Army May Stop Issuing Dress Uniforms to Recruits in Basic Training

With the historic World War II Fort Benning Barracks behind them, U.S. Army soldiers march across Inouye Parade Field for their Initial Entry Training (IET) graduation ceremony, March 17, 2017, at the National infantry Museum. (U.S. Army photo/Patrick Albright)
With the historic World War II Fort Benning Barracks behind them, U.S. Army soldiers march across Inouye Parade Field for their Initial Entry Training (IET) graduation ceremony, March 17, 2017, at the National infantry Museum. (U.S. Army photo/Patrick Albright)

The U.S. Army is considering issuing the new Army Greens uniform to new soldiers when they go to their first unit, instead of following the tradition of issuing the dress uniform at the beginning of Basic Combat Training.

The service intends to begin issuing the Army Greens -- a version of the World War II pinks and greens -- in summer 2020, but it may wait until after Initial Entry Training is over to avoid giving new uniforms to soldiers who don't complete training.

"It boils down to attrition," said Col. Stephen Thomas, head of Project Manager Soldier Protection & Individual Equipment.

Out of the roughly 110,000 recruits who go to basic training, about 104,000 make it to advanced individual training, he said.

"So then, by the time they go from AIT to their first unit, that number drops down to about 94,000," Thomas said. "And so, if you do the math, that's about 16,000 soldiers ... that are dropped and so there is an opportunity to realize a cost savings by issuing the uniform to soldiers when they go to their first unit, as opposed to issuing the uniform at basic training."

Army officials have said the Army Greens will cost more than the current blue Army Service Uniform, or ASU, because it is designed to be higher quality and last six years compared to the ASU's four-year life.

Soldiers who have already completed training will have to buy the Army Greens by 2028, but officials have not released a cost estimate for the new uniform. Once Army Greens become official in 2028, the ASU will become the service's optional dress uniform.

While no decision has been made, issuing the new uniform to soldiers at their first unit would also benefit drill sergeants, according to Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey.

"The only [reason] we issue the dress uniform during basic training is the graduation ceremony at the end," he said. "Logistically, that is very difficult, and we rush to get those soldiers that uniform."

Issuing it later would give more "time to our drill sergeants in order to train rather than just going back for fitting of uniforms back and forth," Dailey said.

New soldiers could graduate in their Operational Camouflage Uniform, or OCP, "which they are already issued and they would get a higher-quality, better-fitting [Army Greens] uniform if they had more time to work individually with a tailor" at their first unit, he added.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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