Army Service Uniform

The U.S. Army service uniform is the military uniform worn by personnel in situations in which non-formal dress is called for. It is worn in most workday situations in which business dress would be called for. It can be worn at most public and official functions.

The current main service uniform is the green service uniform.

The blue Army Service Uniform (ASU) is the "new" service uniform, and was adopted for optional wear in 2008. It will start to be issued to new soldiers as mandatory wear as of Fall 2010, and must be worn Army-wide as mandatory wear after July of 2014. The ASU is replacing two uniforms already in use – the "Army Green" service uniform and the "Army White" service uniform. It will be based on the current dress uniform known as the "dress blue" uniform. It has its roots in the historical "Army blue" uniform, which dates back to the Revolutionary War, in which blue coats were worn by the Continental Army. It also recalls the Civil War Union Army's blue uniforms, which caused the two sides to sometimes be referred to in literature and other works as "the Blue and the Gray."

History of the Army uniform


Army Service Uniform Timeline [AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of the Army Uniform Insignia]
An Evolution of a uniform.
#1779 - Blue Continental Army coat, with state facing colors, and white waistcoat and breeches or overalls.
#1782 - Red facings only with branch of service (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 [Main Entry: undress uniform
Function: noun
: a military or naval uniform for use on other than formal occasions
Citation format for this entry:
"undress uniform." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. [] (2008-09-07)
] , 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 [a heavy wool or wool and cotton fabric made in plain or twill weave with a smooth surface and used especially for uniforms and coats
Citation format for this entry:
"kersey." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. ( 7 Sep. 2008).
] . 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; blue only for dress, full dress, mess [A man's semiformal tailless jacket for social or service wear, reaching just below the waistline, and worn open at the front with a vest or cummerbund -- called also monkey jacket, shell jacket ] dress and special evening dress, trimmed with Branch Of Service color.
#1928 - Return of pre-war uniforms, with new visor cap, optional.
#1938 - Officer's roll-collar coat with Branch Of Service-color trim and dress belt (from full dress coat).
#1940 - No blue uniform required during Emergency (end of saber).
#1947 - President 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.
#1952 - Women's Evening Dress uniform with tiara, princess jacket, and floor-length skirt.
#1953 - Post-War officer and EM pattern with patch pockets; no traditional Branch Of Service color trim on EM uniform and officer's trousers stripes.
#1956 - Distinctive uniform for bands and honor guards.
#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 - Officer's mess jacket cuff ornamentation same as evening dress in 1947.
#2006 - All of U.S. Army transition to blue service uniform.


In the early days of the U.S. Army, the uniform worn in combat was the same uniform worn for everyday business. This was the common practice with most armies of the time. This changed in modern times, as the increased demands of modern combat required soldiers to wear a field uniform which was more practical, and less visible on the battlefield.

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 four-button coat, just like personnel in garrisons or in Army offices and headquarters. Rank was indicated by a shoulder strap for officers, and a shoulder patch for enlisted men. Branch or specialty could be indicated by the color of the enlisted badge of rank, or the background color for officers' shoulder straps. Regiments had their own flags, and corps could have their own banner.

Beginning with the Spanish-American War, the Army had two uniforms for general everyday use; a blue uniform for winter wear and a cotton khaki uniform for summer. After the war, the Army had two uniforms: a uniform of wool olive drab melt on cloth for use by soldiers in the field, and a blue dress uniform used for ceremonies and off-post wear by enlisted men. [ The Army Dressed Up] , 1952 article announcing release of new green service uniforms, By Dr. Stephen J. Kennedy, The Quartermaster Review, January/February 1952, Army Clothing History page, Army Quartermaster Foundation, Inc. Website, accessed 4-9-08. ]

The first service uniforms appeared following World War I. Until that point, soldiers went to battle in the same uniform worn by personnel at ordinary functions and postings. Thus, World War I combat soldiers wore the same uniform worn by most personnel on ordinary duty and postings, consisting of four-button jacket with a standing collar.

Lt. Gen. Edmund B. Gregory, the Quartermaster General, pointed out in 1946 that WW I uniforms had changed from a comfortable loose-fitting garment to a tight-fitting uniform suitable only for garrison wear. At the outbreak of World War I, one of the things the Army had to do was 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, Army 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. Army units began to display their own special patches, and badges were added for various specialties.

