Army Gets Sweet New Combat Threads



PEO Soldier has now begun to outfit its troops with a sleek new "combat shirt" that is comfortable under body armor and also has flash-resistent properties to stave off the severe burns that can result from roadside bombs.

It looks pretty cool, and I know from interviews with PEO Soldier officials that they put a lot of thought into this new uniform item. I gotta say, one thing that's been a result of continued combat operations with such an adaptable enemy is the near-constant refining of services' gear. The Soldier of today looks pretty darn different from the Soldier of Kosovo days - or even from those of the kick off of OIF.

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The flame-resistant ACS is in development for use under body armor. It is designed to replace two layers, the Army Combat Uniform jacket and moisture-wicking T-shirt, thus reducing bulk and heat stress.

"As providers of the world's best equipment to the world's best Soldiers, we collect and rely on Soldiers' input and ideas to constantly improve all of our products," said Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown, Program Executive Officer Soldier. "All of our clothing and equipment is battle-proven and live-fire tested. Those labels can't be earned in a laboratory."

The ACS features a mock-turtleneck, long sleeves in the universal camouflage pattern, flat seams that reduce bulk and chafing and built-in anti-abrasion elbow pads. The shirt is moisture-wicking, anti-microbial and odor-resistant.

The latest version of the shirt includes upgrades based on Soldier feedback collected since the shirt was first distributed in the spring for limited-user evaluations.

"Even though we developed the Army Combat Shirt to be lighter, more comfortable and breathable, we listened to Soldiers who tested it and said they wanted it to be even more breathable and comfortable," said Maj. Clay Williamson, assistant product manager for clothing and individual equipment. "The fabric that made up the torso of the ACS was replaced with a fabric that provides breathability that is off the charts."

However, to retain modesty, the original fabric was maintained in the mid-chest area. Both fabrics have a four-way stretch.

Another change that increased breathability was replacing the elastic cuffs designed to keep out sand with adjustable cuffs similar to ACU jacket cuffs. The cuffs can be loosened for ventilation or tightened to keep out sand and other debris. Changes were also made to the neck band.

Although the ACS was designed to be worn under the Interceptor Body Armor, test participants noted the short breaks between patrols made it impractical to change into the ACU jacket. They wanted changes to the ACS that would identify them and their unit. In response, hook and loop tape was added to the right sleeve to accommodate a name tape, rank and infrared flag. The left sleeve also sports hook and loop tape for a unit patch.

The ACS with the most recent improvements will be available in late September for follow-on user evaluations. The shirt is still a developmental garment, and further fielding will be determined by the Department of the Army.

-- Christian

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