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Maj. Keith Gafford, a program manager in the Army’s logistics branch (G-4), finds as many “back order” signs as he does jackets and pants among the woodland temperate and enhanced hot weather BDUs at the Military Clothing Sales store in the Pentagon.
Maj. Keith Gafford, a program manager in the Army’s logistics branch (G-4), finds as many “back order” signs as he does jackets and pants among the woodland temperate and enhanced hot weather BDUs at the Military Clothing Sales store in the Pentagon. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Military Clothing Sales customers looking for battle dress uniforms are noticing sparse pickings lately, and the shortages are going to last through the end of the summer, according to Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials.

Army and Air Force clothing stores worldwide are out of stock on various sizes of both the enhanced hot weather and temperate BDU coats and trousers, AAFES officials said.

The shortages are happening because in “order to support the tremendous increase in desert requirements as a result of the war in Iraq,” BDU makers have had to switch their production from sewing woodland gear to the tan-and-brown version, Maj. Rachel Danielson, AAFES’ Army program manager for military clothing sales, said in a Wednesday e-mail response to questions from Stripes.

The BDUs are on back order with the Pentagon’s Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia, AAFES spokesman Judd Anstey said in a Monday telephone interview.

But back orders are all AAFES can do to solve the problem, because DSCP is the Army and Air Force’s only authorized supplier, Anstey said. That means AAFES can’t just go out and find an alternate manufacturer to make up the shortfall, he said.

“All we can do is monitor the situation,” and constantly check on the status of the back orders with the DSCP, Anstey said.

With just one source, first priority for the existing supply is going to going to two groups: military personnel involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and recruit induction centers, because they need their first uniforms.

So while troops in Iraq should be getting their BDUs as needed, troops hitting Clothing Sales in preparation to deploy may have problems finding them, according to Danielson.

“If the troops are deployed, they will not notice the shortage until they return to home station and require replacement or additional BDUs,” Danielson wrote. “Troops preparing to deploy may require BDUs and therefore they will notice the shortage.”

This is the second time in recent years that AAFES customers have had problems finding BDUs in the stores, AAFES officials said.

“The months after Sept. 11 [also] had tremendous impact on demand,” Danielson wrote.

Danielson said she could not quantify the current shortage.

“However, we sell approximately 19,000 Temperate BDUs a month and a not-in-stock status has a negative impact on our customers,” she wrote.

The shortage is also “impacting all sizes,” Danielson said, although she noted that “our high-demand sizes are the Medium/Regulars,” so there are more of those customers to experience the shortfall.

The BDU item customers Clothing Sales customers are now having the most trouble finding is the temperate trouser, AAFES officials said.

DSCP doesn’t expect the shortages on those pants to ease until August, Anstey said, although the center will begin a “significant increase in deliveries starting in April.”

The enhanced hot weather coats and trousers, meanwhile, should be getting easier to find “soon,” because DSCP recently sent all of its back orders out to the stores, he said.

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