Composition of the Army Combat Uniform

ACU Guide| Composition of the ACU


Chapter 4 of the AR 670-1 prescribes the pieces that comprise the Army Combat Uniform, as well as when and where it may be worn. Chapter 4 of the DA PAM 670-1 classifies the ACU and the IHWCU (Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform) as the utility uniforms, appropriate for daily work and field operations.

Illustrations of the ACU and IHWCU


AR 670-1 4-2. The Army Combat Uniform consists of the following:

For information about the Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform, click here.

DA PAM 670-1 4-4 a. The fabric of the ACU is 50-percent nylon and 50-percent cotton.

SD-Supply only sells the 50/50 nylon/cotton version of the ACU, although versions made with other material compositions are available from Propper International, such as the 100% cotton uniform which SD-Supply does not offer because it does not meet AR 670-1 specifications.

DA PAM 670-1 4-7 q. Individuals who purchase uniforms or uniform items from commercial sources are responsible for ensuring that the items conform to military specifications or are manufactured in accordance with the policies prescribed by the uniform quality control program (see AR 670–1 for details).

All ACU items sold by SD-Supply adhere to the policies prescribed for the ACU per AR 670-1 with the exceptions that the ACU coats do not include the infrared feedback squares, which would otherwise be affixed to the shoulders, above the shoulder pockets, but they do include the hook and loop covers for the squares, if they need to be added. Also, the ACUs manufactured by Propper International are not treated with permethrin, the mosquito repellent chemical. Neither of these exceptions violate AR 670-1 or DA PAM 670-1, and uniforms are considered fully compliant with uniform regulations for wear in both federal and state service.

DA PAM 670-1 4-7 o. The ACU–female is an authorized alternate ACU designed in a wider range of sizes. If worn, it must have the same general appearance and fit as prescribed for the ACU.

SD-Supply offers the full catalog of sizes for the ACU-Female uniforms. Females may choose to wear either male or female sizes, depending on their body types, but the female sizes according to different measurements than the standard male ACU sizes.

Insignia and accouterments

DA PAM 670-1 4–5. The following insignia and accouterments are authorized for wear on the combat uniform:

a. Identification (ID) badges; these can include Recruiter badges, Army Career Counselor badges or Drill Instructor badges, typically worn on the chest pockets.
b. Combat and special skill badges; includes federal badges like Air Assault, Expert Infantry, Combat Infantry, etc. as well as SGAUS badges like the Basic MEMS, Senior MEMS and Master MEMS, typically worn above the branch tape.
c. Special skill tabs; includes Ranger, Special Forces, Airborne, Sapper, etc, and in some SDFs includes CERT or Amateur Radio Operator tabs.
d. Brassards; includes MP, Medic, Instructor, etc; brassards are usually only authorized while actively serving in that capacity and not authorized for permanent wear; check with your chain of command for SDF rules on brassards.
e. Branch insignia (chaplains and chaplain candidates only).
f. Grade insignia; rank patches worn on the ACU coat and patrol cap, applied either by Velcro or sewn-on.
g. Headgear insignia; usually rank, but includes Chaplain branch insignia in lieu of rank.
h. Shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI), current organization; commonly referred to as "unit patch".
i. Shoulder sleeve insignia—military operations in hostile conditions (SSI–MOHC); commonly referred to as "combat patch" for service members who served in federal service in combat zones.
j. Insignia, distinguishing, U.S. Army tape [SDF branch tape] and nametape; specific to SDF regulations with regards to color and embroidery thread.
k. Full-color U.S. flag [SDF state flag] or tactical flag embroidered insignia.

Care of the ACU

DA PAM 670-1 4-7 n. The following care instructions must be followed when caring for the combat uniform to maximize the service life and maintain optimum performance. Soldiers will—

(1) Not starch the combat uniform under any circumstances. Using starch, sizing, and any process that involves dry cleaning or a steam press will adversely affect the treatment and durability of the uniform, and it is not authorized.

(2) Wash the combat uniform in cold water and mild detergent containing no optical brighteners or bleach.

(3) Tumble dry the combat uniform at low heat (not to exceed 130 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove immediately from the dryer and fold flat or place on a rustproof hanger to ensure heat from the dryer does not set wrinkles. To drip dry, remove from the washer and place on a rustproof hanger. Do not wring or twist.

(4) Soldiers may roll-press uniforms, as necessary.

General Fit Guidelines

More specific information regarding the fit of each uniform item may be found on the detail pages by clicking the links above for each item. The DA PAM 670-1 provides some general fit guidelines.

DA PAM 670-1 4-7 q.

  • The cap should fit snugly and level over the head with the visor straight across the forehead. The bill of the cap should not block the individual's vision.
  • The coat should fit easily over chest or bust and shoulders, allowing free use of arms without discomfort. The bottom edges in the front of the coat will protrude if the coat is too snug at the waist and hips. Coat fronts should be smooth and even at the bottom edges. Bottom edge of the coat must extent to the crotch near the top of the trousers’ cargo pocket flap.
  • When buttoned, the trousers must fit easily at the waist. The crotch of the trousers should not bind. Trousers must fit loosely enough at seat to allow squatting and bending. The legs of the trousers must be long enough to allow blousing over the combat boots.

Alterations - In general, alterations to the Army Combat uniform are not authorized, with the exception of shortening the length of the ACU trousers. This includes, but is not limited to tapering the torso of the coat, narrowing the upper sleeves, narrowing the cuff of the sleeve, or narrowing the leg of the trousers.

DA PAM 670-1 4-7 q. Only those alterations authorized by AR 700–84 and TM 10–227 are authorized.

AR 700-84 Table 13-1: Alterations to uniforms, ACU are limited to shortening the trouser length.

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