BDU is the accepted abbreviation for Battle Dress Uniform. this was the standard uniform used by the U. S. Armed Forces from 1981 till 2005. Since that time, the standard BDU has been replaced in the U.S. military however they continue to be used in other countries. some special force police such as SWAT and DEA officers still use these uniforms for tactical situations.
History of the BDU
The name battle dress is used because BDU’s were meant for battle situations. They should not be confused with the garrison dress uniforms which you will see worn by military participating in a parade or organized function.
BDU’s can be either plain or come in various patterns with the typical camouflage pattern being seen most frequently. different camouflage patterns include the woodland camouflage (simulating the Northern European landscape), wooded, jungle, and tropical environments. these patterns replaced the olive drab uniforms of earlier days.
Initially there were two types of BDU: one for hot weather and one for temperate weather. the hot weather type consisted of a coat and pant made of 100% ripstop cotton. the temperate coat and pant were made of a 50/50 blend of nylon and cotton twill. these uniforms were criticized for easy fraying and a need for starching. these types of uniforms were then replaced with an enhanced hot weather BDU in 1996.
Current Features and Designs of BDU’s
Modern BDUs use a dye that helps prevent detection from Near Infrared Image Converters. this helps soldiers avoid detection by allowing the blend in with the surrounding terrain at the same radiation level.
Research is constantly ongoing to create better camouflage patterns. the Desert BDU (Chocolate-Chip Camouflage) designed in the 1960′s and the night-time desert grid came from this research. both of these patterns were in use during the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
General Norman Schwarzkopf had a hand in modifications to the Desert BDU which resulted in it later being made with 100% cotton poplin and without the reinforcement panels. both design changes implemented to accommodate desert combat conditions. these desert BDU’s were discontinued at the end of the war.
The Desert Combat Uniform (DCU) was then introduced (1992). this tri-colored camouflage pattern was used during Somalia and at the start of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. the DCU was then replaced with the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) and the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU). the DCU was often referred to as coffee stains by military personnel.
New camouflage patterns have been developed for two reasons: there was a need for branches of the military to differentiate themselves and advancement in camouflage research.
The Marine Corps first moved away from the BDUs and moved into the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniforms (MCCUU). these advanced uniforms uses digital patterns like MARPAT.
In 2007, digital patterned uniforms moved into the navy. these Navy Working Uniforms (NWU) came in blue and gray which was intended to hide stains, wear well as well as make the sailors a less visual target. A fleece jacket, sweater and parka can be added to the NWU for cold weather.
Navy SEALS and Seabees wear the tri-color desert BDUs for operations outdoors.
The Coast Guard created the Operational Dress Uniform (ODU) in 2004. this replaced the cold and hot weather Undress Duty Uniform. these newer ODUs have the familiar basic design seen in BDUs. the differences are that the lower pockets have been eliminated, the sleeves can be rolled up and the pants can be inside the boots.
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