Pentagon prepares for another uniform change

Tuesday - 6/21/2011, 7:47am EDT

WFED's Jared Serbu

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By Courtney Thompson
Federal News Radio

Army soldiers assigned to the Pentagon will switch to a more professional uniform in October.

Soldiers will don the more formal Army Service Uniform, which leaders said is more suitable for the corporate work environment, as opposed to the current Army Combat Uniform (ACU).

The ACU also has undergone recent changes. The Army last week announced it was swapping out the black beret for a more traditional cap, and soldiers will have the option to sew on name tapes, insignia and badges to their uniforms rather than using Velcro.

ACUs initially became the standard uniform for soldiers assigned to the Pentagon to serve as a continuous reminder that the U.S. was at war following the 9/11 attacks.

"After seven years or so, I think everybody understands completely that we are at war, that soldiers still are dying and being wounded and that families are suffering…the uniforms I don't think necessarily have to remind us of the fact that we are all at war," said Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler during a conference call with reporters on Monday. "Most soldiers that I've talked to have been fine with [the change]."

Chandler added the Army is providing soldiers at the Pentagon with a supplement to their standard uniform allowances that will provide for an additional pair of slacks and more shirts. Most soldiers who do not wear the more formal uniform on a daily basis generally have only one pair of slacks and two shirts, he said.

Additionally, the Army is conducting further research on ways to improve and reduce the cost of the three versions of the Army Combat Uniform. Specifically, Chandler said that the Army is considering changing the organizational clothing and individual equipment (OCIE), which he said is the most expensive part of the combat uniform. He said the cost for the service is in the billions of dollars. He added that changes in the physical fitness uniform also may be in the offing, as soldiers have reported chaffing from the liner of the trunks, as well as concerns about modesty and coverage.

"We are really focused on trying to work with industry as we move forward in this to see if there are some technologies or other things we haven't considered as an Army," Chandler said.

Related Stories:

Bye-bye beret: Army Combat Uniform changes

Soldiers e-vote down berets

Army ditches black berets in favor of caps

Courtney Thompson is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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