Featured Image: Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Cobb, the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss command sergeant major, shakes hands with veterans during the Veterans Day program at Old Glory Memorial in El Paso, Texas, Nov. 11, 2019. In a nod to veterans, Cobb wore the World War II-reminiscent Army Greens Uniform, which is currently available to select Army senior leaders and is expected to be a standard uniform for all Soldiers in 2020. (U.S. Army photo by David Poe.)
One of my many complaints while serving as an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division was how ugly our dress uniform was.
Note: Soldiers complain so much that an old Army adage says, “The only time you should worry about a soldier is when he or she stops complaining.”
The grass is always greener in the other branches, however. The U.S. Marine Corps has their incredible looking Blue-White Dress uniform and the U.S. Navy always looks smart in their Service Dress White uniform or even their Service Khakis.
Meanwhile, in the Army, we were wearing a third-rate Brooks Brothers rip off that always seemed two sizes too large and had a color somewhere between a rust infection and bad ‘70s décor.
After my contract was complete with the Army, I enlisted in the Air Force for four years. Surely, the Air Force with its high-tech mindset and jet-set glitterati pilots would invest in better uniforms.
The Air Force Blues uniform was identical to the Army’s, albeit a slightly better color (Navy blue, ironically).
A student of U.S. military history, I remember watching archival footage of my grandfather’s generation return home from a hard-won victory in Europe and the Pacific.
The WWII Army veterans looked so sharp and optimistic in what was then known as the “pinks and greens” uniform. It was introduced in the 1920s and consisted of a brownish-green blouse (the “greens”) with lighter colored trousers of a slight pinkish hue (the “pinks”).
In 1944, an optional field jacket, sometimes called the “Ike jacket” due to its association with Dwight Eisenhower, was introduced.
Sadly, the “pinks and greens” uniform was altogether de-authorized for officers of the United States Army effective February 1, 1958, and for officers of the United States Army Reserve and the Army National Guard on October 1, 1959.
Then, everything changed.
After a 60-year hiatus, and a full 11 years to the day after my last day of active duty service in 2007, (November 11, 2018) the U.S. Army announced it would adopt a new uniform patterned on the “pinks and greens” effective 2020, with phase-in to be complete by 2028.
U.S. Army Recruiters to be The First to be Issued New Uniform
Historically, the U.S. Army has always had a good public relations team, with the woeful exception of the “Army of One” campaign. Really? Army of one? I thought the Army was all about teamwork.
Still, it makes sense that the first soldiers to sport the new uniform should be recruiters who have a very public-facing role.
In addition to recruiters, nearly 850 new service green uniforms had been issued out for feedback by senior leaders, the Army Band and the Old Guard ceremonial infantry unit.
According to Military.com, drill sergeants are expected to be the next group to receive the uniforms and it will be issued to new recruits in the fall and to other installations later this year.
Don’t Call it the “Pinks and Greens” Uniform
To be sure, the new Army uniform is not an identical copy of its spiritual predecessor. Made with a polyester and wool mix, the new uniform is certainly a modern take on the classic ‘40s-era look.
But don’t call it the “pinks and greens.” Former Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey told Stars and Stripes “We’re calling them Army Greens. Pinks and greens is a World War II nickname.”
Regardless of what you call it, the new uniform appeals to a huge number of soldiers. An Army Times survey found more than 70 percent of respondents favored the idea of returning to the retro-inspired threads.
Best of all, US Army Product Manager Lt. Col. Jonathan Allen said the new uniform is a cost-neutral change that will have no impact on US taxpayers, nor cost the individual soldier anything out of pocket.
As an Army veteran, I am thrilled for the current soldiers who get to wear this sharp new uniform. With so many other pressing concerns in the military, like suicide and sexual assault, a new uniform may seem trivial. But looking good in uniform means feeling good about your service. This, in turn, leads to higher morale across the Army.
This heritage-inspired change is good for the Army and makes me proud to be an Army veteran. Now, it’s time to update the Air Force, my other branch of service, whose uniform hasn’t significantly changed since the branch was born in 1947.
Then again, the Air Force has better things to spend its budget on, like jet wax and volleyball nets.
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