Earlier this month, the Army’s G-4 released an All Army Activities, or ALARACT, message that lists the fiscal year 2016 clothing bag list for enlisted Soldiers, as well as the dollar amount for the accompanying clothing allowance. For FY16, Soldiers saw an increase of about seven percent for their clothing allowance.
Inside the clothing bag, new additions reflect the Army’s adoption of the Operational Camouflage Pattern.
The “clothing bag” is the name for the set of clothing items issued to Soldiers in basic training. That list of items evolves and changes year-to-year as the needs of the Army change. The clothing bag list is published yearly, and all Soldiers are required throughout their career to maintain in their possession serviceable items that match what is listed in the most current clothing bag list.
New additions to the clothing bag this year include four sets of Army Combat Uniforms, or ACUs, in the Operational Camouflage Pattern, as well as a number of items that match the new color scheme. The total list of new additions is:
— tan riggers belt
— hot-weather combat boots in coyote color
— temperate-weather combat boots in coyote color
— ACU Operational Camouflage Pattern patrol cap
— ACU Operational Camouflage Pattern coat
— ACU Operational Camouflage Pattern trousers
— tan drawers, men’s brief
— lightweight cold weather drawers
— mid-weight cold weather drawers
— black light duty utility glove
— coyote glove inserts
— black glove inserts
— tan moisture-wicking t-shirt
— lightweight undershirt, cold weather
— mid-weight undershirt, cold weather
According to a spokesperson for Army G-4, changes to the clothing bag are made after taking recommendations from a number of sources, including Training and Doctrine Command, Soldier feedback, and limited user evaluations. The recommendations are presented to the Army Uniform Board, and subsequent adoption of new items is first approved by the Army’s chief of staff.
Soldiers in basic training will start getting the new ACU in the Operational Camouflage Pattern later this month. For Soldiers already in the force, they can continue to wear the Universal Camouflage Pattern ACU until Sept. 30, 2019. It’s not until Oct. 1, 2019 – the very next day – that they will be required to both own and wear the Operational Camouflage Pattern ACU.
The male and female clothing bags that are issued in basic training are similar in what they contain. Male Soldiers are issued about 83 items, while female Soldiers are issued about 74 items. Of those, more than 60 are exactly the same.
Differences between the clothing bags are mainly due to clothing items that are designed specifically for either male or female Soldiers. Included in that list are male and female versions of the Army Service Uniform coat, male and female white dress shirts, male and female versions of the Operational Camouflage Pattern ACU, the male neck tie versus the female neck tab, and various dress shoes.
Male Soldiers are issued nine items more than female Soldiers because male Soldiers are issued seven tan underwear briefs as well as two white cotton crew neck T-shirts. Female Soldiers are provided a larger cash allowance to purchase their own undergarments.
Both male and female Soldiers get cash allowances as part of their initial issue of uniforms in basic training. For male Soldiers, that $94.33 cash allowance is meant for them to purchase running shoes and socks for physical training. For female Soldiers, their larger cash allowance of $391.27 allows them to purchase running shoes, physical training socks, underwear, black dress pumps, and a handbag.
To help enlisted Soldiers maintain the items they are required to have, as spelled out in the clothing bag list, the Army provides them with a yearly clothing replacement allowance, or CRA.
For male Soldiers with less than three years of service, their CRA for FY2016 is $327.60 — an increase of about 7.05 percent. For those with more than that time in service, their CRA is $468 — a 7.43 percent increase. For female Soldiers under three years of service, their CRA is $349.20 — a 7.77 percent increase over last year. Female Soldiers beyond the three-year mark will get an annual $496.80 CRA — a 6.97 percent increase over FY2015.
Soldiers are meant to use the yearly CRA stipend to ensure they own all of the items listed in the clothing bag list, and that the items are serviceable. Soldiers are allowed to manage on their own how they use the CRA. The CRA shows up as an untaxed item in a Soldier’s paycheck, annually, on the anniversary month in which the Soldier entered the service.
For Soldiers who are assigned at a duty station where they are required to wear civilian clothing to work, the Army provides an initial civilian clothing allowance of $1,022.40. That clothing allowance is offered to Army officers who serve overseas, and to enlisted Soldiers worldwide.