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Whether you are a professional soldier or just someone who is passionate about military topics, the wear and appearance of military gear has been a source of confusion for centuries. You might find yourself asking questions like:
- Am I wearing the proper boots?
- What is the Army’s official regulation for how to wear a uniform?
- Is my uniform in compliance with the Army’s standards?
Fortunately, the Army Regulation (AR) 670-1 details everything you need to know about your military appearance!
There’s just one problem: military regulations, standards and specifications, like a lot of government writing, are written in “legalese” that can be pretty hard to parse if you’re not an expert. But don’t worry—we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
If you’ve purchased an Army uniform before, you’ve probably heard the words “AR 670-1 compliant.” But what exactly does that mean? And does it really matter?
What is AR 670-1 compliance?
The full title of AR 670-1 is “Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia“, and it is the essential reference for uniform and grooming standards.
If something is “AR 670-1 compliant,” that means it could be worn by an Army Soldier as they went about their work, and their officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) wouldn’t be able to correct them or require them to change their appearance.
For example, a Soldier might prefer to wear sideburns that extend down along the length of his jaw. His NCOs, however, who are well-versed in AR 670-1, might notice his sideburns are too long and invoke the regulation to force that Soldier to trim the sideburns into AR 670-1 compliance. If the Soldier refuses, his command team can withhold his pay or even kick him out of the Army.
The same goes for many other aspects of a Soldier’s appearance, down to even very specific items. How does one space their ribbons on their dress uniform? Hold an umbrella? Carry a bag? Cut their hair?
Officers and enlisted Soldiers on active duty, as well as members of the U.S. Army Reserve, are obviously required to follow AR 670-1. But it even applies to college kids who are part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps or who are attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, as well as Veterans and retirees who choose to wear their uniforms for formal events like funerals, ceremonies, national holidays, and parades.
But you don’t have to be in the Army to apply AR 670-1 to your daily apparel. If you are interested in durable gear and equipment that look just like the real thing (well…because they are!) and comply with official regulations, then this article is for you.
Why does the Army need to change the regulation?
The Army is always trying to keep up with the cultural changes affecting the society it serves, not only because this is the right thing to do but because it helps the Army keep its Soldiers and attract new recruits.
For example, a few years ago the Army allowed female Soldiers to wear their hair in dreadlocks, which for African-American women are often much more practical than other styles. The previous standards had been designed primarily with white women in mind.
What’s in the latest update of AR 670-1?
In January 2021, the Army Publishing Directorate (APD) published a new version of AR 670-1, which contains several new revisions. For example:
- It implements the policy on how to wear the new Army Green Service Uniform. This uniform was worn by U.S. Army Soldiers during WWII, and the government wanted to remind American Soldiers of their heritage.
- It clarifies the policy for female Soldiers who are breastfeeding or pumping in uniform; namely, by authorizing them to wear an optional t-shirt specifically for that purpose.
- It provides updated guidance on the carrying of bags and backpacks.
Yes, the Army even cares about the way you wear your backpack! Since it’s often hard to figure out what a block of text in the regulation means, the authors included a lot of specific examples to help Soldiers make sense of all the changes.
Another recent update was ALARACT 40/2021, which allowed female Soldiers to wear a ponytail in not just physical training (PT) uniforms, but in their everyday Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs)! This was another tremendous change for female Soldiers.
The new revisions also changed some terminology to avoid potentially offensive language that had been used in prior versions of the regulation. Like the other updates, this change reflects the commitment of the Army to nurturing and promoting a diverse, fair environment that maximizes retention of top military talent, no matter where it comes from in society.
2021 Official Publication Resource
Army Publishing Directorate – US. Army is the official US Army “library.” Here, you can find any document related to the military of the United States. And the latest “AR 670-1 – Wear and Appearance of Army Uniform and Insignia” is one of them.
Official document resource: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia
Why is AR 670-1 important to the Army? And why should military personnel comply with AR 670-1?
The Army is a profession. A soldier’s appearance measures part of their professionalism.– Department of the Army, 2021. Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. Washington, DC: US Army.
Indeed. For Soldiers, pride is invaluable. And Army uniforms are one way they show their pride and self-discipline to the world. Not only does a squared-away uniform show professionalism and dedication, but Army drill sergeants have used the uniform standards to teach new recruits the crucial skill of “attention to detail” for centuries.
It’s true, many Soldiers feel oppressed by all the rules and regulations, but there is a method behind the madness.
If a Soldier can’t align their awards properly or maintain a clean uniform, how will they keep their buddies safe downrange? In combat, an unclean weapon, a forgotten battery, or an unserviceable boot can mean the difference between life and death, and the uniform standards are one way that Army officers and NCOs teach their Soldiers this valuable lesson.
AR 670-1 In short…
AR 670-1 exists to show Soldiers how to look like Soldiers. It provides comprehensive guidance on how to wear the uniform and how to maintain one’s appearance.
The standards outlined in AR 670-1 change over time to reflect the changing views of what society considers to be appropriate and professional. Just as the Army has implemented the Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention programs to comply with Congressional directives and show the society that they care about the issues their citizens care about, so too, have they updated uniform standards to better align with their values.
Similarly, the Army’s decision to return to the Army Green Service Uniform reflects their desire to connect with the people they devoted their lives to defending.
So, now that you’re hopefully a little smarter on AR 670-1, let’s look at some gear examples available, that can meet your needs while still complying with the official Army regulations.
AR 670-1 compliant gear
Stressed out looking for gear that can outperform standard issue but won’t cause your platoon sergeant to yell at you for being out of regulation?
Wearing footwear not in compliance with AR 670-1 violates the Army’s uniform policy and could earn you a trip to the commander’s office.
When choosing boots, use the checklist below to ensure they are AR 670-1 compliant:
- Plain toe
- Made of tan cowhide leather
- Height between 8 and 10 inches (20.3 – 25.4 cm)
- Outsole Materials: Rubber and polyether polyurethane .
- Boot exterior Material: either full leather or leather with non-mesh fabric
- Tan soling on the upper materials. The soling cannot surpass 2 inches (5 cm) in height from the end of the outsole.
Check out here more AR 670-1 compliant boots that’ll protect every step of your journey in the Army.
Rothco produces combat-tested gear since 1953. They also make T-shirts that fully comply with US Army regulations.
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