The Army Service Uniform (ASU) is a military uniform worn by United States Army personnel in situations where formal dress is called for. It can be worn at most public and official functions, and as an analog for business dress. In combat situations, the Army Combat Uniform is used.
- Timeline of changes
- Dress ASU
- Evening social events
- Class A ASU
- Class B ASU
- Accessory items
- Insignia awards badges and accoutrements
The blue ASU replaces the "Army Green" and "Army White" service uniforms. Originally created in 2008 as a secondary uniform to the former army "class A greens", in the fall of 2010 it started being issued to all soldiers and now is worn army-wide as the official service uniform.
It is based on the current "dress blue" dress uniform. Older antecedents include the uniforms of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and the Union Army's during the Civil War. Their influence is apparent in the overall blue theme, the officers' passants (shoulder-straps) and trouser design.
Timeline of changes
While Washington was in Philadelphia, one hundred neighbors in Fairfax County (VA), under the tutelage of George Mason, had organized themselves into a voluntary militia—probably the first in the colony—electing Washington their commander. Borrowing the colors of the English Whig party, the Fairfax Independent Company wore blue uniforms with buff facings and white stockings.
Washington used Thomas Webb’s A Military Treatise on the Appointments of the Army as a guide for outfitting this particular unit. Washington would soon accept the additional field command of another four independent companies: in Prince William, Fauquier, Richmond, and Spotsylvania Counties.
In the early days of the U.S. Army, the uniform worn in combat was essentially the same as that worn for everyday duties. This was the common practice with most armies of the time. This changed in modern times, as field uniforms were developed which were more suited for battle.
During the Civil War era, army uniforms were relatively simple. Typically, the same uniform served as a garrison uniform and as a combat uniform. Combat soldiers in the Civil War wore a standard dark blue coat, just like personnel in garrisons or in army offices and headquarters. In the first half of the war, many states supplied their regiments with uniforms, resulting in distinctive jackets and buttons. Rank was indicated by a shoulder strap for officers, and chevrons on the sleeves for non-commissioned officers. Branch or specialty could be indicated by the color of the enlisted badge of rank, or the background color for officers' shoulder straps. Uniform standards were relaxed during the war years, especially on campaign, and men often wore a variety of hats in the field.
The 1899 Army Uniform Regulations provided for a cotton khaki uniform for field service, drawing on the experience of the Spanish–American War when both blue and drab clothing had been worn. From 1902 to 1917, the army had two uniforms: a service uniform of wool olive drab Melton cloth for use by soldiers in the field, and a blue dress uniform used for ceremonies and off-post wear by enlisted men.
Lieutenant General Edmund B. Gregory, the Quartermaster General, pointed out in 1946 that World War I uniforms had changed from a comfortable loose-fitting garment to a tight-fitting uniform suitable only for garrison wear. At the outbreak of the war, the army had to develop new loose-fitting patterns which the men could live in, as well as muster on the parade ground. Gregory noted that this gradual change to a tight-fitting uniform in peacetime has been characteristic of the history of uniforms in all armies.
Around 1940, soldiers began to use special uniforms designed for combat or field operations, with numerous special equipment and packs. The M-1941 Field Jacket was one of the first clothing items which was approved specifically for use in the field, and which was not meant to be part of a standard service uniform.
After this, service uniforms started to become more elaborate, as they were not needed to be useful in combat, and could take on a unique appearance, with new features and embellishments. Units began to display their own special patches, and badges were added for various specialties.
Among the earliest unit patches was for the 81st Infantry Division. This unit trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. They created patches showing a wildcat, so that they could identify each other quickly in combat. Some officers questioned this, but General John Pershing decided it was a good idea, so the army started to implement it for all units.
The first commendation ever used by the US armed forces was the original Purple Heart, designed personally by George Washington. It was originally a medal for valor, and at the time was the only one issued by the US Army. It fell out of use after the American Revolution but was later revived and became the modern commendation for wounds in battle, which is how it is used today. World War I was the first time that the army began to award a variety of medals and decorations, except for the Medal of Honor, which was first awarded during the Civil War.
The Combat Infantryman Badge and the Expert Infantryman Badge were created in 1943 by the United States Secretary of War. The combat infantryman badge was originally awarded for valor in combat. In 1947, every soldier who earned it was given a Bronze Star, and since then, it is awarded for having participated in ground combat.
