Uniformly Stupid? Part 2


See Part 1 here.

I’m on the road, so I’ll be doing some “best of” posts. Right now, this is the most searched for post. 

While most people in the Army spend just about all their time in a working uniform like the ACU, there are occasions when something a little more formal is needed.

Since the late 1950s the standard Army Service and Dress uniform for most soldiers has been the Army Green Uniform. Folks in the Army almost universally refer to it as “Class A’s”.

When the uniform jacket is removed, the Army Green Uniform can be worn as the Class B uniform, suitable for most office environment jobs. When I served as a recruiter, most days we wore the Class B.

No, that's not me...

No, that's not me...

The problem with the Army Green Uniform was simple. It was ugly as sin in church. There was an alternative, however, one with a great history dating back practically to the first days of the Army. The Dress Blue Uniform.

Female Officer and Male Enlisted Service Dress Blues

Female Officer and Male Enlisted Service Dress Blues

There’s a reason why the trousers are a different shade blue from the coat. Back in the days of the Old West, when cavalry troopers wore the blue uniform as there work clothes, they would routinely remove their coat, roll it up and carry it strapped to the back of the saddle. The trousers faded from the sunlight and wear and tear, but the coat didn’t. Hence the difference.

Service Dress Blues were always an optional item for enlisted personnel. You could buy them, but you didn’t have to. Since they cost a lot of money and there were relatively few occasions to wear them, most junior folks did without.

Back in 2005 or so, the Chief of Staff of the Army made the decision to do away with the Army Green Uniform and modify the Blue uniform to replace it.The new variations are shown below.

The Army Blue Uniform

The Army Blue Uniform

Personally, I wish they had done this about 25 years ago. I always hated the Green Uniform, and as soon as I could, bought a set of Blues. And anytime I had a chance to wear them, I did. One fairly common occasion was the “Dining Out”. A Dining Out is when a unit, typically a battalion, has a formal banquet, with spouses and sweethearts invited*. This is a social occasion run on military lines- the colors are presented, the chaplain gives the invocation, there are a couple of (usually brief) speeches, and maybe some awards and recognitions. Then there is usually some dancing. The important thing is, your best girl gets a chance to put on her best dress and go out to be seen. Chicks dig that.  Since a lot of guys didn’t own Dress Blues, they made do with the Army Green Uniform with a white shirt and a bow tie.

Your author, center, in Dress Blues, flanked by two friends in Class A's.

Your author, center, in Dress Blues, flanked by two friends in Class A's.

Incredibly, I managed to save this picture, but lost the picture of my date. You’ll have to take my word for it that she was stunning. Really. The two guys in the photo were great friends and fellow warriors, but neither was all that attractive….

*You could invite your spouse, or your sweetheart, but NOT your spouse and your sweetheart…

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Uniformly Stupid? Part 2

  1. Quartermaster

    Personally, I liked the Class A uniform. I had seen blues on many occasions, and most the guys who had them, ossifer or enlisted, didn’t wear them well. They simply did not fit as well. I like the tradition of the “Arny Blue” as in the old cadet song from West Point and thought the old tunics looked better in many ways, although they would not be comfortable (I tried friend’s uniform who was a War of Northern Aggression re-enactor and didn’t find it comfortable at all). I spent most of my OCS time in BDUs, which I liked, and Class Bs, which looked nice if they fit properly. Blues can look nice if the fit is good, just like any uniform can be.

    I wish the Army would go back to branch colors for the stripe on the britches, though. They would have to adopt some news colors for the nontraditional branches like Aviation, but it’s a small matter.

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    • I agree, most people that wear army uniforms do not take the time to get them tailored appropriately. It is almost embarassing at times. The big problem is that you have to lay out good money to get a quality uniform in the first place, and most people are either ignorant of what quality is, or too cheap to spend for something that they will only wear a couple of times a year.

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    • I seem to recall a fair bit of effort went into fitting our Class A’s when I was in Basic. But there’s only so much the Army can do when it issues a uniform. The uniforms aren’t exactly bespoke.

