In the first week of the July 1 rollout, soldiers have been standing in long lines to buy the Army's new camouflage uniforms in record numbers, according to Army Air Force Exchange Service officials.
Army Combat Uniforms in the new Operational Camouflage Pattern are now available at Military Clothing Sales stores at 20 locations and "demand has been exceptionally high, with the exchange reporting first-day sales in excess of $1.4 million," according to Debra Dawson, spokeswoman for the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier.
The Mini Mall at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, sold $300,000 worth of the new camouflage uniforms on July 1, according to store manager Dave Dingwell.
"It has been a great turnout," Dingwell said, adding that most soldiers at Bragg have been buying the ACU coat, trousers and patrol cap since they know they can wear the current T-shirt, belt and boots until 2019.
The Military Clothing Sales store at Fort Benning, Georgia, sold $85,000 worth of the new OCP uniforms on the first day, according to store manager Donita Nobles.
"The customers are really excited about being able to buy the uniforms," she said.
Soldiers at Benning are mostly buying the coat, trousers, patrol cap, and the T-shirt and belt in the new Tan 499 color, Nobles said. The store does not currently have the new coyote brown boots.
More Expensive ACUs
The new ACUs are a little more expensive than the current ACUs in the Universal Camouflage Pattern. Uniform items in the new camouflage cost $46.73 for the coat, $46.07 for the trousers and $8.10 for the patrol cap, according to Fort Bragg store officials.
Uniform items in the current UCP cost $41.86 for the coat, $42.43 for the trousers and $7.41 for the patrol cap.
In addition to Bragg and Benning, the new camouflage uniforms are available at stores at other installations such as Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Drum, New York; Fort Carson, Colorado; and South Korea.
Beginning in August, the new ACUs will be available at 28 more installations including Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Knox, Kentucky; as well as stores in the Washington, D.C., area such as the Pentagon.
Beginning in October, the new ACUs will become available at 63 installations such as Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Lee, Virginia; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
The goal is to have every soldier outfitted with OCP camouflage uniforms by Oct. 1, 2019.
Army senior leaders selected OCP after the service completed its exhaustive Phase IV camouflage effort in 2013.
The service launched the effort in 2009 to find a replacement for the current Universal Camouflage Pattern, a pixilated pattern known for its poor performance in Afghanistan. It involved years of testing multiple patterns in a variety of operational environments.
In addition to a new pattern, the new OCP ACUs will feature several upgraded features based on soldier feedback, according to Army officials. Some of the improvements include a zipper closure to replace the hook and loop flap closure on the shoulder pockets. The collar will be more of a fold-down design and no longer have the hook and loop collar extension. Internal elbow pad and knee pad pockets have been removed, but the reinforcement will stay.
The OCP ACUs will also feature a new Tan 499 T-shirt and belt, as well as coyote brown boots. But during the transition, soldiers can wear the current sand color T-shirt, belt and boots, Army officials maintain.
The Army plans to produce all equipment items such as body armor, packs and pouches in OCP, but until that happens, soldiers will use existing stocks of UCP-patterned equipment in training scenarios, Army officials say. They will also be authorized to use equipment printed in the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern.
Soldiers who deploy on real-world missions, however, will receive uniforms and equipment printed in OCP, according to Army officials.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at Matthew.Cox@military.com.