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Army Combat Uniform (ACU)
On June 14, 2004, fielding of the new ACU was announced
MILPER message announced new wear policy and amendments to AR 670-1
Soldiers who deploy are now being issued the ACU (since Feb 05) and ACU pattern items (including IBAS)
The ACU Ensemble
ACU coat / trousers
ACU patrol cap
Hot weather boots (desert tan, suede boots)
2 inch riggers belt (tan or black authorized)
Moisture wicking t-shirts (tan)
Velcro full color flag, nametapes, rank, organizational patches (authorized in ACU pattern or OD)
Items Authorized with the ACU
ACU sun (boonie) hat
Socks (black, cushion sole)
Gore-Tex parka and pants, ACU pattern
ACU Fleece (black or loden green)
T-shirt (brown, cotton and moisture wicking)
Combat and Special Skill Badges (pin on subdued [optional] 5 max)
SSI-FWTS (combat patch)
Hydration systems, and organizational clothing and equipment (as determined by the commander)
During the phase in process, there will be a mix of camouflage pattern items, such as wearing the ACU’s with a woodland Gore-Tex parka.
The Commander can authorize a mix of DCU and Woodland items until the ACU pattern is completely phased in to all equipment systems
Wash and Wear Policy
“SOLDIERS WILL NOT STARCH THE ARMY COMBAT UNIFORM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. THE USE OF STARCH, SIZING, AND ANY PROCESS THAT INVOLVES DRY-CLEANING OR A STEAM PRESS WILL ADVERSELY AFFECT THE TREATMENTS AND DURABILITY OF THE UNIFORM AND IS NOT AUTHORIZED”
-ACU MILPER MESSAGE, AMENDMENT TO
Designed to be worn under body armor (IBAS)
Will be worn by soldiers all year round except when prohibited by the order of the commander
The ACU may be worn off post unless prohibited by the commander
The ACU will not be worn while on commercial travel unless previously authorized under AR 670-1, paragraph 1-10C.
Soldiers will not wear the ACU at any off-post establishments that primarily sell alcohol. In off-post establishments where both alcohol and food are sold, soldiers may wear their ACU’s only if their activities do not center on drinking.
ACU’s are not appropriate attire for social or official functions off military installations such as funerals, memorial services, weddings, political events, patriotic ceremonies, etc. Sewn on rank is only authorized on the ACU Patrol Cap, ACU Boonie Hat, and Kevlar Camouflage cover.
The ACU is meant to fit loosely and comfortably. Alterations to hinder this appearance are not authorized.
Wear of the ACU Coat / Trousers
THE COAT IS WORN HOOK AND LOOPED AND ZIPPED
THE COAT HAS HOOK AND LOOP FASTNERS FOR WEARING THE U.S. FLAG INSIGNIA,
SKILL TABS, SHOULDER SLEEVE INSIGNIA, SHOULDER SLEEVE INSIGNIA – FORMER WARTIME SERVICE, RANK, U.S. ARMY TAPE, AND NAME TAPE.
THE COAT HAS A ZIPPERED FRONT CLOSURE, TILTED CHEST POCKETS WITH HOOK AND LOOPED CLOSURE, HOOK AND LOOPED SLEEVE CUFF CLOSURE (WHICH MUST BE CLOSED AT ALL TIMES), INTEGRATED BLOUSE BELLOWS FOR INCREASED UPPER BODY MOBILITY, AND SHOULDER POCKETS WITH HOOK AND LOOP.
THE MANDARIN COLLAR WILL BE NORMALLY WORN IN THE DOWN POSITION.
SOLDIERS ARE AUTHORIZED TO WEAR THE MANDARIN COLLAR IN THE UP POSITION WHEN WEARING BODY ARMOR OR WHEN WEATHER CONDITIONS DICTATE THE WEAR AS PRESCRIBED BY THE COMMANDER.
THE COAT IS NORMALLY WORN OUTSIDE THE TROUSERS, AND THE TROUSERS ARE WORN WITH A BELT. THE COAT MAY ALSO BE WORN INSIDE THE TROUSERS WHEN DIRECTED BY THE COMMANDER (I.E., WHEN WEARING IBAS, MOPP GEAR, ETC.).
