The Army plans to begin issuing its newly announced Army Greens to new soldiers beginning in summer 2020, the service's senior enlisted leader said Monday.
Army Secretary Mark Esper approved the Nov. 11 adoption of the much-discussed Army Greens, which all soldiers must wear by 2028. The new uniform, recently renamed by service brass, is a version of the iconic pinks-and-greens uniform Army officers wore during World War II.
"This uniform is still in the minds of many Americans. This nation came together during World War II and fought and won a great war," Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey said in a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon. "That's what the secretary and [Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley] wanted to do, is capitalize on the greatest generation because there is another great generation that is serving today, and that is the soldiers serving in the United States Army."
Soldiers currently serving in the active duty, National Guard and Reserves will be able to purchase the new uniform in summer 2020, but they do not have to buy it until 2028, Army officials have said. The current blue Army Service Uniform (ASU) will become the service's optional dress uniform.
"I know it seems like a long time," Dailey said, explaining that the extended phase-in period is designed to give enlisted soldiers time to save up their annual clothing allowance to pay for the new uniform. "We've got to give the soldier ample time to be paid for those uniform items prior to it being required for them to wear it."
He said it would be "premature" to release the estimated cost of the new uniform.
"We have an estimated cost," he said. "We are not done with any contracting at this point, so it would be premature to give you any of those costs. What we do know is that, because of the measures we are taking, it is going to be cost neutral to the taxpayer and the soldier in the long run."
Dailey justified the cost of the new, more-expensive Army Greens uniform by saying it will last longer than the current-issue ASU.
"The estimated cost of the new [Army] Greens uniform is higher than that of the current service blue uniform ... because it is a higher-quality uniform," he said. "We could easily make it the same cost, but that's not the intent here. The intent here is to increase the quality of the uniform, and that is why we extended the life of the uniform."
The new Greens jacket will be made of a 55-percent/45-percent "poly-wool elastique." The pants will feature a gabardine weave made of a 55/45 poly-wool combination as well. The shirt will be made of a 75-percent/25-percent cotton-poly blend, said Army officials, explaining that service life of the Army Greens is six years compared to the ASU's four years.
"We went for a higher-quality fabric. The uniform costs more as a result ... but we intended to do that because one of the chief of staff of the Army's directives to us was build a higher-quality uniform, which inherently costs more," Dailey said. "And the way you offset that is you capitalize on the life of that uniform based upon its higher quality."
Despite the recent adoption announcement, the Army Greens design is not yet finalized.
"There were some design changes all the way up until the week before the secretary made the decision," Dailey said.
The uniform prototype Dailey wore recently at the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting in October featured a jacket belt with a gold buckle, he said, adding that the final design will be more subdued.
"The chief of staff has made a slight change on the length of the collar on the male jacket," Dailey said. "From a design perspective, it's the right decision the chief made."
The jacket buttons will also feature an antique finish instead of a brass color, Army officials said.
"The next set of photographs we want to get out to the media, we want them to be accurate" to show the final design, Dailey said.
Before the Army starts issuing the redesigned uniform to the force, the service intends to field 200 sets of Army Greens for a final evaluation.
"We are in the process of being able to produce about 200 uniforms that we want to issue out to designated forward-facing units ... and when I say 'forward-facing units,' I'm really talking recruiters," said Col. Stephen Thomas, head of Project Manager Soldier Protection & Individual Equipment. "Then, what we will do is get feedback from those soldiers on how to better refine the uniform so that when we go to final production ... we have a comprehensive uniform design that soldiers like."
Officials from Program Executive Office Soldier said the process should be complete by next summer.
"This is a great day to be a solder," Dailey said. "As I go around and have talked to soldiers in the last few days ... they are very excited about it, and the overwhelming majority are just truly excited about the new uniform."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.