Army Uniform Basics

There are many parts to the Army uniform. Some of these can vary according to the unit your soldier is assigned to as well as any additional training he may have received. Let’s talk about uniform basics so if your soldier calls and says he needs you to bring him his jungle boots, you know what he is referring to.

Just a note, my husband helped me with this article and these standards apply to those in a Ranger BN. For your husband’s unit, when he wears certain items (or if he is allowed to) may differ.

Army Head Cover

The beret is worn with duty uniform (ACUs) and as with all other head cover, it is not worn indoors or on the airfield. There are different color berets to identify certain units.

Tan beret is worn by Rangers serving in Ranger Regiment, green beret is worn by Special Forces, maroon beret is worn by Airborne units and all other units are issued the black beret.

The patrol cap (PC) is worn with the field uniform and has the same pattern as the uniform. Many soldiers prefer the PC because it actually blocks the sun where the beret does not.

Army Uniforms

The Army issues ACU pattern uniforms that can be used as a field or duty uniform. The difference between the two is based on the patches that are worn with each uniform. In my husband’s case, the field uniform was more sterile than the duty uniform.

Beginning soon, the Army will be issuing dress blues to all soldiers. In the past, soldiers were issued Class A’s (green uniform) at basic training and had the option to purchase the dress blues uniform if they wished. These uniforms are generally only worn for more formal occasions to include unit or Army balls, funerals, memorial services, etc.

At basic training, other layers will be issued as well such as undershirt and cold weather gear (“snivel gear”).

Soldiers also have a separate uniform for PT beyond basic training. For most soldier, this is a grey short and black shorts. Typically, they are issued cold weather gear as well for PT which would include pants and a jacket. Some units have different standards for PT uniforms. For instance in Ranger BN, Rangers were a black shirt with unit affiliation on the chest and what are known as Ranger panties (running shorts). In recent years, the Ranger shorts were lengthened. But I must say, the Ranger panties are some of the most comfortable shorts I’ve ever had on. We bought out the PX when they were switching over to the longer shorts.

Army Boots

In the past, the Army issued black boots in basic training that had to be polished on a regular basis. Now the tan boot is issued during basic training and does not require polishing. This is the boot that most soldiers wear throughout their Army career.

Depending on his unit and command, he may be authorized to wear other boots such as jump boots or jungle boots. When wearing ACUs, the entire boot must be tan including the sole of the boot.

For more information on regulations concerning uniforms, consult AR 670-1.

Picture courtesy of Lynette Gallagher

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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  1. my fiance is about to take the ASVAB and we are trying to plan a wedding all at the same time(stressfull) for our wedding is it required for him to wear his uniform in the wedding?

  2. Hey, this website is great! Thank you so much for creating it. But I just wanted you to know that soldiers are no longer allowed to wear their beret with their ACU’s, only with their dress blues.

  3. To piggyback on the subject of the beret with the dress uniform, this is also true for my soldier as well who is in the Army Reserves. He wears the PC with his ACUs in the digital camo print that they have now and the beret he wears with his dress blues.

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