The influence of military fatigues has long been co-opted by fashion designers–who doesn’t own a pair of camo shorts or a green military shirt? Now the Army is taking cues from their fashion counterparts.
The US Army is finally getting with the times and is for the first time ever issuing an alternative to the singular Army Combat Uniform (ACU) that was designed ages ago by men for men. As women continue to expand their roles in the US Army, currently making up 15.7% of all Active Army and serving in 95% of all Army occupations, as well as beginning the integration into combat roles, the US Army is heeding the need to make improvements to the status quo.
The plans to update the ACU started back in 2007 with a focus group to make the uniform better for female Soldiers. What was initially considered as being the first female-only uniform, the uniform is now approved for both sexes and is being called ACU-A for Army Combat Uniform-Alternate.
Maj. Sequana Robinson, the assistant product manager assigned to Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment explained, “the new uniform is not a form fitting uniform that was designed to accent the female form, but a uniform that will give female Soldiers a more professional look and added comfort.”
The new ACU-As were created to fit a wider range of body types and both the jacket and trouser are available in 16 sizes. The new uniform trousers feature wider areas at the hips, waist and backside; elastic around the waistband instead of a pull string; adjusted pockets and knee-pad inserts; and a shortened crotch length.?The jacket changes include adjusted rank and nametape positioning; adjusted pockets and elbow-pad inserts; slimmer shoulders; a thinner and more fitted waist; and a longer and wider ACU coat bottom. Also, buttons are replacing the velcro pockets.
One Army Reservist I spoke to said that while “this is the first I'm hearing about it, I think the more comfort the better.” However she did add, “I would rather they field the female body armor as soon as possible. I've never heard women complain about the fit of the ACU, but I have heard lots of complaints about trying to wear body armor designed for a man. My preference would be getting new female body armor and better fitting PT (Physical Training) uniforms first. Either way, I think its great.”
According to the Army.mil website, the Army is also in the process of developing female body armor and a female flight suit. Both are still in development stages.? New black and yellow PT uniforms are also in the development stages.
A manager at the Military Clothing Store at Fort Sam Houston said they are currently taking pre-orders for the new ACU-As however, they did not have a specific date for when they would be available for pick up.