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Army Combat Uniform

Facts about the Army Combat Uniform (ACU)

What is the Army Combat Uniform?

The Army Combat Uniform consists of a jacket, trousers, moisture wicking T-shirt and brown combat boots. The ACU will replace both versions of the battle-dress uniform 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. (Scroll down for illustrations)

What changes were made from the BDU?

There were 20 changes made to the BDU. 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 were also 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. Soldiers can take the nametapes 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.

Uniform changes include:

  • Mandarin collar that can be worn up or down;
  • Rank insignia centered on the front of the blouse;
  • Velcro for wearing unit patch, skill tabs and recognition devices;
  • Zippered front closure;
  • Elbow pouch for internal elbow pad inserts;
  • Knee pouch for internal knee pad inserts;
  • Drawstring leg cuff;
  • Tilted chest pockets with Velcro closure;
  • Three-slot pen pocket on bottom of sleeve;
  • Velcro sleeve cuff closure;
  • Shoulder pockets with Velcro;
  • Forward-tilted cargo pockets;
  • Integrated blouse bellows for increased upper body mobility;
  • Integrated Friend or Foe Identification Square on both left and right shoulder pocket flap;
  • Bellowed calf storage pocket on left and right leg;
  • Moisture-wicking desert tan T-shirt;
  • Patrol cap with double thick bill and internal pocket;
  • Improved hot-weather desert boot or temperate-weather desert boot;
  • Two-inch, black nylon web belt; and
  • Moisture-wicking socks.

Who will get the ACU?

All Soldiers, regardless of unit or function, will receive the new uniform.

When will Soldiers receive the ACU?

The ACU will be fielded to the Army – Active, Reserve and National Guard – beginning in April 2005. Soldiers in deploying units will be issued the new ACU first. Fielding to the total Army should be complete by December 2007, said officials from Program Executive Office-Soldier.


“We have not made a major change to our uniforms since the BDUs (battle dress uniforms) were introduced in the early 1980s. 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 of change.” — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston

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