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ARLINGTON, Va. — The last day the Army’s iconic woodland and desert-patterned battle dress uniforms can officially be worn by a soldier is April 30, according to a recent decision by the Army’s top personnel official.

Hundreds of millions of Americans associate the dark-green pattern with the Army that fought the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the pale sand version with the force that defeated Saddam Hussein during Operation Desert Storm.

But earlier this week, 27 years after its introduction, Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, set the final “wear-out” date for the BDU for April 30 for both active-duty and reserve-component soldiers.

Also set to expire April 30 are the items that go with the BDUs: brown T-shirts; black combat boots; green-and-black jungle boots; woodland and desert-camouflage caps; olive-drab-green name and U.S. Army tapes; subdued olive-green shoulder-sleeve insignias; black rigger belts; and web belts with open-faced black buckle.

The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps wear-out date for these items is April 9.

Black-knit caps and black microfleece knit caps can be worn along with cold-weather, woodland-camouflage field jackets until Sept. 30, according to a news release on the wear-out date.

The replacement for the BDU is the digital-patterned Army Combat Uniform, or ACU, which the Army debuted June 14, 2004.

The first available ACUs went to troops headed for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the newly reorganizing Brigade Combat Teams getting second dibs back at home station.

By December 2007, the ACU was fielded to the entire Army.

That left Rochelle with the final task of setting an official BDU sunset, and getting the word out to those few individuals still wearing the old uniform.

The Army has not officially tallied how many soldiers are still wearing their BDUs, although they are “hard to find,” the release said.

Wherever they are, the soldiers are free to keep their BDUs for posterity: the Army is not requiring personnel to turn in the old uniforms.


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