After 18 months of testing and operational user feedback, production has begun on the Enhanced Combat Uniform for Canadian soldiers.

This product improvement to the combat uniforms includes more than 20 changes which will allow for greater comfort, enhanced protection and greater integration with personal protective equipment, allowing soldiers to more effectively train and perform their duties while deployed.

Some of the major changes are:

  • a flexible Mandarin-style collar;
  • integrated soft kneepads;
  • flat pockets and zippers to avoid pressure points;
  • an action-back for increased range of motion; and
  • a flexible waist for improved fit.

“The uniforms are better integrated with the rest of the combat equipment while increasing comfort and providing greater wearing options adaptable to the environment a soldier is deployed in,” says Major Stéphane Dufour of the Director of Land Requirements’ Soldier Systems Requirements section. For example, the integrated soft knee pads provide protection in and outside a vehicle. The flat chest pocket style also removes any pressure points while wearing ballistic protection and fragmentation vests.

According to Maj Dufour, these enhancements are the “most radical combat uniform change since the 1970s,” and are based on both feedback from soldiers and the last ten years of combat operations in Afghanistan. The enhancements improve comfort, protection, fit and overall operational effectiveness.

The uniforms will continue to use the Canadian Disruptive Pattern, known as CADPAT, which allows soldiers to blend in better with the field environment.

Under the current distribution plan, deployed soldiers will be the first to receive the uniforms, with a priority also being placed on filling the most critical sizing shortages within the Canadian Forces. Staggered production and distribution allows the Army to evaluate and adjust the uniforms over a longer period of time.

“The idea is to do regular but smaller uniform buys so that we can improve it each time we buy more, compared to one big buy that will last us 20 years. Getting it in batches will allow us to make new improvements based on feedback we get,” says Maj Dufour.

Initially, 45,000 uniforms, valued at $8.5 million, will be manufactured by Winnipeg-based Peerless Garments using the Temperate Woodland Canadian Disruptive Pattern. The contract has the option to manufacture additional trousers and jackets in this pattern or in the Arid Canadian Disruptive Pattern as required.

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Article by Ryan Ferrara, Army Public Affairs, Ottawa

Photos by MCpl Steve Bogue

Copyright Department of National Defence 2013