Explained: different model, better material – what’s new in the new Indian Army combat uniform


Since 1949, 15th January has been celebrated as Army Day every year, to mark the day when General KM Cariappa, who later became Field Marshal, took over as the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army to General FR Roy Bucher.

During Saturday’s celebrations, which also included a parade and a speech by the Chief of Army, General MM Naravane, the Indian Army’s new combat uniform was unveiled.

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The new uniform will be made available in a phased manner to the approximately 12 lakh personnel of the Indian Army.

Why is an army uniform important?

Uniforms are one of the most distinctive identifying features of any military force. The uniform not only differentiates civilians from military personnel and between personnel of different armies, it also engenders unity, conformity and discipline among personnel.

The new uniform was unveiled with the soldiers of the elite Parachute Regiment marching on Army Day.

How is the new uniform different from the old army uniform?

The main changes to the new uniform, compared to the old one used since 2008, relate to the camouflage pattern, the design and the use of new material.

While the new unique camouflage pattern retains the same color combination – olive green and earth shades – the pattern is now digital. It was designed with the many types of operational conditions soldiers operate in in mind, from deserts and high altitude areas to jungles and plains.

How is the fabric used in the new uniform different?

This is the other significant change in the uniform. The fabric of the new material makes it lighter, more robust, more breathable and more suitable for the different terrains in which the soldiers are stationed.

The cotton to polyester ratio is 70:30 making it faster to dry, more comfortable to wear in humid and hot conditions, and lightweight.

According to the military, it is a next-generation camouflage combat uniform that is ergonomic and operationally efficient. The fabric is 15% lighter and 23% more tear-resistant than the current uniform.

Ergonomic features allow for long-lasting use and comfort, and micro-features are integrated for wearer use in field conditions.

What about the components and style of the uniform?

The new uniform, unlike the old one, has a combat t-shirt underneath and a shirt over it. Also, unlike the old uniform, the shirt will not be tucked in.

The “jacket”, as the shirt is called, has angular upper pockets, lower pockets with vertical openings, box pleats at the back, a pocket on the left sleeve, a pen holder on the left forearm and improved quality buttons.

The pants will be adjustable at the waist with elastic and buttons, and will have a double layer at the groin.

For caps, the circumference will be adjustable, and the Army logo will be of higher quality than before.

For the first time, a modified version of the uniform was developed taking into account the specific requirements of female officers and army troops.

Who designed the uniform and who chose it for the army?

The design process, although finalized by Army Chief General Naravane, was initiated before General Naravane took over in January 2020. However, once a few designs were shortlisted, the choice was ultimately a collective decision by army commanders.

Designed by a 12-person team from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), which included seven faculty, three students and two alumni, the uniform was created through a consultative process with the military, in keeping the “4Cs” in mind – comfort, climate, camouflage and privacy.

The fabric was selected from five options curated specifically for the military by NIFT, and the finalized pattern was one of 17 specially designed options.

Domain-specific experts for fabrics, camouflage patterns and designs were engaged and prototypes were prepared through an ongoing consultation process.

Will the uniform be available in markets nationwide?

While all armies update their uniforms over time, one of the factors that led to this change was the easy availability of current army combat fabric across the country. Soldiers could get the fabric and simply have the uniform sewn.

To control random overgrowth, the new uniform will come in over a dozen pre-sewn standard sizes. Uniforms will be barcoded and QR-coded to maintain their uniqueness, and will only be available through the Artillery Chain or Military Canteens.

The army will issue tenders for private and public companies to manufacture the uniforms, and the uniforms will be distributed to personnel in a phased manner.

Do all army uniforms change?

No. It should be noted that only the combat uniform has been changed. The Army has several uniforms, including olive greens, as it is called, for peace zone assignments and ceremonial uniforms.


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