Army Service Uniform
The Army Service Uniform (ASU) is a military uniform worn by United States Army personnel in situations where formal dress is called for. It can be worn at most public and official functions, and as an analog for business dress. In combat situations, the Army Combat Uniform is used.
The blue ASU replaced the "Army Green" and "Army White" service uniforms. Originally created in 2008 as a secondary uniform to the former army "class A greens", in the autumn of 2010 it started being issued to all soldiers and now is worn army-wide as the official service uniform. It is based on the older "dress blue" dress uniform. Older antecedents include the uniforms of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and the Union Army's during the American Civil War. Their influence is apparent in the overall blue theme, the officers' passants (shoulder-straps) and trouser design.
On Veterans Day 2018, the Army announced that a new version of the Army Greens, based on the "pinks and greens" uniform worn in World War II, would be brought back as the everyday service uniform starting in 2020. The current Army Blues Uniform will return to being a formal dress uniform. The new service uniform will include khaki pants and brown leather oxfords for both men and women, with women having the option to wear a pencil skirt and pumps instead. There will be a leather bomber jacket as an outerwear option.
Timeline of changes
This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (November 2018)
- 1774: Blue Continental Army coat, with state facing colors, and white waistcoat and breeches or overalls. (Historical Note/Ref: The origin of "blue" as the primary uniform color is earlier during the Colonial period of the Continental Association or First Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia, PA and adjourned on Oct 26, 1774.) George Washington was the appointed Presiding Officer.
While Washington was in Philadelphia, one hundred neighbors in Fairfax County (VA), under the tutelage of George Mason, had organized themselves into a voluntary militia—probably the first in the colony—electing Washington their commander. Borrowing the colors of the English Whig party, the Fairfax Independent Company wore blue uniforms with buff facings and white stockings.
Washington used Thomas Webb’s A Military Treatise on the Appointments of the Army as a guide for outfitting this particular unit. Washington would soon accept the additional field command of another four independent companies: in Prince William, Fauquier, Richmond, and Spotsylvania Counties.
- 1782: Red facings only with branch of service white (infantry) or yellow (artillery) metal buttons.
- 1810: French uniform coat with cut-in skirt fastened in front; sleeved roundabout jacket for fatigue and field service.
- 1813: Uniform coat devoid of buttonhole lace and facing colors.
- 1821: Congressional confirmation of army wear of national blue; practical gray wool pantaloons for the winter mud, a tradition of contrasting shades.
- 1829: Undress frock (full round skirt) coat in place of officer's civilian clothes.
- 1832: Branch of service cap insignia, gold or silver officer grade insignia on epaulettes and sky-blue trousers for all but staff and generals.
- 1835: Shoulder straps, used to hold fringed epaulettes, with undress, officer grade.
- 1851: French frock (full skirt) coat only uniform, trimmed in system of branch of service colors.
- 1854: New waist-length uniform jacket for mounted troops
- 1872: Blouse for garrison and field, uniform coat for dress, with epaulettes for generals.
- 1881: Dark blue flannel overshirt often in place of blouse on field service.
- 1885: Sky-blue kersey trousers, aniline dye richer shade than original vegetable dye.
- 1895: Officer's undress sack coat, with black trim; branch of service insignia and national cypher "U.S." on collar, with national eagle on cap.
- 1902: Olive drab wool and khaki cotton service uniforms introduced; blue retained only for dress, full dress, mess dress, and special evening dress, trimmed with branch of service color. New patterns of blue full dress and dress uniforms adopted for both officers and enlisted men  Leather color changed from black to russet. The M1902 visored cap is adopted.
- 1907 and 1912: Minor changes prescribed for 1902 model blue dress and full dress uniforms.
- 1911: Wool felt M1911 Campaign Hat adopted. Hat cords were in Branch colors for enlisted men, a gold metallic thread and black cord braid for Subaltern and Field Officers, and woven of gold metallic thread for General Officers.
- 1917: Wearing of blue dress, full dress and mess dress uniforms suspended for the duration of the war. Warrant Officers were authorized a hat cord of silver metallic thread and black cord braid for wear with the M1911 Campaign Hat. The side-folding cloth Overseas Cap was unofficially adopted by AEF personnel in a variety of styles influenced by similar Allied patterns.
