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U.S. Army leaders, apparently deciding that the greatest generation was also its best-dressed, are seeking a return to World War II-style “Pink and Green” uniforms cut from modern, eco-friendly fabric.
The new Army outfit will be business casual “everyday wear” that better matches civilian attire in today’s professional environment. It will complement, not replace, the current dress uniform. It pairs a belted olive-drab wool jacket (the green) with “light drab” trousers (the pink), according to the National World War II Museum.
“We want to show off our great soldiers,” Dan Dailey, the Army’s top enlisted soldier, said in a video posted on Dec. 6, 2017. He says the uniform connects soldiers to a time when they were highly respected.
The original Pink and Green, known as PGU, was a dress uniform worn by Army officers from the early 1930s through the early 1950s, according to a January news release from the Army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, which has four officesto buy equipment ranging from laser target locators to a squad-level machine guns.
The federal government spends about half a billion dollars a year on apparel, including uniforms. Soldiers would be issued the uniform, Dailey told concerned soldiers in March, and those receiving a clothing allowance would not have to pay for it out of pocket.
In 2017, prototypes of the PGU were worn at the largest annual Army conference and exhibition, in Washington, DC. Daileyhimselfwore a prototype of the PGU at the Army-Navy football game on Dec. 9, 2017. The PGU was worn in a trip to Capitol Hill in February 2018, according to the Army Times.
PEO Soldier worked with historians for accuracy and with industry to craft modern-fitting designs for men and women using more comfortable materials. The PGU will be an alternative to the blue full-dress Army Service Uniform, with its bling-filled brass-button blazer and stodgy styling. Just because the Army’s ethos is to “kill people and break things” doesn’t mean soldiers shouldn’t look good doing it.
Final specifications and patterns for the PGU will be complete before October 2018, and with go/no-go decision set for November, according to a timeline that the Defense Logistics Agency released in November 2017. Initial fielding would happen in mid-2019, and full deployment in 2020.
The Army conducted market research in October 2017, looking for companies that could begin producing on a $5 million order within 15 days of signing a contract, and could produce up to 150,000 PGUs within 19 months of contract award.
The current status of the competition isn’t clear. The Army announced on May 15 that a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary, Fechheimer Brothers Co., would be issued a sole-source contract, but that notice was rescinded a day later.
Cincinnati-based Fechheimer would have made a limited run of the outfits for the Army to test before deploying service-wide. With $1.4 million in sales in fiscal year 2017 ending Sept. 30, Fechheimer has a tiny share of the half billion dollar apparel market for the federal government. In 2017, it provided some uniforms to all U.S. military departments, the Merchant Marine Academy, and the Coast Guard.
In a May 17 telephone call, Bob Getto, president of Fechheimer, declined to make anyone available to discuss the matter. A contracting officer for the government hasn’t yet responded.
Made in the USA
Uniforms are big business for the military. Federal contracts for combat and dress uniforms are run through the Defense Logistics Agency’s Troop Support Clothing & Textiles office. The DLA planned to buy 200,000 men’s and 60,000 women’s dress blue coats this fiscal year. Derossi & Son Co. has a $54 million contract to provide men’s dress blue coats from April 3, 2015 through June 18, 2018.
The Berry Amendment, enacted in 1941, requires the Pentagon to give first preference to U.S.-made fabric and clothing when making purchases above a value called the simplified acquisition threshold, currently $250,000, subject to many exceptions and waivers.
Many of the largest apparel contracts funded by the Army are with Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilition Industries Inc., Peckham Vocational Industries Inc., ReadyOne Industries Inc. and other contractors in the AbilityOne program. AbilityOne provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and many clothing and textilecontracts are reserved for nonprofit vendors in the network.