Among the earliest unit patches ever used by the Army was for the 81st Infantry Division. This unit trained at Fort Jackson, S.C., near Wildcat Creek. 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. [ [ Pride important for US soldiers] , by Lee Berry, Univ of Mississippi, [ ] . ]

The first commendation ever used by the US Armed Forces was the original Purple Heart, designed personally by Gen. George Washington. It was originally a medal for valor, and at the time was the only one issued by the US Army. It fell out of use after the American Revolution, but was later revived and became the modern commendation for wounds in battle, which is how it is used today. World War I was the first time that the Army began to award a variety of medals and decorations, except for the Medal of Honor, which was first awarded during the Civil War.

The first proficiency badges were the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Expert Infantryman Badge, which were created in 1943 by the United States Secretary of War. The CIB was originally awarded for valor in combat. In 1947, every soldier who earned it was given a Bronze Star, and since then, it is awarded for having participated in ground combat.

In World War 2, the main service uniforms were in various khaki and brown color schemes. the most commonly-worn service uniform was a four-button belted coat, with tan slacks. The great increase in various army commands and units caused a growth in variety and quantity of specialty badges and unit patches. For the first time, proficiency badges also appeared, for specialties such as infantry marksmen.

Current service uniforms

Green service uniform

The main current service uniform is known as the green service uniform or class A's. The Army reviewed various ideas in the late 1940s in order to create a distinctive uniform. Pride in the uniform became a major issue in morale and retention, due to use of drab colors. Also, many civilian workers were mistaken for Army personnel, due to massive use of army surplus clothing after World War II. [ [ Prestige of the Soldier] ,By MAJOR A. M. KAMP, JR.The Quartermaster Review - May/June 1954, Quartermaster foundation,, accessed 4-9-08. ]

Army commissions reviewed various factors of design, durability and appearance. Blue was considered because of its acceptance in men's clothing, but it would have been difficult to distinguish it from Air Force and Navy service uniforms and the Marine Corps and Navy dress uniforms. Several colors were reviewed, and finally green (shade 44) was designated the basic color for new dress uniforms. [ THE ARMY GREEN UNIFORM] , by Stephen J. Kennedy and Alice F. Park, March 1968, Clothing and Organic Materials Laboratory, U.S. ARMY Natick LABORATORIES, accessed at, accessed 4-9-08. ]

The green uniform has been worn with minor variations since its official adoption in 1954. The green color was adopted in order to provide a color which was more military, and distinct from various uniforms of civilian service workers. ] It is scheduled to be discontinued in 2011. It features a main jacket with four buttons. Enlisted personnel wear insignia denoting their branch of service on their collars. Officers wear two sets of insignia consisting of the letters "US" on their collars and their branch on their lapels.

Proficiency badges, such as the marksman's badge, are worn on the upper left pocket flap. Above this are ribbons which are earned for various duties and training. Above the ribbons are qualification badges, such as the paratrooper badges and Combat Action Badge. A nametag is worn on the upper right pocket flap. Unit awards and foreign awards are worn above the pocket, with a regimental crest above both. Special duty badges, such as the recruiter's badge, are worn on the upper two pockets of the jacket.

On each shoulder of the uniform are unit patches. The left side will have the patch of the current unit the soldier is stationed with. On the right shoulder of the dress uniform the soldier may wear the patch of the unit to which the soldier was assigned while deployed to a combat zone.

The Army Green Service Uniform has been authorized for withdrawal from issue, and will cease to be issued in Fall of 2010. After that point, only the new Blue ASU will be issued. The Army Green Service Uniform will be withdrawn from wear authorization after July of 2014.

White service uniform

Another uniform, the Army White Uniform, is the Army's equivalent to the Dress White uniform worn by Officers in the U.S. Navy, but unlike the Navy, which mandates the owning and wearing of the white uniform throughout the summer months (year round in tropical locations) by all ranks (E-1 to O-10), the Army White Uniform is treated as an "optional" uniform, and is only required to be purchased by officers and Sergeants Major assigned to posts in the tropics and the southern United States. Introduced in 1902 as a summer undress uniform, its wearing, along with the dress and undress blue, was suspended during World War I and was reintroduced in its present form, along with the modern-day dress blue uniform, in 1935.