THE COAT WILL NOT EXTEND BELOW THE TOP OF THE CARGO POCKET ON THE TROUSERS AND WILL NOT BE HIGHER THAN THE BOTTOM OF THE SIDE POCKET ON THE TROUSERS.
THE ELBOW POUCH WITH HOOK AND LOOP CLOSURE FOR INTERNAL ELBOW PAD INSERTS MUST BE CLOSED AT ALL TIMES.
PERMANENT INFRARED FEEDBACK SQUARES AFFIXED TO EACH SHOULDER FOR NIGHTIME IDENTIFICATION WILL BE COVERED WHEN INSIGNIAS ARE NOT WORN ON THE POCKET FLAPS.
SLEEVES WILL BE WORN DOWN AT ALL TIMES, AND NOT ROLLED OR CUFFED.
THE MOISTURE WICKING TAN T-SHIRT OR COTTON T-SHIRT IS WORN UNDERNEATH THE COAT AND IT IS TUCKED INSIDE THE TROUSERS AT ALL TIMES.
SOLDIERS WILL WEAR THE TROUSERS TUCKED INTO THE TOP OF THE BOOTS OR BLOUSED USING THE DRAW STRINGS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE TROUSERS OR COMMERCIAL BLOUSING DEVICES.
PERSONNEL WILL NOT WRAP THE TROUSER LEG AROUND THE LEG TIGHTLY ENOUGH TO PRESENT A PEGGED APPEARANCE OR INSERT ANY ITEMS INSIDE THE TROUSER LEG TO CREATE A ROUND APPEARANCE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE TROUSER LEG.
WHEN BLOUSED, THE TROUSERS SHOULD NOT EXTEND BELOW THE THIRD EYELET FROM THE TOP OF THE BOOT.
THE KNEE POUCH WITH HOOK AND LOOP CLOSURE FOR INTERNAL KNEE PAD INSERTS AND THE BELLOWED CALF STORAGE POCKET WITH HOOK AND LOOP CLOSURE ON THE LEFT AND RIGHT LEGS WILL BE WORN CLOSED AT ALL TIMES.
Wear of ACU Headgear
The black beret and other distinctive berets (maroon, tan, green) will be worn in garrison environments unless directed otherwise by the commander. This includes senior and junior ROTC instructors, SMP Cadets, BCT soldiers, and split-option soldiers. Upon return to a BCT environment, split-option soldiers will return to wearing the ACU patrol cap. Soldiers who have not been issued the black beret, or who do not wear the black beret will wear the ACU Patrol Cap instead.
The ACU Patrol Cap is worn with the ACU in field environments and when the Kevlar helmet is not worn, on work details, or when the wear of the beret is impractical as determined by the commander. Soldiers will wear the ACU Patrol Cap straight on the head so that the cap band creates a straight line around the head, parallel to the ground. The Patrol Cap will fit snugly and comfortably around the largest part of the head without distortion or excessive gaps. The cap is worn so that no hair is visible on the forehead beneath the cap. Sewn or pin on rank is worn on the ACU Patrol Cap. The last name will be centered on the back of the cap with Velcro fasteners to the Velcro panel that is pre-sewn onto the cap.
The ACU Sun (Boonie) Hat will be worn in field environments when the Kevlar helmet is not worn, or the commander determines it is appropriate to wear. The ACU Sun Hat is typically worn on work details or combat environments where the Kevlar helmet is impractical, as determined by the commander. Sew on and pin on rank are both authorized for wear on the ACU Sun Hat.. The draw string on the ACU Sun Hat can be worn under the chin, around the back of the head and neck, or tucked into the top of the hat. The ACU Sun Hat will not be worn rolled, formed, shaped, blocked, or with an upturned brim.
The Micro Fleece Black Cap is worn with the ACU in field environments when the Kevlar helmet is not worn, on work details, or in other environments where the wear of the beret is impractical, as determined by the commander. The Black Fleece Cap will be pulled down snugly on the head. Soldiers will not roll the edge of the cap.
