The Legacy Of The Battle Dress Uniform

Starting on September 1981 until April 2005, the Battle Dress Uniform, also known as the BDU was the official combat uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. Presently, only the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy still authorize its use, with the U.S. Navy set to replace the BDU by October 2011. The U.S. Navy, although having no definite timeline as to when they will cease the use of the BDU, states that they have to make do with BDU until a Navy-specific “digital” woodland camouflage uniform becomes available.

The Battle Dress Uniform is called as such because it is designed specifically for combat. This differentiates these garments from the ones used during formal functions and parades, which are called garrison dress uniforms. The cut and design of the Battle Dress Uniform has similarities to the jungle fatigues worn by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War. These jungle fatigues, in turn, were based on the specialized uniforms worn by U.S. Paratroopers in the Second World War.

In September of 1981, the woodland BDU first made its appearance as the official Battle Dress Uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. Mainly based on the woodland colors of Northern Europe, it consisted of green, brown, tan and black colors. The woodland camouflage pattern was first printed on cotton and nylon blend twill cloth. In an effort to make the BDU more comfortable, a lightweight version was released in 1989. The same woodland camouflage pattern was used but this time; it was printed on 100% nylon rip stop poplin cloth. Its release marked the first time that the Army approved a uniform since its withdrawal from Vietnam. By then the BDU has completely replaced all previous camouflage patterned uniforms including the regulation olive drab colored ones that have been in use since 1952.

Though the BDU has, for so long, been the uniform used during armed conflicts, it was highly criticized for its utilization as a general purpose battle dress. It has a lot of disadvantages especially in extreme environments and climates. The most criticized features are its weight, with its attendant heat and sweat-retaining disadvantages. Design efforts to maximize durability and convenience such as reinforced panels and the placement of multiple, large pockets contributed to the heat and nullified the effects of the open weave cloth. Consequently, it raised the risks of skin diseases and inflammatory conditions especially in the sensitive areas of the groin and thigh. The lightweight BDU had to contend with insect stings, which predisposed soldiers to a host of infectious diseases.

The current combat uniform which replaced the BDU is the Army Combat Uniform, also known as the ACU uniform. While the BDU made use of a woodland camouflage pattern for use in the various environments a soldier finds himself in, the ACU ensures that the soldier effectively blends with it. Used by the Army for its ACUs, the Universal Camouflage Pattern or UCP use Desert Sand 500, Urban Gray 501 and Foliage Green 502 as its colors which blend perfectly with desert, urban and woodland environments.

The Multicam pattern is also being incorporated into the ACU. Printed with seven different shades found in the natural environment, the Multicam was initially issued to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Starting in August of 2010, deployed troops to Afghanistan were given Multicam ACUs. In the latter part of 2010, established soldiers began to incorporate the Multicam OCP uniform. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division was the first Brigade Combat Team to be fully outfitted with Multicam.

The advantages of the ACU over the BDU are many; not the least of which is the improvement of the camouflage capabilities of the fabric being used. While this is so, many people still purchase BDU items for purposes other than wearing it officially. Whether you are looking for BDUs or ACU Universal Camouflage Pattern and Multicam uniforms, you'll find them all at the online store, Military Uniform Supply.com. You can call them at 1-800-336-5225.

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