Army recruits will have the option of wearing a lighter hot-weather uniform as they receive their initial issue bags thanks to Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.
DLA Troop Support’s Clothing and Textiles supply chain provided about 10,000 sets of improved hot-weather combat uniform, or IHWCU, coats and trousers to recruit training centers across the country by Oct. 21, said Diane Douse, a customer account specialist on C&T’s Army RTC team.
All recruits will now receive two operational camouflage patterned combat uniforms and two IHWCUs with initial issue. While the uniform styles are similar, the IHWCU is lighter and more breathable with 7% more nylon, said Karla Williams, C&T product services branch chief for utility clothing and accessory items.
“The IWHCU is 57% nylon and 43% cotton. The weave is the same, but the fabric is lighter by five to six ounces per yard,” she said.
The IHWCUs also have smaller cargo pockets, a pen pocket, lengthened belt loops and other altered design features. Both uniforms are treated with the insect repellent permethrin.
C&T manually managed stock levels in DLA’s processing systems to ensure IHWCUs were available at all recruit training centers, located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; and Fort Benning, Georgia; in time for the Army’s Oct. 1 rollout, Douse said.
“It took coordination with business process analysts, demand planners, and supply and contracting team members to make sure everything was in place,” she added. “The collaboration comes from so many different areas, and everyone was really on top of it.”
Rachel Ganaway, C&T contracting integrated support team chief, said meeting the Army’s rollout schedule was a challenge because of pandemic-related closures in March and April and social distancing limitations.
“The IHWCU program was prioritized over other programs, but vendors were still requesting between 90- to 120-day extensions on production deadlines for COVID-19 impact,” Ganaway said. “We still met the Army’s Oct. 1 deadline; it was just harder.”
Ganaway also dealt with manpower reductions as two of her five contract specialists were reassigned to support DLA’s personal protective equipment mission. C&T worked internally and with vendors to balance reduced production of ACU uniforms with the Army’s needs just months after it met production goals for an Air Force uniform in October 2019.
“Juggling competing priorities and production levels is not an easy task for the contracting team or the vendor,” said Tom Holtz, chief of C&T’s Recruit Clothing Division.
C&T provided 100,000 IHWCUs to Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores across the country in early fiscal 2020 before they were issued to recruits, said David James, C&T’s customer relations management chief of the Air Force recruit and AAFES team. C&T plans to provide AAFES stores about 25,000 sets of IHWCUs each month, James said.
Quality assurance specialists have conducted vendor site visits to ensure Army specifications were met, as well, Williams added.