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BDU - Battle Dress Uniforms

These uniforms are issued as utility, field, training, or combat uniforms and are not intended to be worn as all-purpose uniforms when other uniforms are more appropriate. BDUs may only be worn on duty when prescribed by the commander. BDUs are authorized to be worn off post unless restricted by commanders. They are not for travel, nor for wearing off military installations except in transit between the individual's quarters and duty station. BDUs are not authorized for air travel except when soldiers are deploying as part of a unit move and the mode of transportation is for the exclusive use of the military. BDUs are not authorized for wear in establishments that primarily sell alcohol.

The Class C (Battle Dress) uniforms, are an authorized duty uniform and may only be worn when prescribed by the local commander. These uniforms are mission oriented uniforms and are not intended to be worn as all purpose uniforms. These uniforms are designed to be loose fitting; alterations to make it form fitting are not authorized. A tight fit reduces the air flow needed for ventilation and cooling. The coat will be worn outside the trousers and the trousers worn with a belt. The trousers will be worn bloused using the integral draw cords or blousing bands if trousers are not tucked into the boots. Trouser legs will not be wrapped around the legs so tightly as to present a "pegged" appearance. The local commander may require these uniforms to be pressed for those special ceremonial occasions when appearance should be especially sharp such as parades, reviews, inspections, or other ceremonial occasions. Only black leather boots may be worn with this uniform. Organizational equipment such as web equipment belts, canteens, suspenders, etc. will only be worn at the direction of the local commander and unless ordered otherwise by the local commander, will be worn by all personnel or none. MP duty equipment, if authorized for wear by the local commander, will only be worn while on MP duty and will be universally worn. When the sleeves are rolled up, the camouflage pattern will remain exposed. The sleeves will be rolled neatly above the elbow but not more than three inches above the elbow. The hot weather and temperate uniforms will not be intermixed. The commander may authorize wear of the uniform without the coat in temporary conditions caused by heavy exercise, labor, or climatic conditions.

The Army style BDU patrol cap is the basic headgear for this uniform. The Marine Corps style "peaked" cap in woodland camouflage is not authorized for wear at any time. The BDU patrol cap will be worn straight on the head so that the cap band creates a straight line around the head parallel to the ground. The cap will be worn so that no hair is visible on the forehead. The earflaps may be worn down at the discretion of the wearer during cold weather except in formation, when the commander may prescribe wear policy. The cap will not be blocked or rolled. Authorization to wear organizational berets with the BDU uniform is suspended until further notice. Commissioned and warrant officers will wear bright insignia of grade on the BDU patrol cap. Chaplains will wear insignia of branch in the same manner. Enlisted personnel will wear subdued insignia of grade on the BDU cap.

When a specific uniform is not prescribed, soldiers may wear either the hot weather material or the temperate material BDU uniform. Soldiers may wear the black leather shell gloves with utility uniforms without cold weather outer garments provided the sleeves are rolled down and are over the tops of the gloves (this does not restrict the wear of gloves at any time when required for personal protection). The woodland camouflage cold weather coat may be worn with all utility uniforms. The black all weather coat may be worn as a raincoat with these uniforms but the wear of woodland camouflage raingear is preferred. The olive green scarf and black leather shell gloves may be worn but are not required when the cold weather coat or other authorized cold weather outer garments are worn. Coats will be worn zipped and buttoned. The shirt collar will be worn inside outer garments. The hood of the camouflage cold weather coat may be worn at the wearer's option. However, when the hood is not worn, it will be tucked into the jacket and zipper zipped. Female personnel may carry handbags with these uniforms only while in a garrison environment and not while on MP duty.

The "green sateen" uniform developed and procured by the Army was designated a universal issue uniform to be worn by all services. In 1968 the green sateen utilities were replaced in Vietnam by the Army green poplin jungle uniform. Subsequently, personnel in Vietnam wore the camouflage pattern rip-stop poplin jungle utilities. These were phased into the recruit issue in 1978, and were later replaced beginning in 1982 by the current woodland camouflage utility uniform.

There are camouflage patterns for just about everything: regular 3-color green BDU (USA and USMC issue); desert 3-color BDU; 6-color desert (AKA "chocolate chip"). General patterns -- like the USA green BDU -- are a compromise to try to give some reduced detection in as many scenarios as possible. Specific patterns, like tree bark, work very well in very specific locations, but not as well generally. The camouflage pattern most familiar as Tiger Stripe was developed for US Special Forces during the Vietnam era (circa 1965) for jungle fighting. It is an adaptation of an earlier British design developed during the Malyasian confict in the 1950's. It is for ultra-close range (50 yards or less) fighting in heavily foliated jungle.

SSCOM's Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center (NRDEC) has developed a reversible camouflage fabric with a 4-color woodland pattern on one side and a 3-color desert pattern on the reverse side. Future potential pattern combinations for camouflage printing include urban/desert and urban/woodland.

Brightness difference with the background (contrast) is the initial detection cue to the human eye. Light colored camouflage blends well in rocky, sandy areas, or in dead grass, and light green single color BDU's might blend well in short, green grass. Patterns and shape are the next most important cues. The camouflage pattern should match the "blobiness" of the background. Too large a pattern, with color patches on the camouflage that are larger than the average patch of color in the background -- generally increases shape cues, while too small a pattern generally increases contrast cues. The average size of the "blobs" -- the predominate or average spatial frequency of the pattern -- is directly proportional to the expected range of engagement and the expected envrionmental background. The spatial frequency of the camouflage pattern should match the spatial frequency of the background at the range of engagement. While it is in theory possible to use fractal patterns to match the spatial frequencies over some span of ranges, and present there are no good fractal patterns, though this remains an area of pattern research.

The Army Combat Uniform (ACU), which was unveiled in June 2004, is replacing the BDU.



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