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Archive for the ‘ACU’ Category

SMA Chandler Discusses ACU Changes

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Yesterday, in an unprecedented event, Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III took some time out of his busy schedule for some Q&A with the media about the recent ACU changes announced to coincide with the Army’s birthday. SMA Chandler led off with a great statement, “we’ve been working on Army uniforms for 236 years.” This was an excellent point, illustrating that the Army uniform evolves along with the Army. Overall, the briefing was excellent. In addition to comments on the new changes to ACU wear, he mentioned that they are working on improvements to the Physical Fitness Uniform, particularly the shorts. He also discussed the transition from ACUs to the ASU for those serving on the Army staff coming up in October.

Unfortunately, I felt like the heavy. When I asked the SMA why the Army had announced the ACU changes without utilizing the Army Uniform Board process, I was told, “The Secretary said we didn’t need to wait.” One point was made very clear, the Secretary of the Army makes the decisions. Both the SMA and CSA only make recommendations. Not real cool, especially when the Army hides behind that same process when they don’t want to move on something. I think I was more surprised that he thought that this was acceptable behavior than I was that it had actually gone down that way.

While some Soldier concerns over Velcro have been alleviated by the recent changes to rank and name tapes, one remaining issue with Velcro has yet to be dealt with. Many Soldiers want to replace the Velcro found on the ACUs cuffs with buttons. I thought this was a dead issue after speaking with PEO Soldier in August of 2009 about it. The concern is that buttons will not make the cuff tight enough around the wrist to prevent flames from traveling inside the sleeve in an IED event or fire. The SMA did reiterate this same sentiment.

SMA Chandler said that the beret and Velcro were the top two uniform concerns of the Soldier. One interesting question was asked by another blogger, “what was number three?” The answer was most revealing; MultiCam. Soldiers want MultiCam and the Army’s top NCO said that that wasn’t going to happen.

Personally, I really appreciate the access he afforded us. Additionally, he was very well informed, at least from the Point of View of the Soldier. While I said he was very well informed, one point concerns me. Institutionally, I found him to be a little lacking. He had been briefed that the Army is currently looking for new camouflage but his answers to my queries about total cost to recapitalize the Army’s Soldier Systems led me to believe that no one has bothered to ask how much this all will cost. He plain old didn’t know and tried to punt by explaining that the Army wouldn’t know until they had fully weighed the camo improvement program proposals from industry. The problem is, the prices for ACUs and OCIE aren’t going to change that much and they are looking at going from one pattern of ACUs to two or three per Soldier. That is going to add up.

The Army leadership needs to get out in front of this now before someone in Congress asks them how many Billions this will cost. And, mark my words, it will be in the Billions to completely replace the Army’s uniform and OCIE that has been purchased over the past seven years.

The changes to the ACU don’t mean much to me these days but it is good to hear that morale is so easy to raise. Change hats and add the expense of sewing on badges and all is well. But hey, it isn’t all gloom and doom. They’ve done something. And they plan to do more. That’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Implementing Instructions for ACU Changes

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Just prior to the Army’s 236th Birthday Bash they announced a couple of distinct changes to the ACU. Namely, the Patrol Cap is now the default headgear and that service/name tapes, rank and skill badges may now be sewn-on.

Army Directive 2011-11-001

Army Gets Early Birthday Present

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The Army announced on Friday two significant changes to the Army Combat Uniform. While the Army’s birthday isn’t until the 14th of June many held their birthday balls over the weekend where it was announced to the troops by unit leadership.


Army Photo: Susanna Avery-Lynch

First and foremost, the Chief of Staff of the Army, Martin E. Dempsey announced that the Patrol Cap will become the default headgear for the ACU. According to Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, who sees himself as the CSA’s “Scout”, the “The voice of the Soldier has been heard”.

“I am a scout for General Dempsey, who asked me to look into everything a Soldier wears from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet,” Chandler said. “These are changes that the field said they wanted to see.”

In a press release found on army.mil, SMA Chandler went on to explain he had spoken with “several thousand” Soldiers and also received comments via social media sites, like Facebook. “I have also discussed this with my board of directors — the most senior sergeants major of our Army,” Chandler said. Post-deployment combat uniform surveys were used as a basis for the changes.”

Please note that the Black beret is NOT going away completely but rather, only as the primary headgear for the ACU. It will however, remain the primary headgear for wear with the Army Service Uniform. The clothing bag will change slightly as Soldiers will only receive one issued beret. Berets may still be worn with ACUs at the direction of the unit commander. As far as we can tell this new direction only applies to the Black beret and not the Maroon, Green, and Tan worn by Airborne, SF, and Rangers. Although most of those guys wear PCs in ACUs already anyway.

The second big announcement is that Name tapes, US Army tapes and skill badges may now be sewn on. But get this, the Name and Army tapes have to be sewn-on OVER the Velcro. Unit patches, skill tabs, and the American flag will still be velcroed onto the ACU. Additionally, pockets will still be closed with Velcro so tell mama to separate her drawers in the wash if she doesn’t want them torn up by the Velcro.

Skill badges, which have been pin-on only up to this point may now be sewn-on as well. Of course this means that your “combat” uniform won’t be so combat if you sew them on, but the garritroopers should all be jumping for joy.

So, despite any goofy rumors you might have heard from someone who read a headline somewhere or half listened to an announcement, Velcro is NOT going away on the ACU.

