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Army releases message announcing new service uniform

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 21, 2008) -- Out with the old, in with the blue. The Army has made it official; the green service uniform, which has defined the service since the mid-1950s, is on the outs.

In place of the green uniform will be a variation of the blue uniform, something many Soldiers already own. Official word on the new "Army Service Uniform," or ASU, was released Aug. 20 in a message to all Army activities. The message defines the wear policy and the "bridging" strategy for transition to the new uniform.

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"It's a culmination of transformation efforts that started in 2004," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston of the new ASU. "We had three 'Class A' style uniforms, all the same style jacket, with just a different color -- the policies on how we wore accoutrements on them were different. We asked the question -- if we wear one only, which would it be? And the blue uniform was the most popular of the three."

The new ASU coat, similar to the existing blue coat, will be made of a wrinkle-resistant material and will have a more "athletic" cut.

Other changes to the uniform include authorization of a combat service identification badge to recognize combat service, overseas service bars authorized on the jacket sleeve for both enlisted Soldiers and officers, the wear of distinctive unit insignia on the shoulder loops of the blue coat for enlisted Soldiers, authorizing paratroopers to wear the black jump boots with the blue ASU, and the decision to transition to a new short sleeve and long sleeve white shirt with shoulder loops.

It is also permissible for enlisted Soldiers to wear both overseas service bars and service stripes on the new blue ASU coat. Officers and Soldiers in the grade of corporal and above will additionally wear a gold braid on their slacks to indicate leadership roles.

"That is kind of a right of passage as you transition from being a (junior) enlisted soldier to a noncommissioned officer," Preston said of the gold braid.

New items for the ASU will be available in military clothing sales after July 2009.

Soldiers will be expected to possess the entire uniform by July 2014. The two key components of the uniform, the coat and slacks, are expected to cost around $140, with modifications bringing the total cost to $200. Enlisted Soldiers will receive an increase in their annual uniform allowance to help offset the cost of the uniform.

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