The Army Combat Uniform
As the Army once again transitions to a new uniform, there is going to be confusion regarding the proper terms (usually the acronyms) describing the cut of uniform or its pattern. While the Army is not officially changing the cut of its uniform, it has made multiple changes to the cut itself over the years, across three patterns. The cut of the uniform, for those who do not know, is the configuration or style of the uniform itself and does not refer to the pattern. And today, we are exploring the Army Combat Uniform and some of the forms it has taken.
The Army Combat Uniform was first unveiled in 2004 in the then-groundbreaking Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). It had all sorts of velcro, zippers, and even an elastic cord to secure the leg pockets. Most unusual was the mandarin collar, meant to be worn up and fastened around the neck when wearing the OTV and IOTV vests. They were hot, scratchy, and putting it in SFW terms, insanely uncomfortable wearing it for long periods of time.
After many complaints received from soldiers in the field, the Army developed the MultiCam ACU in a joint venture with Crye Precision. Not only did this make the ACU even more high speed than it already was, it incorporated changes that made sense! A rarity for any branch of service. Changes included more durable waist adjustments less prone to fraying, the replacement of velcro with buttons on the trousers, and shifting the infrared tab to the flap that before, only covered it. This allowed the flap to be folded into the pocket, leaving the panel for everybody’s favorite flag uncluttered.
Now currently, the Army is in the process of replacing UCP and the leftover MultiCam ACUs with the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP). Further changes to the uniform are: Wider and more durable belt loops, more buttons, and the removal of a few other features that have been present for years. They dropped the waist adjustment, knee pad pockets and my beloved elastic cord on the leg pocket. Now unfortunately, because I sold all my tops to airsofters way cooler and more high speed than me, I have provided a stock photo. But changes to the top include a normal collar and shoulder pockets tilted rearward. These new pockets have zippers on the front facing side instead of flaps, this allows for an uninterrupted velcro panel for Cavs absolutely gigantic patches.
Overall, I enjoy the new uniform. It looks far cleaner and less like a Chinesium knockoff uniform made for a shitty action movie. Hopefully you learned a thing or two, because I could not, and still cannot stand hearing NCOs refer to UCP (the pattern) as the ACU (the cut of uniform).