The Army currently uses the blue Army Service Uniform. According to Army Regulation 670-1: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, Army White, and Army Blue uniforms are considered Dress Uniforms. The Army Service Uniform seeks to combine these distinctions through wear stipulations. Possession and use of the blue ASU is now mandatory for all Soldiers as of October 1, 2015. As of fall 2010, enlisted soldiers receive the blue service uniform as part of their basic clothing bag issue when they enter the army during initial entry training. The army further provides active-duty enlisted soldiers an annual clothing allowance to maintain proper fit and appearance of their basic clothing bag issue items. The army includes a series of stipends in this annual clothing allowance towards the replacement of the green service uniform and all basic clothing bag items.
Commissioned officers are given a one-time stipend when commissioned to purchase their required uniform items. Officers then maintain proper fit and appearance of their uniform items throughout their career. The army requires officers to purchase and maintain only the blue service uniform.
To streamline the number of uniforms soldiers purchase and maintain throughout their careers, the army will phase out the green and white service uniforms and retain the blue service uniform as the army service uniform. Soldiers who currently have a blue service uniform can immediately begin wearing this uniform as their ASU.
The ASU was announced in 2006 by then-Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker, and will serve as the U.S. Army's dress, garrison, and ceremonial uniform. Once the new army uniform is phased in, the only green uniforms remaining in the US armed forces will be the olive green Marine Corps service uniform.
The new army service dress made its "debut" at the 2007 State of the Union Address, when General Schoomaker wore his army blue uniform.
The new uniform uses the current "army blue" uniform as a model. Accordingly, in terms of color the uniform will resemble the campaign uniforms worn by soldiers during the Mexican–American War, American Civil War, Indian Wars, and the Spanish–American War prior to the introduction of khaki uniforms in the 1890s (phased out in 1985) and olive drab uniforms in 1902 (phased out and replaced with "army green" between 1955 and 1957), making the blue uniform a dress uniform. Dress uniforms of dark-blue tunics and light-blue trousers were worn by all ranks until 1917 and reintroduced in a modernized form (with open collar and tie) for officers and warrant officers in 1937.
The new ASU will include a new coat and low waist trousers for male soldiers; and a new coat, slacks and skirt for female soldiers. The new fabric for the ASU is heavier and more wrinkle resistant than previously manufactured uniforms and will consist of 55% wool and 45% polyester material. The new ASU coat will have a tailored, athletic cut to improve uniform fit and appearance. The ASU will include a new improved heavier and wrinkle resistant short and long-sleeved white shirt with permanent military creases and shoulder loops. The JROTC version replaces the white shirt with the prototype grey shirt and gold braid is not worn on the blue trousers or on the sleeves of the class A coat. Compared to the Army's previous uniforms, the new ASU does not include a garrison cap; soldiers will continue to wear the Army's berets.
The army encourages soldiers and leaders who own the current army blue uniform to wear it, when appropriate, as their dress, class "A", or class "B" Uniform. The fielding of the new uniform policy establishes a class "B" uniform category for the current army blue uniform as part of its bridging strategy. The class "B" uniform category defines those ASU items worn without the service coat.
The dress blue ASU for males includes the blue coat and trousers and a long-sleeved white shirt with black tie. The dress blue ASU for females includes the blue coat, skirt, and a long-sleeved white shirt with black neck tab. Currently, females in army bands, honor guards, and female chaplains are authorized to wear army blue slacks in the performance of their duties. The black beret and service cap are authorized for wear with this uniform. Combat boots and organizational items, such as brassards, military police accessories and distinctive unit insignia are not worn. All other accessories and insignia authorized for wear with the class "A" service uniform are authorized for wear on the dress blue ASU.
Evening social events
When the dress blue ASU is worn for social events in the evening (i.e. after retreat), men may wear a black bow tie rather than a black four-in-hand necktie, and commanders may direct that headgear is not required.
ALARACT 202/2008 specifies that the "dress blue ASU" for men includes a "black bowtie." It makes no mention of the black four-in-hand necktie in connection with the "dress blue ASU." Since, according to paragraph 10 of the same ALARACT and paragraph 27-19a of AR 670-1, the bow tie is worn only after retreat, this text suggests that the "dress blue ASU" is not conceived of as a uniform order for the daytime, that the "dress blue ASU" for males is not an all-hours uniform including an evening variant with bow tie, and that the "class A ASU" is the highest order of dress for daytime wear.
Class "A" ASU
The class "A" ASU includes the army blue coat and trousers/skirt/slacks, a short or long sleeve white shirt and four-in-hand necktie (male)/neck tab (female) (for accessories and other items authorized for wear on the class "A" ASU, see ASU accessory items authorized for wear).
