By Sgt. Nathan Booth, 4th Public Affairs DetachmentOctober 22, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas (Oct. 22, 2012) -- With a change to the Army's Improved Physical Fitness Uniform looming, Soldiers here got a firsthand look at proposed designs at an open expo, Oct. 15.
The uniform options presented are the result of a February survey administered through Army Knowledge Online.
A new Army-wide survey, which ends Oct. 29, allows Soldiers to choose which of the new designs they most prefer.
The survey asks Soldiers to choose from a variety of options including different colors for the jacket and pants -- black or gray, with a thin or thick chevron across the chest of the jacket. It also asks about including pinstripes on the pants and shorts. The accents for the uniform can be yellow, grey or black. For the long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, Soldiers may choose between three colors and the Army star logo on the top left of the shirt or the word "Army" on the chest.
"When I grew up in the Army, a long time ago, I don't really remember people ever asking me, 'Hey, what do you think about the design of the ruck sack?'" said Command Sgt. Maj. Emmett Maunakea, from Fort Belvoir, Va.'s Program Executive Office Soldier. "You're helping to drive a uniform that is going to change. Let your voice be heard on this."
According to Maunakea, the expected wear date of the new uniform is fiscal year 2015, but first, PEO Soldier needs to decide on a color scheme and design. Their new survey, which asks Soldiers just that, has nearly doubled the response of their first poll, collecting the opinions of more than 143,500 troops.
"The reasons (Soldiers are) so important in the decision-making process is that they are the end-user," Maunakea said. "I can have the greatest scientists and techie guys put something together, but they don't wear it every day."
Staff Sgt. Jasmin Johnson, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, helped demonstrate the fit and wear of the new uniform at the expo.
"After wearing the new PT uniform, I think the changes are on point," Johnson said. "I really do want to see these changes come into effect, because there are changes from the weight of the uniform to it being antimicrobial."
In addition to the color and design of the uniforms, the proposed uniforms feature upgrades to a variety of technologies. The prototype adjusts fabric weight and fit of the uniform, adds tagless labels, moisture-wicking material and anti-microbial cloth treatment, and it removes reflective properties and the elastic trim on the jacket and pants.
Although color and design are just a few of the total changes, they remain popular topics of discussion.
"I liked the black shirt with the Army logo. It made it look more professional," Sgt. 1st Class Luis Corona, transition assistance career counselor for the Army Career Alumni Program, said. "I didn't like the yellow top. It makes it look more like the Navy's uniform."
The Army will test modifications to the uniform in a series of limited field tests for various climates. PEO Soldier will use the results of the tests to adjust the uniform, as needed.
"What we're going to do is have units in different climates, like Hawaii for a tropical area, maybe Alaska or Fort Drum, N.Y., for a colder area. Then out of that, we could even end up making more changes to the uniform," Maunakea said. "Once the chief of staff of the Army and the [Sergeant Major of the Army] have gotten all of the feedback from the surveys, they'll go with whatever Soldiers want."
Maunakea said that although PEO Soldier has fielded many upgrades to the new physical training uniform, keeping the cost reasonable is always a concern.
"As they designed this, one of the big things they were looking at was how to keep the cost of the uniform within 3 to 4 dollars of the current uniform," he said. "That's what we've been able to do even with the new materials and everything else."
To vote on the new IPFU with a CAC, go to https://ipfusurvey.natick.army.mil. To vote without a common access card, visit https://surveys.natick.army.mil/Surveys/ipfu.nsf.