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Uniform and Insignia
The Army is a uniformed service where discipline is judged, in part, by the manner in which a soldier wears a prescribed uniform, as well as by the individual’s personal appearance. Therefore, a neat and well-groomed appearance by all soldiers is fundamental to the Army and contributes to building the pride and esprit essential to an effective military force.
The Army Regulation 670-1 (Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia) prescribes the authorization for wear, composition, and classification of uniforms, and the occasions for wearing all personal (clothing bag issue), optional, and commonly worn organizational Army uniforms. It also prescribes the awards, insignia, and accouterments authorized for wear on the uniform, and how these items are worn. This regulation applies to active and retired Army, Army National Guard of the United States (ARNGUS) and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) personnel. It does not apply to generals of the Army, the Chief of Staff of the Army, or former Chiefs of Staff of the Army, each of whom may prescribe his or her own uniform.
Uniforms are classified by classes and types. Classes may be A, B and C. The types of uniform are: service, dress, mess and all types of class C uniform. The color of the uniform (green, blue or white) depends on the unit and kind of activity the serviceperson is to attend.
The male class A service uniform, for example, consists of the Army green (AG) service coat and trousers, a short- or long-sleeved AG shade 415 shirt with a black four-in-hand tie, and other authorized accessories.
The male class B service uniform is the same as class A, except the service coat is not worn. The black four-in-hand tie is required with the long-sleeved AG shade 415 shirt when the long-sleeved shirt is worn without the class A coat, as an outer garment; the tie is optional with the short-sleeved shirt.
Class C uniforms are the utility, field, hospital duty, food service, and other organizational uniforms.
The Army green service uniform (class A) and authorized variations (class B) are authorized for year-round wear by all male personnel when on duty, off duty, or during travel. These uniforms also are acceptable for informal social functions after retreat, unless the host prescribes other uniforms.
The Army green dress uniform (authorized for enlisted personnel only), with white shirt and bow tie, is equivalent to the Army blue and white uniforms. It comprises the Army green coat and trousers, a commercial long-sleeved white shirt, and a black four-in-hand tie (before retreat) or a black bow tie (after retreat). The black beret is authorized for wear with this uniform. When the enlisted Army green dress uniform is worn for evening social occasions (after retreat), headgear is not required. Combat boots and organizational items, such as brassards and military police (MP) accessories, are not authorized for wear with the Army green dress uniform.
For the most time in his service a soldier will use his organizational uniforms. Among them are the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), either woodland or desert, Improved Physical Fitness Uniform (IPFU), or flight uniform for flight crews. Cold and wet weather gear is designed for special weather conditions. Field hats, garrison caps or berets are a necessary component to the uniform package.
The black beret became the standard headgear for utility uniforms in garrison environments on 14 June 2001. The beret is not worn in the field, in training environments, or in environments where the wear of the beret is impractical, as determined by the commander.
Insignia is placed on the uniform to make distinction between servicepeople of different ranks and services. Besides unit and rank insignia some types of uniform may have full-size decorations, medal sets and qualification badges.
The following accessories are normally worn with most types of uniform: belt, leather black combat boots, black all weather coat, gloves, handbags, drill sergeant hat, military police accessories, neckgaiter, scarves, socks, undergarments, brown undershirt, organizational clothing and equipment, as determined by the commander.
Insignia and accoutrements
The following insignia and accouterments are authorized for wear on most uniforms: badges (combat and special skill badges (pin on or embroidered sew on); subdued identification badges; brassards; branch insignia; combat leaders identification; grade insignia; headgear insignia, subdued shoulder sleeve insignia (current organization); subdued shoulder sleeve insignia (former wartime service); name and U.S. Army distinguishing tapes; organizational flash.
Naval officers wear distinctively different rank devices depending upon the uniform they're wearing. The three basic uniforms and rank devices used are: khakis, collar insignia pins; whites, stripes on shoulder boards; and blues, stripes sewn on the lower coat sleeves.
Proper way of wear
The uniform should be prepared for wear in the following order. First it should be turned in for alterations and cleaning. After that the soldier should check the fit and location of sewn-on items to ensure that they are in compliance with regulations. A common deficiency is poorly placed rank insignia, poorly placed unit patch, sleeves that are too long or short, pant legs that are too long or short, and a coat that is too tight.
Next step is to check placement of all items with the AR 670-1 with a ruler. The regulation may say words like "approximately", but the soldier should strive for perfection. All authorized awards and decorations should be clean, fit correctly, and be properly positioned on the uniform. Brass must be of the authorized type, highly shined, and correctly positioned. It is also important to double-check the precedence for awards.
Footgear must be in good repair and highly shined to include the edge of shoes and soles painted with sole dressing. Also, shoes should be properly laced, not cracked, and heels are not worn down.
Identification (ID) tags should be on a double chain around one’s neck. All pockets should be buttoned, the tie and socks black.