- 1921: The M1911 Campaign Hat was redesigned.
- 1928: Return of pre-war blue dress uniforms with new visor cap, optional at expense of wearer.
- 1938: Officer's blue roll-collar coat adopted, with branch of service-color trim and dress belt (from full dress coat).
- 1939: The side-folding Overseas Cap is universally adopted as the Garrison Cap.
- 1940: No blue uniform required during emergency (end of saber).
- 1941: The M1911 Campaign Hat is declared Limited Standard.
- 1947: President Harry S. Truman note on lack of dress uniform and return of pre-war pattern; evening dress uniform cuff with single gold lace and insignia of grade.
- 1953: Post-war officer and EM pattern with patch pockets; no traditional branch of service color trim on EM uniform and officers' trousers stripes.
- 1954: Official adoption of the Army green Class "A" uniform.
- 1956: Distinctive uniform for bands and honor guards. Leather color changed from russet to black.
- 1957: Women's army blue uniform same cut as 1951 Taupe-121 uniform.
- 1959: Army blue uniforms for year-round wear.
- 1962: Women's army blue same as army green uniform, with new service hat.
- 1963: Mandatory possession of officer's army blue uniform.
- 1972: Officers' mess jacket cuff ornamentation simplified to resemble that of 1947 evening dress (grade insignia replaced branch insignia; single strand of gold lace replaced multiple ones which previously showed grade).
- 2008: the new blue army service uniform (ASU) is introduced for optional wear by soldiers.
- 2010: blue ASU issued to all soldiers, beginning in autumn.
- 2015: Army green Class "A" uniform officially retired; blue ASU worn army-wide after October 1.
- 2020: New "Army Greens" service uniform will be issued to soldiers reporting to their first units.
- 2028: All soldiers will be required to have the new "Army Greens" uniform for wear.
In the early days of the U.S. Army, the uniform worn in combat was essentially the same as that worn for everyday duties. This was the common practice with most armies of the time. This changed in modern times, as field uniforms were developed which were more suited for battle.
During the Civil War era, army uniforms were relatively simple. Typically, the same uniform served as a garrison uniform and as a combat uniform. Combat soldiers in the Civil War wore a standard dark blue coat, just like personnel in garrisons or in army offices and headquarters. In the first half of the war, many states supplied their regiments with uniforms, resulting in distinctive jackets and buttons. Rank was indicated by a shoulder strap for officers, and chevrons on the sleeves for non-commissioned officers. Branch or specialty could be indicated by the color of the enlisted badge of rank, or the background color for officers' shoulder straps. Uniform standards were relaxed during the war years, especially on campaign, and men often wore a variety of hats in the field.
The 1899 Army Uniform Regulations provided for a cotton khaki uniform for field service, drawing on the experience of the Spanish–American War when both blue and drab clothing had been worn. From 1902 to 1917, the army had two uniforms: a service uniform of wool olive drab Melton cloth for use by soldiers in the field, and a blue dress uniform used for ceremonies and off-post wear by enlisted men.
Lieutenant General Edmund B. Gregory, the Quartermaster General, looking back in 1946, pointed out that World War I uniforms had subtly changed from a comfortable loose-fitting four pocket field garment to a tight-fitting version suitable only for garrison wear. At the outbreak of World War II, the army had to develop new loose-fitting patterns which the men could live in, as well as muster on the parade ground. Gregory noted that this gradual change to a tight-fitting uniform in peacetime has been characteristic of the history of uniforms in all armies.
Around 1940, soldiers began to use special uniforms designed for combat or field operations, with numerous special equipment and packs. The M-1941 Field Jacket was one of the first clothing items which was approved specifically for use in the field, and which was not meant to be part of a standard service uniform.
After this, service uniforms started to become more elaborate, as they were not needed to be useful in combat, and could take on a unique appearance, with new features and embellishments. Units began to display their own special patches, and badges were added for various specialties.
Among the earliest unit patches was for the 81st Infantry Division. This unit trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. They created patches showing a wildcat, so that they could identify each other quickly in combat. Some officers questioned this, but General John Pershing decided it was a good idea, so the army started to implement it for all units.
