WASHINGTON – The Army revealed on Monday a redesigned combat uniform with a digital camouflage pattern that looks strikingly different from soldiers' current battle dress uniforms.
It marks the first major change in the Army uniform since 1981, said Brig. Gen. James R. Moran, who modeled the uniform for reporters at the Pentagon. He said recruits will be issued the redesigned uniform starting October 2005, and the entire Army will be outfitted by December 2007.
The uniform is being produced in a single, universal pattern to replace the two camouflage versions in current use: tan-brown for desert use and green-brown-black for woodland settings.
The pattern for the new camouflage coat and trousers is a mix of light green, tan and gray. Moran said it was designed to allow soldiers to blend into urban, desert and forest environments; it is similar to the Marines' (search) digital camouflage uniform except that it has no black in the pattern.
Soldiers also will get a new, no-shine, tan combat boot, and the current black boots will be discontinued.
The new uniform makes more use of Velcro (search), and the coat fastens in front with a zipper instead of buttons. Cuffs and pockets are fastened with Velcro, and the coat collar can be turned up and fastened Mandarin-style. The uniform is roomier and made with a no-wrinkle fabric.
The coat-trousers combination costs $88, compared with $56 for the current battle dress uniform.
The new uniform was designed in part to accommodate the new Interceptor body armor that soldiers are getting in Iraq (search) and Afghanistan (search) for partial protection from bullets as large as 7.62mm. The Mandarin-style collar, for example, shields the neck from the Interceptor vest collar.
Moran said the Army will offer soldiers extra protection with add-on armor for the underarm area, which is not covered with protective plates in Interceptor vests. The deltoid protection will increase the weight of the armor vests from 16 pounds to 22 pounds.
About 50,000 sets of deltoid protection are to be available by the end of September.
Moran said the Army is looking for ways to protect soldiers better who risk death or injury from homemade bombs in Iraq, the weapons of choice for anti-U.S. insurgents.
"We have a clever enemy, an adaptable enemy," he said.