With the impending hostilities of World War II, production of both the blue and white dress uniforms were suspended, but the Army White Uniform itself served as a model for the Class "A" Army Tan Uniform, which was introduced in 1942 (replacing a belted version designed around the Sam Browne Belt) and discontinued in 1968 (the shirt & trousers "Class B" uniform was replaced with the Army Green Class "B" uniform in 1985), the post-war belt-less Army Blue Uniform, and the present-day Army Green Uniform, which replaced the WWII "Pinks & Greens" and "Ike Jacket" uniforms in 1956. Like the Army Green Uniform, the Army White Uniform features a main jacket with four buttons, worn with matching white trousers and service cap, but unlike the Army Green Uniform, no unit patches, specialty tabs, or the black beret are worn. Officers wear their silver or gold-colored rank insignia pinned onto the shoulder epaulets, while Sergeants Major wear gold-on-white rank insignia and service stripes on both sleeves as that on the Army Blue Uniform. A white dress shirt and either a black bowtie or four-in-hand necktie, for formal and semi-formal functions, is worn.

The Army White Service Uniform will be withdrawn from wear authorization after July of 2014.

New service uniform


The army currently has three service uniforms; green, blue, and white. Enlisted soldiers receive the green service uniform as part of their basic clothing bag issue when they enter the army during initial entry training. The army further provides active duty enlisted soldiers an annual clothing allowance to maintain proper fit and appearance of their basic clothing bag issue items. The army includes a series of stipends in this annual clothing allowance towards the replacement of the green service uniform and all basic clothing bag items. For enlisted soldiers, the blue service uniform is an optional wear item, purchased if desired, and worn on appropriate occasions.

Commissioned officers are given a one‐time stipend when commissioned to purchase their required uniform items. Officers then maintain proper fit and appearance of their uniform items throughout their career. The army requires officers to purchase and maintain both the green and blue service uniforms.

To streamline the number of uniforms soldiers purchase and maintain throughout their careers, the army will phase out the green and white service uniforms and retain the blue service uniform as the Army Service Uniform (ASU). Soldiers who currently have a blue service uniform can immediately begin wearing this uniform as their ASU.

The ASU was announced in 2006 by then Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker, and will serve as the U.S. Army's dress, garrison, and ceremonial uniform. Once the new Army uniform is phased in, the only green uniforms remaining in the U.S. Armed Forces will be the Marine Corps Service uniform and the rarely worn Navy Aviation Working Greens, both of which are olive green in color.

The new Army service dress made its "debut" at the 2007 State of the Union Address when General Schoomaker wore his Army Blue "B" uniform at the otherwise non-ceremonial event (his fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wore their "Class A" service/garrison uniforms).

The new uniform uses the current "Army Blue" uniform as a model. Accordingly in terms of color the uniform will resemble the campaign uniforms worn by Army personnel during the American Civil War, Indian Wars, and the Spanish-American War prior to the introduction of khaki uniforms in the 1890's (phased out in 1985) and olive drab (OD) uniforms in 1902 (phased out and replaced with "Army Green" in 1955-57), making the blue uniform a 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.


The new army ASU will include a new coat and low waist trousers for male soldiers; and a new coat, slacks and skirt for female soldiers. The new fabric for the ASU is heavier and wrinkle resistant over previously manufactured uniforms and will consist of 55% wool and 45% polyester material. The new ASU coat will have a tailored, athletic cut, to improve uniform fit and appearance. The ASU will include a new improved heavier and wrinkle resistant short and longsleeved white shirt with permanent military creases and shoulder loops. The army anticipates the new ASU items available for purchase in military clothing sales stores in the 4th quarter of Fiscal Year 2009.

The army encourages soldiers and leaders, who own the current Blue (old) ASU, when appropriate, to wear as their Dress Blue, Class “A” or Class “B” Uniform. The fielding of the new uniform policy establishes a Class “B” Uniform category for the current blue ASU as part of their bridging strategy. The Class “B” Uniform category defines those ASU items worn without the service coat.