The Army currently uses the blue Army Service Uniform. According to Army Regulation 670-1: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, the Army Service Uniform seeks to combine dress and Service uniforms through wear stipulations. The ASU was announced in 2006 by then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker, and serves as the Army's dress, garrison, and ceremonial uniform. The blue ASU made its "debut" at the 2007 State of the Union Address, when General Schoomaker wore his blue uniform.
The ASU used the preexisting "army blue" uniform as a model. In terms of color the ASU resembles the campaign uniforms worn by soldiers during the Mexican–American War, American Civil War, Indian Wars, and the Spanish–American War prior to the introduction of khaki uniforms in the 1890s and olive drab uniforms in 1902, relegating the blue uniform to use as dress uniform. Dress uniforms of dark-blue tunics and light-blue trousers were worn by all ranks until 1917 and reintroduced in a modernized form (with open collar and tie) for officers and warrant officers in 1937.
Since 2010, enlisted soldiers have received the blue service uniform as part of their basic clothing bag issue when they enter the army during initial training. The Army further provides active-duty enlisted soldiers an annual clothing allowance to maintain their basic clothing bag issue items. The Army included a series of stipends in this annual clothing allowance to replace the green service uniform for already-serving soldiers. Commissioned officers are given a one-time stipend when commissioned to purchase their required uniform items. The Army requires officers to purchase and maintain only the blue service uniform. Possession and use of the blue ASU has been mandatory for all soldiers since October 1, 2015, when the green Class A was retired.
The ASU includes a midnight blue coat worn with lighter blue low waist trousers for male soldiers and a midnight blue coat worn with either lighter blue slacks or midnight blue skirt for female soldiers. The trousers/slacks for non-commissioned and commissioned officers Include a stripe of gold braid on the outer side of the leg. Generals wear midnight blue trousers/slacks with gold braid instead of the lighter blue used in lower ranks. The fabric for the ASU consists of 55% wool and 45% polyester material. The ASU is worn with short- or long-sleeved white shirts with permanent military creases and shoulder loops. Compared to the Army's previous uniforms, the blue ASU does not include a garrison cap; soldiers continue to wear the Army's berets.
The dress blue ASU configuration for males includes the blue coat and trousers and a long-sleeved white shirt with black tie. The dress blue ASU for females includes the blue coat, skirt, and a long-sleeved white shirt with black neck tab. Females in army bands, honor guards, and female chaplains are authorized to wear army blue slacks in the performance of their duties. The black beret and service cap are authorized for wear with this uniform. Combat boots and organizational items, such as brassards, military police accessories and distinctive unit insignia are not worn. When the dress blue ASU is worn for social events in the evening (i.e. after retreat), men may wear a black bow tie rather than a black four-in-hand necktie, and commanders may direct that headwear is not required.
The class "A" ASU configuration includes the blue coat and trousers/slacks/skirt, a short or long sleeved white shirt and four-in-hand necktie (male)/neck tab (female). Ribbons instead of medals are worn to indicate awards. Soldiers in select units are allowed to wear black combat boots with bloused trouser legs instead of low-quarter shoes.
The class "B" ASU configuration includes the blue trousers/skirt/slacks, a short or long sleeve white shirt, omitting the coat of the class "A". Soldiers wear the black necktie with the long sleeve white shirt when it is worn.
- The ASU consists of the following items:
- Coat, blue shade 450
- Trousers, blue shade 451, low waist with belt loops (male soldiers)
- Slacks, blue shade 451, Los waist (female soldiers)
- Skirt, blue shade 450 (female soldiers)
- Belt and buckle
- Black combat boots (optional for wear with class "A" and class "B" uniforms for soldiers authorized to wear the tan, green, or maroon berets, those assigned to air assault coded positions, and military police soldiers performing MP duties.)