      I can’t really expect a troop to spend time and money on tailoring during their first enlistment, but officers and senior NCOs should certainly take the time and effort to ensure a great fit.

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  2. MikeD

    I got my blues for my wedding in 96. Tailoring was actually MUCH cheaper than I expected. Best part was my dad (retired Col) came in his blues at my request. He had his tailored for him in 1962, and they still fit him perfectly 34 years later. Wish I could say the same.

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  3. $400.00….four *hundred* dollars at MCSS. For ASU’s. And they still have problems stocking the right sizes and pants (unless you’re Andrea the Giant or a member of the Lolipop Guild). Yes, even for us junior enlisted..four hundred clams for the new “Class A’s”…

    Don’t get me started on the Class B’s.. with jump boots soldiers look like mall ninjas…

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    • Esli

      Exactly right; the Class B is horrific looking, unless you are in the market for a new look at the ice cream parlor.

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  4. Pingback: The Garrison Monster Cometh « The Iron Dice

  5. The Army will be coming out with new sizes for the ASU jacket. The new athletic cut jackets should start hitting stores this July. That should improve the look and fit of the jacket on Soldiers. I wear my blues 4 times a week doing state honor guard funerals. Good a lot of good coments on the blues. Never had that happen in greens. I just hope that the Army adds a waist belt to the jacket. Should have kept the big stripes too.

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  6. Christopher

    Honestly enough the new ASU’s are probaly the worst thing I’ve seen in my 12+ years in. I forget the amount of times, I’ve witnessed or overheard someone mistaken for a “bus driver,” overall this is just another waste of money. Granted, I’m fully supportive of the removal of the beret (biggest reason is the supposed inability for females to wear it correctly because they don’t want to mess up their hair-don’ts). Even as an Airborne Soldier, it slightly ruffles me that so many wear this headgear incorrectly. Back to the ASU’s, I remember reading in the Army Times how one reader asked a rather good question: “Did anyone actually get the survey, that supposively got this garble of a uniform inacted? Does anyone know someone who knows someone who knows someone who even got this Survey?” Yeah, it’s kinda like that, I’m doubtful any such survey went out further then down some random hallway at HRC or the White House filled with some yes-man agreeing whole-heartedly to whatever bad idea their rater thought was amazing….. Now, I love the idea of doing away with two sets of uniforms (greens & blues) and merging them into one, however the outcome is presented horribly. I’m sure if someone was scour the institute of heraldry or google (since that’s the almighty point of reference these days…) they’d be able to come up with a reason why we’d all be sporting pink jackets with yellow pants. Seriously, the colors are among the worst mis-match I’ve seen since I was a kid in the 80′s sporting neon t-shirts with airbrushed stencils on them with knee-high socks. Personally, we should’ve copied the Marine’s idea with the Mandarin collar and went with simple black and gold (the Army colors). The idea of placing certain skill badges along the stomach (Drill Sergeant, Recruiter, etc., etc.) is nothing short of revolting to see someone sport when they’re obviously breaking 600-9 although too high up the chain for anyone to raise a word about it (“Round,” is not an acceptable shape in the Army…). I figure before I step off my soap-box, if there was one thing I’d like to see change it would be for soft-skill folks to be granted unit affiliations. We put in the same (if not more) hours in various units, although we’re denied the same rights as our combat MOS’s regarding this age old fraternal ideology. For instance, my dad spent most of his 20+ year career with 3/505 out of Fort Bragg (the cradle of civilization). Should I ever get the assignment witch doctors at branch to send me home to Bragg, and I was able to serve in the same unit I could never show my pride in such an organization (or any other for that matter) by being unit affiliated. However, joe-s*** the rag man kid fresh out of OSUT still wearing the first set of PT’s given to him gets to walk around with said unit crest above any/all unit awards like he’s an automatic inductee into the unit. My train of thought is that if we’re good enough to support the unit, why couldn’t we claim that unit?

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  7. chigg

    Give me the green uniform ,infantry rope ,colored division patches,ribbons ,colored stripes and rank, crests make the guy look like a soldier. The blues make me think that John Wayne and the horse soldiers will show up at any moment

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