Oh the irony. It was just a few years ago that the regular Army guys were sewing it on their BDUs and DCUs to look all special anyway. Now they all complain about it. Go figure.

Interestingly, the Army Uniform Board that normally decides such issues doesn’t meet until July so the past assertions by the Army leadership that uniform changes must wait for an AUB are bunk. Apparently, it’s ok to make unilateral decisions when it suits them.

As with all directives from on high, wait for implementing instructions from your unit leadership before complying.

Predator BDU Shipping A-TACS Pre-orders

Monday, March 14th, 2011

According to Tactical Fanboy Predator BDU is already shipping their A-TACS ACUs from Propper! That’s right, ahead of schedule. How often can you say that? This also means that they have them in stock.

www.predatorbdu.com

Amazing How Four Panels Can Say So Much

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

There has been much speculation on how the Army validated UCP for use. Mystery now solved!

The source for this brilliant spoof is PPT Ranger. Thanks to LH for the heads up.

The Latest on the MultiCam Uniform

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Late last month the Army issued ALARACT 189/2010 which provides guidance on the fielding of the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) uniform. This is the third name it has had and they haven’t even fielded any yet. First it was referred to as as the Afghanistan MultiCam Uniform (AMU), then the OEF FRACU, and now this. But to be honest, this is probably the best name yet as it is a bit more all encompassing.

The ALARACT goes on to describe which equipment and uniform items will be available in OCP. The Basis of issue will remain the same as for UCP but the new pattern will be phased in over time meaning there will be a period where Soldiers will wear a mixture of patterns. However, having spoken with PEO-Soldier’s SPIE we know that they are working to minimize this. While the basics will be available soon such as FRACUs, MOLLE, etc some items like Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE) won’t be ready until after the new year. No word on when the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform or Improved Combat Vehicle Crewman uniforms will be ready but they are on the list as well.

So what are the takeaways?

-Fielding will commence no later than Aug 2010 for forces deploying from CONUS and by Nov 2010 for units with 120 days retainability in theater
-The uniforms and equipment can only be worn enroute (to or from) or in Afghanistan
-No commercial sales including Military Clothing Sales Store of Insignia by authorized producers

The Buzz

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Well the main stream media finally caught up with us again this week. US Today published an article that the Army is going to eliminate Velcro from the cargo pockets on the ACU. This is hardly breaking news. We did a story on this last August, detailing numerous changes to the ACU. Unfortunately, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia who manages sustainment contracts for the ACU as well as the FR ACU which worn in combat, has yet to implement the improvements to any of the uniforms they are buying. PEO-Soldier on the other hand, is purchasing FR ACUs in MultiCam from a different contract so that combat troops in Afghanistan will have the advantage of the improved design.

The real irony in this, other than US Today chasing a story that is almost a year old, is that Velcro was added to the ACU based on use by Special Operations Forces. Big Army wanted what was perceived to work and they got it. Naturally and almost immediately, Soldiers began to complain. With Velcro, a little goes a long way.

MultiCam – What You’ll Get

Friday, March 5th, 2010

In a recent interview with PEO Soldier’s COL William Cole and LTC Mike Sloane they detailed efforts to field complete ensembles of clothing and equipment in MultiCam required for combat patrols in Afghanistan. This first article will discuss what is being issued.

In addition to four FR ACUs and Army Combat Shirts in the new pattern each Soldier will receive an accessory kit consisting of name tags, rank, and shoulder sleeve insignia. The Army Institute of Heraldry still has to weigh in on the colorway and designs of individual SSIs. Other uniform components include Generation III Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System. PEO-Soldier is also hard at work getting Patrol Caps, Sun Hats, Knee and Elbow Pads as well as entire MOLLE sets into production. These will include Individual First Aid Kits in addition to the new Tactical Assault Panel seen in the accompanying photo supplied by the program office. IOTV covers and Helmet Covers as well as Nape Pads will also be produced in MultiCam. Every detail is being seen to in order to meet their fielding goals of mid-summer.

In order to meet this deadline a new contract will soon be let by PEO-Soldier for FR ACUs. Rather than relying on the current sustainment contract managed by Defense Supply Center Philadelphia for FR ACUs in UCP, this will allow the numerous improvements to the ACU design we wrote about last year to be cut in early to this new purchase along with the change to MultiCam.

Spc. Eddie L. Williams, a computer detection repairer at Fort Belvoir, Va., models the new MultiCam Fire Resistant Army Combat Uniform
Photo: Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown

What you won’t get are MultiCam ACUs. Lots of guys are already running out and purchasing several sets in the hopes that one day they will be able to wear them. However, this isn’t the case. Although specific wear policy hasn’t yet been released for troops in Afghanistan, this has the potential for being a dream scenario for uniform nazis. If you thought it was hard to sneak into the chow hall after a patrol in your Army Combat Shirt, don’t even think about wearing your ACUs in MultiCam. Current in-theater policy requires Soldiers to protect themselves by wearing FR ACUs, whether UCP or MultiCam. If you are in the wrong uniform you will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Certain organizations on the other hand have fielded standard 50/50 NYCO (50% nylon/50% ripstop cotton blend) uniforms for some time. However, these do not provide the same level of Fire Resistant protection afforded uniforms manufactured from Tencate’s Defender-M like the issue FR ACU. Already industry is hard at work producing clothing and equipment on MultiCam that are designed specifically for use in Afghanistan. This includes FR products. Over the next several weeks Soldier Systems Daily will begin to unveil these products to you.