And, frankly, the Army needs a little boost in visibility at a time when it is having difficulty recruiting in an environment where only a small percent of service-aged youths is both qualified and interested in military service.
Uniform changes are never easy, and critics abound, both in and outside the Army.
But the proposed greens uniform — a name drawn from the pinks and greens uniform that first appeared in the mid-1920s and was retired in the mid-1950s — provides a smart, stylish look for everyday wear that allows dress blues to become what they were always intended to be: the dress uniform that is a bit too formal to wear every day.
Limited soldier testing, like at the recent Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., drew largely positive responses, particularly from younger soldiers and officers.
With a long phase-in to avoid out-of-pocket costs for enlisted soldiers and for senior NCOs and officers who are nearing retirement, the Army has stated it does not intend to seek any increase in appropriated funds to implement this change.
Preliminary indications are that the Army will delay issuing the new uniform to troops until they actually complete initial entry training, thereby reducing the costs attached to issuing service uniforms to those who cannot successfully complete training.
And, the new uniform is expected to have a 33 percent longer wear life.
While cost is most certainly a factor in this decision, it is not the only or even the primary reason to change.
America’s Army needs a uniform that is its own, that is readily identifiable by the citizens the Army serves. The uniform should create a positive, professional public image for the Army at a time when many Americans know little about their Army, and couldn’t tell the difference between a soldier or a police officer. The greens uniform does all of that.
We like the preliminary decision that the women’s version of the uniform will be issued with slacks and low-quarter shoes, with optional pumps and skirts for those who wish to purchase them.
The Army does need to redesign the maternity uniform, though. The first versions were pretty awful.
As two old soldiers with an enduring love of our Army, we think the time is right to make this change. We especially like that the Army is on the path to a new everyday service uniform that will stand out in a crowd.
We know sharp-looking soldiers will wear greens with pride.
Retired Gen. Carter F. Ham is president and CEO of the Association of the U.S. Army, and retired Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston is AUSA’s vice president for NCO and Soldier Programs.