This uniform also exists in the army JROTC program in a modified version. The main difference is that the AJROTC version mostly resembles the original trial version of the army service uniform which consisted of a grey, long or short sleeved shirt and the blue trousers without the gold stripe sewn on. The blue class A coat is exactly the same as the current issue coat except that the gold edge trimming is not worn on the sleeves of the blue coat, the main blue shade of army blue 450 is the same as on the current army service uniform and the official headgear authorized is the grey beret with a black center flash with gold trim. The official designation of the uniform is the "AJROTC cadet service uniform," or The ASU as well. The new cadet army service uniform will completely replace the cadet army green uniform by October 2015. Most AJROTC units possessed the new blue uniform by October 2014.
Class "B" ASU
The class "B" ASU includes the army blue trousers/skirt/slacks, a short or long sleeve white shirt. Soldiers will wear the four-in-hand necktie with the long sleeve white shirt when it is worn without the class "A" coat. Until the new ASU items are available, soldiers who have the low waist trousers with belt loops, or slacks, have the option of wearing a commercial short sleeve white shirt with shoulder loops in the open collar configuration or with a four-in-hand necktie (black neck tab for female soldiers). Soldiers have the option of wearing a commercial long sleeve white shirt with shoulder loops and a four-in-hand necktie (black neck tab for female soldiers). Soldiers who have the current commercial white shirt without shoulder loops must wear as appropriate, the black wind breaker, black pullover or black cardigan sweaters with this uniform.
Soldiers who have the high waist blue trousers worn with suspenders (designed to wear with the blue mess uniform) may wear these trousers with the current ASU during this transition period. These high waist trousers must be worn with the service coat, black wind breaker, black pullover or black cardigan sweaters.
- Coat, army blue shade 450
- Trousers, army blue shade 451, low Waist With Belt Loops (male soldiers)
- Slacks, Low Waist (female soldiers)
- Skirt (female soldiers)
- Belt and buckle
- Black combat boots (optional for wear with class "A" and class "B" uniforms for soldiers authorized to wear the tan, green, or maroon berets, those assigned to air assault coded positions, and military police soldiers performing MP duties.)
- Black bow tie (worn after retreat)
- Black cape (officer only)
- Blue cape (officer only)
- Chaplain's apparel
- Gold cuff links and studs
- Black all-weather coat
- Black leather dress gloves (worn with black all weather coat or black wind breaker)
- White dress gloves
- Black handbag
- Black shoulder bag
- Black clutch
- Drill sergeant hat (authorized for wear with class "A" and class "B" uniforms)
- Judge's apparel
- Military police accessories (not authorized with the formal class "A" ASU)
- Black necktie (worn on duty)
- Neck tabs
- Black scarf (only with black all weather coat or black windbreaker)
- White long-sleeve shirt
- White short-sleeve shirt
- Black shoes
- Black pumps
- Black cushioned socks (worn with boots only)
- Black dress socks (worn with trousers/slacks)
- Sheer stockings
- Black pullover sweater
- Black unisex Cardigan
- White undershirt
- Black umbrella (female soldiers may carry and use an umbrella, only during inclement weather, when wearing the dress blue ASU. Umbrellas are not authorized in formations or when wearing field or utility uniforms)
- Black windbreaker (only with class "B" uniform)
Insignia, awards, badges and accoutrements
- Service aiguillettes (officers only) (not authorized on the class "B" ASU)
- Airborne background trimming
- Branch of service scarf (not authorized on the enlisted formal class "A" service uniform)
- Branch insignia (not authorized on the class "B" ASU)
- Brassards (not authorized on the dress blue ASU)
- Combat service identification badge (CSIB). Worn when available in place of the Green uniforms shoulder sleeve insignia. The CSIB will be worn centered on the wearer's right breast pocket of the ASU coat for male soldiers; female soldiers wear the CSIB on the right side parallel to the waistline on the ASU coat. The CSIB is ranked fifth in order of precedence below the Presidential, Vice-Presidential, Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badges. The CSIB can also be worn on the shirt when wearing the class "B" versions of the ASU
- Decorations and ribbons
- Distinctive items authorized for infantrymen
- Distinctive unit insignia (enlisted only) (authorized for wear on the class "A" and class "B" uniforms only)
- Foreign badges
- Fourragere lanyards
- Gold Star lapel pin
- Headgear insignia
- Rank insignia
- Officer candidate and warrant officer candidate insignia.
- Organizational flash
- Overseas service bars (optional)
- Distinctive regimental insignia (optional)
- Service stripes (enlisted personnel only)
- Unit awards
- U.S. badges (identification, marksmanship, combat and special skill)
- U.S. Insignia (not authorized on the class "B" ASU)
- Black, maroon, tan, or green beret. (Compared to the former green uniform, a garrison cap is no longer issued.)
- Service cap (male/female; corporals and above)