What They Wear
Army Combat Uniform (ACU)
In 2004, the U.S. Army approved the Army Combat Uniform to replace the woodland and desert camouflage Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU). The new digital universal camouflage pattern is designed to be "worldwide deployable," thereby avoiding the need to produce multiple variations of the uniform for different environments.
- U.S. Army Assault Pack
The assault pack contains a soldier's gear and extra ammunition for use during combat patrols. A soldier's Assault Pack Load (APL) consists of the fighting load carrier (FLC), the waist pack, and the assault pack.
- Multi-Purpose Waist Pack
The waist pack can be worn in one of three ways: fastened to the base of the assault pack; attached to the rear of the Fighting Load Carrier (FLC) vest; or in a "stand alone" configuration using the pack's waist belt.
- Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH)
The Advanced Combat Helmet replaced the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) helmet in 2005. This helmet weighs 3.31 pounds. The ACH features a padded suspension system that provides for a more comfortable fit and increases protection against blunt force trauma. The shell is made of aramid fabric. Similar to Kevlar (a para-aramid fabric), these tough, interlocking fibers are widely used in ballistic-resistant materials.
- Fighting Load Carrier (FLC)
This Fighting Load Carrier vest is configured for a U.S. Army riflemen. The three two-magazine and two three-magazine pouches provide a soldier with 360 rounds of 5.56-mm ammunition for the M4 carbine or M16 rifle. The addition of a six-magazine bandoleer provides another 180 rounds.
The FLC is part of the Army's Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE II) system. This load-carrying system enables soldiers to carry far more equipment than previous variations. Soldiers use the easily interchangeable pockets and pouches to configure their gear for particular duties or missions.
- Hydromax Hydration System
U.S. soldiers are equipped with a camelback-style, hands-free hydration system. The Hydramax pack is carried on the soldier's back with a rubber drinking tube extending over the shoulder.
- Interceptor Body Armor — Improved Outer
Tactical Vest (IOTV)
The Army's Improved Outer Tactical Vest affords soldiers greater protection than the previous versions. In addition to the front and back plates, the vest contains ballistic side panels, which protect the previously exposed area beneath a soldier's arms from enemy fire. The vest also extends farther down the back, protecting the lower spine. Even with the increased protection, at 30 pounds the IOTV is actually 3 pounds lighter than the previous model. The IOTV features a combat carrying system compatible with MOLLE II components, which gives a soldier the option of wearing his or her combat equipment directly on the IOTV, instead of on a Fighting Load Carrier.
PROTECTIVE EYEWEARThe U.S. Army issues protective eyewear such as this to soldiers deploying to combat zones. These glasses come with interchangeable clear and polarized lenses.