OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Army Staff Sgt. William Schaffhauser is on his second tour in South Korea, and the deep snow and icy cold that swept over Pyeongtaek this weekend did not surprise him.

So Schaffhauser is one of many soldiers at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek who welcome the Army’s Generation III Extended Cold Weather Clothing System, a 12-piece set that allows soldiers up to seven different layers, depending upon how cold it is. The Army began issuing it several years ago with priority given to soldiers in or deploying to Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Alaska and South Korea.

Distribution in South Korea began in July.

The system consists of a silkweight undershirt and silkweight bottoms; a grid fleece top and bottom; a fleece jacket; a windshirt, a soft shell jacket and trousers; a rainsuit jacket and trousers; and a loft jacket and pants.

"It’s a lot better and it’s a lot more flexible," said Schaffhauser, 27, brigade training sergeant with the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery. "Different soldiers can wear different layers, as they need it."

Soldiers say the winter underwear is much more comfortable and efficient than the brown polypropylene version they had before, which soldiers said was warm but bulky and itchy, and tended to soak quickly from sweat.

"The base layer wicks away the moisture from your skin a lot better than the old thick brown polypro did," said Schaffhauser.

"Way, way better. Ten times better," said vehicle mechanic Pfc. Krystal Stevenson, 21. "And it’s not so set in stone. You can mix and match uniforms. If you wear this jacket and it gets dirty, you can switch and use the other jacket."

Pfc. D’Shawn Moore likes the whole system, too. With 11 months in the Army, this is his first winter as a soldier.

"It hugs your body, really keeps you warm and you have like different layers," said Moore, 19.

Moore especially likes the green fleece jacket, which has Velcro that allows soldiers to display their name, rank and U.S. Army tags, something they couldn’t do with the black fleece jacket it replaces.

Also popular is the parka-like gray loft coat.

"One of my soldiers called it ‘a sleeping bag with arms,’ " Schaffhauser said.

"It’s nice to have a uniform that you know is going to be warm and still not be so bulky," said Capt. David L. Tervin, the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery’s commander. "It’s very lightweight and practical but very, very warm. … The soldiers have really been taking to it."

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now