Some of you might have seen the report on USA Today's front page a couple days ago about the Army abandoning Velcro (aka 'hook and pile') on the thigh pockets of its ACU pants.
The article states that Soldiers complained the Velcro wouldn't hold when the pockets were stuffed to the gills and that the dusty environments of Afghanistan and Iraq made the pile part of the Velcro fail because of dirt and sand infiltration.
We reported on this issue back last fall with news of an Army survey of troops and changes the service was making to the ACU to reflect Joes' preferences -- including the overwhelming need to go back to button closures instead of Velcro on the thigh pockets of the trousers.
Kit Up! received a statement from the Army yesterday contextualizing the USA-T story.
When concerns surfaced in the surveys that the hook-and-pile tape was not holding under the weight of full pocket loads, the Army evaluated several solutions, including buttons and snaps, and provided prototypes to more than 1,500 Soldiers for wear-testing. These prototypes included a variety of other changes to the uniform as well.The Army also made some slight changes to the Velcro on the blouse, including reducing the size of the tape on the closures and collar.
The end result was the Army has reinforced the seat of the trouser, substituted three buttons for hook-and-pile tape on each trouser cargo pocket, and improved the attachment of the infrared tab.
But the biggest change is that the new MultiCam EOF FR-ACUs will have the button closures on the trouser thigh pockets. And these will be the first Army uniforms to incorporate the change. No ACUs have been issued with trouser pocket button closures so far and PEO Soldier says "eventually" buttons will be included on all future ACUs and FR-ACUs. But with the service evaluating whether UCP is still the way to go, could this change be moot for the current ACU?
Another interesting side note is that the Army considered going the button way on the blouse cuffs but decided against it for safety reasons. Officials were concerned that the buttons wouldn't hold during a flame event (maybe the plastic in the buttons would melt?) and not keep the sleeve closed to protect the Soldier's arm from fire.
PEO Soldier is aware of other concerns with the hook-and-pile tape and will take those into consideration in future modifications to the ACU.