- Black bow tie (worn after retreat)
- Black cape (officer only)
- Blue cape (officer only)
- Chaplain's apparel
- Gold cuff links and studs
- Black all-weather coat
- Black leather dress gloves (worn with black all weather coat or black wind breaker)
- White dress gloves
- Black handbag
- Black shoulder bag
- Black clutch
- Drill sergeant hat (authorized for wear with class "A" and class "B" uniforms)
- Judge's apparel
- Military police accessories (not authorized with the formal class "A" ASU)
- Black necktie (worn on duty)
- Neck tabs
- Black scarf (only with black all weather coat or black windbreaker)
- White long-sleeve shirt
- White short-sleeve shirt
- Black shoes
- Black pumps
- Black cushioned socks (worn with boots only)
- Black dress socks (worn with trousers/slacks)
- Sheer stockings
- Black pullover sweater
- Black unisex Cardigan
- White undershirt
- Black umbrella (female soldiers may carry and use an umbrella, only during inclement weather, when wearing the dress blue ASU. Umbrellas are not authorized in formations or when wearing field or utility uniforms)
- Black windbreaker (only with class "B" uniform)
Insignia, awards, badges and accoutrements
- Service aiguillettes (officers only) (not authorized on the class "B" ASU)
- Airborne background trimming
- Branch of service scarf (not authorized on the enlisted formal class "A" service uniform)
- Branch insignia (not authorized on the class "B" ASU)
- Brassards (not authorized on the dress blue ASU)
- Combat service identification badge (CSIB). Worn when available in place of the Green uniforms shoulder sleeve insignia. The CSIB will be worn centered on the wearer's right breast pocket of the ASU coat for male soldiers; female soldiers wear the CSIB on the right side parallel to the waistline on the ASU coat. The CSIB is ranked fifth in order of precedence below the Presidential, Vice-Presidential, Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badges. The CSIB can also be worn on the shirt when wearing the class "B" versions of the ASU
- Decorations and ribbons
- Distinctive items authorized for infantrymen
- Distinctive unit insignia (enlisted only) (authorized for wear on the class "A" and class "B" uniforms only)
- Foreign badges
- Fourragere lanyards
- Gold Star lapel pin
- Headgear insignia
- Rank insignia
- Officer candidate and warrant officer candidate insignia.
- Organizational flash
- Overseas service bars (optional)
- Distinctive regimental insignia (optional)
- Service stripes (enlisted personnel only)
- Unit awards
- U.S. badges (identification, marksmanship, combat and special skill)
- U.S. Insignia (not authorized on the class "B" ASU)
- Black, brown, maroon, tan, or green beret. (Compared to the former green uniform, a garrison cap is no longer issued.)
- Service cap (male/female; corporals and above)
- Stetson (U.S. Cavalry)
- On the new ASU, service stripes are authorized for wear on the left sleeve for enlisted soldiers and Overseas Service Bars on the right sleeve for both officers and enlisted soldiers. The service stripes and Overseas Service Bars are similar in size to the ones previously worn on the army green uniform, but are gold in color and trimmed in blue to match the ASU.
- "U.S. Army to roll out new Army Greens uniform". www.army.mil. U.S. Army. November 11, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- Garland, Chad (November 11, 2018). "What's old is new: Army rolls out 'pinks and greens' service uniform". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- Myers, Meghann (November 11, 2018). "It's official: Army approves 'pinks and greens' uniform on Veterans Day". Army Times. Sightline Media Group. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- Chernow, Ron (5 October 2010). Washington: A Life. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-59420-266-7. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- Chernow, p.174
- Randy Steffen. The Horse Soldier, Vol. 3, page 95. ISBN 0-8061-2394-X.
- Jacques Noel Jacobsen, Sections 29 and 30, "Regulations and Notes for the Uniform of the Army of the United States 1902
- Jacques Noel Jacobsen, Parts I & II, "Regulations and Notes for the Uniform of the Army of the United States 1912
- Randy Steffen. The Horse Soldier, Vol. 4, page 66. UE443.S83.
- AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of the Army Uniform Insignia
- Philip Haythornthwaite, plates 1-33, Uniforms of the Civil War, ISBN 0-02-549200-4
- Randy Steffen, page 69 Volume III, "The Horse Soldier 1776-1943"
- The Army Dressed Up Archived 2008-04-17 at the Wayback Machine., 1952, Dr. Stephen J. Kennedy, The Quartermaster Review, January/February 1952, Army Clothing History page, Army Quartermaster Foundation, Inc. Website, accessed 4-9-08.
- Hwang, Tiffany US Army Field Jacket Development in Response to Material Shortages and the Exigencies of World War II in Momentum Vol 1 Issue 1 Article 3 18 April 2012
- Pride important for US soldiers Archived December 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., by Lee Berry, Univ. of Mississippi.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
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ALARACT202was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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- Army service uniform website
- Army page
- Army Clothing History articles from the Quartermaster Foundation