 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is a modular infantry brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard.One of the oldest units in US Army history, the lineage of the 48th Infantry Brigade can be traced back to 1825...

 were the first Army unit, active or reserve, to receive the ACU, subsequently deploying the entire Brigade into OIF combat in May 2005. Initial reception of the ACU was mixed, with complaints of insufficient durability and excessive maintenance. The use of multiple camouflage patterns within an organization is now seldom seen, as the ACU has been widely fielded.

Users

- Azerbaijani
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 Special Forces - Royal Bahamas Police Drug Interdiction Unit - Several "Blue Army" (OPFOR) units - paratrooper Special Forces - Dominican Navy Special Forces - ROK Army soldiers attached to U.S. Army units, KATUSA
KATUSA
KATUSA stands for Korean Augmentation To the United States Army. Qualified Korean draftees who demonstrate a high level of English fluency and aptitude via a standardized written exam may apply for a KATUSA slot...

 soldiers - Lebanese Paratroopers - Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) STAR
Special Task And Rescue
The Special Task And Rescue or STAR is an elite counter-terrorism and special forces of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency established to protect a local maritime assets of Malaysia. The team were started operating with minimum memberships with one Malaysian Maritime senior officer and one...

-Special Anti-terrorist Unit - U.S. Army, various civilian SWAT
SWAT
A SWAT team is an elite tactical unit in various national law enforcement departments. They are trained to perform high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular officers...

 units

Current

  • Airman Battle Uniform
    Airman Battle Uniform
    The Airman Battle Uniform is a service-distinctive camouflage battledress uniform for the United States Air Force. It is currently in full production and replaced the Battle Dress Uniform November 1st, 2011 after a four year phase-in period...

  • Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform
    Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform
    The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform is the current battledress uniform of the United States Marine Corps. It is also worn by Navy personnel assigned to Marine Corps units . Field testing began in 2001, the uniform debuted in 2002, and the changeover was completed in October 2004...

  • Navy Working Uniform
  • Improved Outer Tactical Vest
    Improved Outer Tactical Vest
    The Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or IOTV, is an enhanced version of, and a replacement for, the older Outer Tactical Vest variant of the Interceptor body armor, as fielded by the United States Army...

  • List of camouflage patterns
  • Near Infrared (NIR) Signature Management Technology
  • CADPAT
    CADPAT
    Canadian Disruptive Pattern is the computer-generated digital camouflage pattern currently used by the Canadian Forces . CADPAT is designed to reduce the likelihood of detection by night vision devices. The basic uniform consists of a wide brim combat hat, helmet cover, shirt, jacket, trousers,...

  • Uniforms of the United States Military
    Uniforms of the United States Military
    Each branch of the United States armed forces has its own Uniform regulations.*Uniforms of the United States Army*Uniforms of the United States Marine Corps*Uniforms of the United States Navy*Uniforms of the United States Air Force...

  • Uniforms of the United States Army
    Uniforms of the United States Army
    The uniforms of the United States Army distinguish soldiers from other service members. The two primary uniforms are the Army Combat Uniform, used in operational environments, and the Army Service Uniform, worn during formal and ceremonial occasions....

  • U.S. Army Service Uniform
  • Army Combat Shirt
    Army Combat Shirt
    The Army Combat Shirt, or ACS is a flame-resistant shirt developed for the United States Army as an addition to the Army Combat Uniform. The ACS is a stand-alone shirt designed specifically for use with Improved Outer Tactical Vest armor in warm and hot weather. It is intended to greatly increase...


Former

  • U.S. Army trial patterns
  • Battle Dress Uniform
    Battle Dress Uniform
    The Battle Dress Uniform were the fatigues that the armed forces of the United States used as their standard uniform for combat situations from September 1981 to April 2005. Since then, it has been replaced in every branch of the U.S. military. Only the U.S. Navy currently authorizes wear of the...

  • Chocolate-chip camouflage
    Chocolate-chip camouflage
    Desert Battle Dress Uniform was the camouflage used by the United States Military during the Gulf War and in the early 1990s. The camouflage received its nickname because it resembles chocolate-chip cookie dough...

  • Desert Night Camouflage
    Desert Night Camouflage
    The Desert Night Camouflage pattern is a two-color grid camouflage pattern used by the United States military during the Gulf War. It was designed to aid soldiers in concealment from older generation enemy night vision devices...


External links