Dress ASU

The dress blue ASU includes the army blue coat and trousers, a long‐sleeved white shirt and black bow tie for males. The army dress blue ASU for females includes the army blue coat, skirt, and a long‐sleeved white shirt with black neck tab. Currently, 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. When the dress blue ASU is worn for evening social occasions (after retreat) commanders can direct no headgear required. Combat boots and organizational items, such as brassards, military police (mp) accessories and distinctive unit insignia (dui) are not authorized for wear with the dress blue ASU. All other accessories and insignia authorized for wear with the Class “A” service uniform are authorized for wear on the Dress Blue ASU.


The Class “A” ASU includes the army blue coat and trousers/skirt/slacks, a short or long sleeve white shirt and four-in-hand necktie (male)/neck tab (female). (for accessories and other items authorized for wear on the Class “A” ASU see ASU accessory items authorized for wear paragraph below.)


The Class “B” ASU includes the army blue trousers/skirt/slacks, a short or long sleeve white shirt. Soldiers will wear the four‐in‐hand necktie with the long sleeve white shirt when it is worn without the class a coat. (for accessories and other items authorized for wear on the Class “B” ASU see insignias, awards, badges and accouterments worn with the Dress Blue, Class “A”, and Class “B” ASU paragraphs below). Until the new ASU items are available, soldiers who have the low waist trousers with belt loops, or slacks, have the option of wearing a commercial short sleeve white shirt with shoulder loops in the open collar configuration or with a four‐in‐hand necktie (black neck tab for female soldiers). Soldiers have the option of wearing a commercial long sleeve white shirt with shoulder loops and a four‐in‐hand necktie (black neck tab for female soldiers). Soldiers who have the current commercial white shirt without shoulder loops must wear as appropriate, the black wind breaker, black pullover or black cardigan sweaters with this uniform.

Soldiers who have the high waist blue trousers worn with suspenders (designed to wear with the blue mess uniform) may wear these trousers with the current ASU during this transition period. These high waist trousers must be worn with the service coat, black wind breaker, black pullover or black cardigan sweaters.

The army will place the new ASU items in the soldier's clothing bag for initial entry soldiers in 4th quarter, Fiscal Year 2010. The mandatory possession date for the new ASU items is 4th quarter, Fiscal Year 2014.

Uniform Components

*The ASU consists of the following items:
#ASU Coat
#ASU Trousers, Low Waist With Belt Loops (Male Soldiers)
#ASU Slacks, Low Waist (Female Soldiers)
#ASU Skirt (Female Soldiers)

ASU accessory items authorized for wear [IAW AR 670‐1, WEAR AND APPEARANCE OFARMY UNIFORMS AND INSIGNIA.]

#BOOTS, COMBAT, LEATHER, BLACK (Optional for wear with Class “A” and Class “B” uniforms, only for those soldiers authorized to wear the tan, green, or maroon berets, those assigned to air assault coded positions, and Military Police soldiers performing MP duties.) [(PARA 27‐3)]
#BOW TIE, BLACK (Worn after retreat) [(PARA 27‐19A)]
#BUTTONS [(PARA 27‐4)]
#CAPE, BLACK (Officer only) [ (PARA 27‐6A)]
#CAPE, BLUE (Officer only) [(PARA 27‐6B)]
#GLOVES, BLACK, LEATHER, UNISEX, DRESS (Worn with black all weather coat or black wind breaker) [ (PARA 27‐12B)]
#HAT, DRILL SERGEANT (Authorized for wear with Class “A” and Class “B” uniforms) [(PARA 27‐14A)]
#MILITARY POLICE ACCESSORIES(Not authorized with the formal Class “A” ASU)
#NECKTIE, BLACK, FOUR‐IN‐HAND (Worn on duty) [(PARA 27‐19C)]
#NECK TABS [(PARA 27‐18)]
#SCARF, BLACK (Only with black all weather coat or black windbreaker) [(PARA 27‐21A)]
#SOCKS, BLACK, CUSHION SOLE (Worn with boots only) [(PARA 27‐24A)]
#SOCKS, BLACK, DRESS (Worn with trousers/slacks) [ (PARA 27‐24B)]
#UMBRELLA, BLACK (Females 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)
#WINDBREAKER, BLACK (Only with Class “B” uniform) [(PARA 27‐30)]


