4. No more Velcro.
Many of you hate the Velcro on your Army Combat Uniform.
"To my understanding, Velcro was introduced to save time and money, but in my experience, there is not a whole lot of benefit to it," said Sgt. 1st Class Jean Burgos. "Once the Velcro is worn out, it is almost impossible to get your hook-and-loop fastener to stay put. This is especially true with the patches that have a tab."
Sgt. Travis Rock feels the same way.
"This Velcro has got to go," he said, adding that he wants the Army to go back to sew-on patches and name and branch tapes.
Velcro is "the most un-tactical thing we’ve added to uniforms next to the PT belt," said Capt. Kyle Viehman. "From [training] to real-world missions, Velcro is an annoyance. If you barely brush up against something or someone, rrrrrrrrrip. If you reach into a pocket and grab something, rrrrrrrrrip. And it can be heard from all over."
Viehman is in favor of zippers, buttons and sew-on patches.
Dailey said the Army is looking at removing the Velcro from the ACUs "because it’s an expense."
There are no plans to change the pattern or design of the uniform, but the Army is looking at how it can "continue to adapt the uniform for the future," Dailey said. "When you do things like remove Velcro, you reduce cost."
5. Put rank back on the ACU collar.
"Can we please get our rank back on our collar?" one soldier wrote. "It’s pretty uncomfortable having to look at a female soldier’s chest to see their rank."
The Army began placing rank insignia on soldiers’ chests instead of their collars when it rolled out the Army Combat Uniform.
"The center of the chest is a ridiculous location on the uniform," wrote retired Col. Benny Richardson. "It almost seems like an afterthought as to where to place it after the ACU was developed. Not only is it difficult to see from a distance, it forces soldiers to stare into the chest of approaching soldiers."
Dailey said he’s heard this complaint from the force, but the number of dissenting voices is small.
The design of the ACU "was well-informed by soldiers," he said. "Soldiers designed this uniform, from top to bottom. I think if I did a survey, I think that the overwhelming number of people would say that this is the more appropriate thing to do."
Soldiers who wrote in to Army Times want the Army to put rank insignia back on the collar of the Army Combat Uniform.
Photo Credit: Sgt. Hector Rene Membreno-Canales/Army
6. Don't forget officer branch insignia on the ACU.
Many officers want their branch insignia back.
"If you walk into a [brigade combat team command post] these days, it’s hard to delineate or have an idea who is who and what their job is," one soldier wrote.
Another wrote that he deployed as a brigade fire support officer for an aviation brigade and "I had to explain my role weekly."
Dailey said he hasn’t really come across this issue.
"When I look back, I guess it would be nice. Basically now we’re looking at their badges to delineate who they are, where they came from," he said. "I’m a need guy. I’m trying to think, do we need to do it?"
7. Earrings and nail polish for female soldiers.
Many female soldiers want to be able to wear earrings in the Army Combat Uniform, plus some want the ability to wear nail polish.
Current Army policy bans them both. Earrings are allowed in the Army Service Uniform.
These are two of the most common requests he gets from soldiers, Dailey said.
"Everywhere I go, I get it as a question from a young female soldier," he said.
Right now, the Marine Corps is the only other service that doesn’t allow earrings in the combat uniform. All the other services allow nail polish.
Dailey said he keeps finding "a stalemate" on the two issues.
"I have senior females on my leadership council, and I actually defer to them on this," he said. "I keep having senior female NCOs tell me no."
Many argue against earrings and nail polish because it’ll be difficult to regulate, Dailey said.
"’If we do this, sergeant major, it’s going to get out of control,’" Dailey said he’s been told. "That’s probably true, but my counter to that is not all of them. I’m not going to base the needs and policies of the Army on the few that aren’t disciplined. We as noncommissioned officers should be able to keep that at bay."
For him, Dailey said, it’s about function, capability, discipline and standards.
"Is it going to prevent you from doing something?" he said, adding that soldiers should have a say in informing his decision.
"I spend a lot of time going around asking male and female soldiers alike, and I’m getting the split right down the middle of ‘yes, we should,’ and ‘no, we shouldn’t,’" Dailey said. "I think we’re pretty much on a decision with earrings, and that’s no."
No word yet on nail polish.
8. Flight suits for aviators.
Spc. Bryan Heaston, a medevac crew chief, looks out on the Afghan countryside from a UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopter. Aviators, in emails to Army Times, say they want to be able to wear the distinctive green flight suit instead of the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform.
Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon/Army
Aviators do not seem to be huge fans of the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform, which looks very much like the Army Combat Uniform.
"I love what I do and serving in the Army, but I wish the Army would celebrate its aviation branch like the other services do," wrote Capt. David Grojean. "Let flight crew look like flight crew again! Authorize wear of the one-piece flight suit again. It is cheaper and all of the other services wear them, so why is the Army spending additional dollars on a different uniform?"
Another soldier argued that other specialized jobs in the Army have specialized uniform items. For example, Special Forces, Rangers and paratroopers have their own berets, infantry soldiers have blue cords they wear on their service uniforms, and cavalry soldiers have the Stetson and spurs.
So why not aviators?
"For us Army aviators, the onesie pickle green flight suit has been the iconic image of a pilot," he wrote. "Let us look like pilots."
Dailey said the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform is designed for a purpose.
"I’m thinking, ‘yeah, flight suits are nice. They’re comfortable,’" he said.
But the point was to create one uniform that meets all requirements – including fire protection – that all can wear, Dailey said.
"We wanted to find the mean, the mode and the medium," he said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.