Wear of Desert / Optional Boots
Black boots are NOT authorized for wear with the ACU
Army Combat Boots – (Hot Weather and temperate weather) made of tan rough side out cattle hide leather with a plain toe and tan rubber outsoles. The boots are laced diagonally with tan laces, with the excess lace tucked into the top of the boot under the bloused trousers, or wrapped around the top side of the boot. Metal cleats and side tabs or sewn in or laced in zippers are not authorized. Only boots with tan rubber outsoles are authorized for wear.
Soldiers may wear commercial boots of a design similar to that of the Army Combat Boot (tan), 8 to 10 inches in height as authorized by the commander. The boots must be made of tan rough side out cattle hide leather, with a plain toe, and have a tan, rubber outsole. Soldiers may wear optional boots, however, these optional boots do not replace issue desert boots as a mandatory clothing item (OCIE). Optional boots are not authorized for wear in organizations that require special footwear for safety or environmental reasons (such as steel toe boots).
Where Can I buy the ACU?
Military Clothing Sales (AAFES PX, or www.aafes.com) –available Jan 06
US Patriot Store, www.uspatriotstore.com
Streichers Gear, www.streichers.com
US CAV, www.uscav.com
Military Clothing.com, www.militaryclothing.com (ACU Nametapes / IFF tabs and patches)
Ranger Joe’s, www.rangerjoes.com
How much do the ACU’s Cost?
AAFES will be selling the ACU for 88.00 a set, or 44.00 per coat / trousers.
Commercially, you can buy the official ACU uniform between 46.00 and 49.00
The ACU Patrol Cap typically sells anywhere for 10-13.00
What is the difference between the ACU’s I buy Commercially, and the ACU’s I might get issued or, the ACU’s I buy from AAFES?
There is only 1 difference. The IFF, 1” x 1” squares found on the shoulder flap pockets is not sewn on. You can buy Velcro on IFF squares from any website listed before for about 5 dollars per set. You can then transition these squares between uniforms. Many soldiers are complaining that their IFF tabs melt off in hot conditions – such as placing ACU’s in a dryer on the “High Heat” setting. This is the only difference, which is easily correctible by Velcro IFF tabs. These uniforms are still authorized.
How do I spot an inferior (knock-off) uniform?
If buying ACU’s online, make sure your ACU’s are coming from an official manufacturer.
ACU’s are made 50% nylon, 50% cotton. All other blends are not official issue.
So, if I were to buy ACU’s online, how much would it cost for the first set?
Remember, your first set will be the most expensive. It will include insignia, name tapes, boots, and headgear. Here is a breakdown of the cost of a typical first set of ACU’s:
IFF Flag/Full Color Flag—23.00
How Much Will additional ACU Set’s Cost?
Remember, you transfer over all your rank, insignia, and attachments by Velcro or pin on, which reduces the cost of sewing multiple items on multiple uniforms
Why is the Uniform So Expensive? Does this make sense?
No cost of sewing – ever again
No cost for dry cleaning or ironing/ starching (none are authorized)
Altering uniforms is not authorized, so there is no need to sew pockets on the sleeve while in theatre of operations (combat situations)
Recommended Items to be Worn with the ACU
Blackhawk CQB/Riggers Belt
Estimated cost: 30.00
(authorized and available in Tan or Black)
Oakley SI Desert Assault Boots
Estimated Cost: 90-125.00
Belleville 390 DES Boots
Estimated Cost: 99.00
(This IS an issue item)
Belleville Temperate (Gore-Tex) Boot
Estimated Cost: 125.50
(This IS an issue item)
Altama Desert Ripple Sole Boot
Estimated Cost: 95.00
Desert Boot Care Kit
Estimated Cost: 8.00
Oklahoma ARNG Specifics. . .
Although all subdued (OD Green) patches are authorized for wear on the ACU, a new color to replace OD Green has been implemented. It is called “Foliage” green. To buy Foliage Green patches online, visit this website:
ACU Pattern Phase In
Remember, the ACU Pattern will replace all existing patterns by some time TBD (est. 2007). Do not waste your money buying gear that is not ACU pattern. Three companies in particular that are now selling ACU pattern gear are:
Spec OPS Brand Tactical Nylon
(Many other companies will soon follow)
End of Presentation