#AIGUILLETTES, SERVICE (OFFICERS ONLY) (Not authorized on the Class “B” ASU) [(PARA 28‐25) AND (28‐26)]
#BRANCH OF SERVICE SCARVES (Not authorized on the enlisted formal Class “A” Service Uniform) [(PARA 28‐20)]
#BRANCH INSIGNIA (Not authorized on the Class “B” ASU) [(PARA 28‐10 AND 28‐12A)]
#BRASSARDS (Not authorized on the Dress Blue ASU) [(PARA 28‐29)]
#COMBAT SERVICE IDENTIFICATION BADGE (CSIB) (New item to be worn when available). The CSIB will be worn when available in place of the Shoulder Sleeve Insignia on the right sleeve of the ASU. The CSIB will be worn center 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 [(PARA 29‐18)]
#DISTINCTIVE UNIT INSIGNIA (Enlisted only)(Authorized for wear on the Class “A” and Class “B” Uniforms only) [(PARA 28‐22)]
#INSIGNIA OF GRADE [(PARA 28‐5, 28‐6, 28‐7 AND 28‐8)]
#OCS/WOC INSIGNIA [(PARA 28‐14 AND 28‐15)] .
#OVERSEAS SERVICE BARS (Optional) [(PARA 28‐28)]
#SERVICE STRIPES (Enlisted personnel only) [(PARA 28‐27)]
#U.S. BADGES (Identification, Marksmanship, Combat and Special Skill) [(PARA 29‐13, 29‐16, 29‐17 AND 29‐18)]
#U.S. INSIGNIA (Not authorized on the Class “B” ASU) [(PARA 28‐4)]

*The LEADER'S IDENTIFICATION INSIGNIA (GREEN TAB) is not authorized to be worn on the ASU.


#BERET (Black, Maroon, Green and Tan)
#SERVICE CAP (Male/Female; Corporals and above)
#GARRISON CAP [AR 670-1 Change 1, Dated 2005-02-03 deleted the Garrison Cap except for use by ROTC units.]

*The Beret is the primary headgear worn with the ASU by all soldiers unless the commander directs wear of the service cap (For corporals and above).


*Officer and Enlisted soldiers in the grade of Corporal and above will wear trousers with a gold braid sewn on the outside of seam of each trouser leg of the new blue ASU. The braid will be sewn from the bottom of the waistband to the bottom of the trouser leg (Soldiers assigned to the Old Guard are authorized the gold braid regardless of grade).

*On the new ASU, Service Stripes are authorized for wear on the left sleeve for Enlisted soldiers and Overseas Service Bar(s) (also known as "Hershey 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 currently worn on the Army Green Uniform. The new Service Stripes and Overseas Service Bars will be gold in color and trimmed in blue to match the ASU. During the transition to the new ASU, the traditional larger Service Stripes on the optional White and Blue (short jacket) Mess Dress Uniform will be maintained.

*For those soldiers who have purchased the current (old) Blue Uniform, this uniform will remain authorized for wear until the Mandatory Possession Date for the new ASU, 4th Quarter Of Fiscal Year 2014.

*Soldiers who have the current (old) Blue Uniform are not required to remove the existing large Service Stripes.

*Privates through Specialists who now own the current blue trousers' are not required to remove the existing gold braid on their trouser legs.

*Soldiers who purchase the new ASU are required to comply with all wear policies. The intent of this bridging strategy is to allow for maximum wear of the existing uniforms and establish policy for their replacement. During this transformation period there will be soldiers in mixed uniforms. The army is in transformation.

*Beginning in 4th quarter Fiscal Year 2009, soldiers have the option to take their official D.A. photo in the ASU. This is strictly optional on the soldiers part. Soldiers can still continue to take their D.A. photo in the Army Green Service Uniform until the Mandatory Possession Date of 4th quarter Fiscal Year 2014. During this transition period, official D.A. photos can be in either the Army Green Service Uniform or the Blue ASU.

*The wear out date for the Army Green Service Uniform with accessories is the 4th quarter of Fiscal Year 2014.

*All new insignias worn on the ASU will be designed and developed by the United States Army Institute of Heraldry.

ee also

*Army Combat Uniform
*Military uniform
*Uniforms of the United States Army


External links

* [ Army page]
* [ Public Affairs announcement]
* [ Army Clothing History] articles from the Quartermaster Foundation

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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