UK Armed Forces will soon be issued with a new clothing system to replace Combat Soldier 95 (CS95)
The original programme to replace CS95 was called Personal Equipment and Common Operational Clothing (PECOC) and this has now evolved into Personal Clothing System (PCS)
PECOC had a wide scope, clothing, personal equipment, load carriage and protection. Instead of maintaining a monolithic programme, the MoD decided to spin out the clothing elements, under PCS and the load carriage and protection elements under Project VIRTUS.
The PCS consists of combat uniform (CU), ancillary items (AI) and waterproof clothing.
Combat uniform replaces the camouflage lightweight jacket, trousers and windproof smock while ancillary items and waterproofs replace the t-shirt, Norwegian shirt, fleece and waterproofs of the current CS95 system.
All camouflage items will be in Multi-Terrain Pattern (MTP) and other items will be in Khaki.
Since the introduction of CS95 in 1995, combat body armour has now become mandatory wear for personnel both training for and deploying on operations. As a result, while the principles of CS95 still apply, the design of the clothing items needs refreshing to reflect the changes and lessons learnt from operations.
This also allows changes resulting from developments in material technology to be incorporated. All camouflage clothing items will also change to MTP camouflage. Combat footwear is not part of the PCS but a separate competition to replace the combat assault boot is underway, allowing delivery in 2012.
MTP camouflage, introduced for operations in April 2010, incorporates elements of Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) shapes to create a unique British camouflage that will replace both Woodland and Desert DPM for use in training and on operations. While the Woodland and Desert camouflages are very good in their very specific environments, MTP is the best-performing across the widest range of environments, while only being marginally less effective than Woodland and Desert DPM in those areas.
MTP will be controlled to ensure it is only available for military issue; it will not be released for the manufacture of items for commercial sale.
The design principles of CS95 as a layered system of clothing allowing flexibility for temperature regulation remain extant. This has been retained in the PCS; however, it recognises the increased requirements for protection, both in the integration with body armour and incorporation of extremity protection and fittings for potential combat identification systems.
The PCS consists of three distinct elements that will be delivered separately.
The MTP camouflage outer layers consist of:
• Lightweight Jacket. A shirt that can be worn over a thermal or sweat-wicking layer. It can be worn either tucked into trousers or loose depending on environmental conditions.
In order to allow body armour to be worn over the top (in temperate conditions) buttons have been removed and replaced with Velcro and a zip. Chest bellows pockets have been replaced with map pockets with pen and notebook/compass stowage.
Bicep bellows pockets have been added to arms to allow stowage of ready access items when body armour is worn. In addition, pockets have been added to the outside forearms and elbows to allow for additional fragmentation/bump protection to be fitted if required.
The collar can be secured up when wearing body armour to reduce chafing. The bicep pockets have ‘touch and close’ panels to allow combat ID badges to be fitted if required.
A blanking plate protects the touch and close fastening while also allowing non-tactical badges (eg tactical recognition flashes) to be fitted while being removable in the field.
• Combat trousers. Thigh map pockets have been angled to allow easier access. A secure pocket has been added to waist pockets to allow stowage of small items. The draw cord has been removed. A seat panel has been added to reduce wear in the crotch. Map-pocket buttons have been shrouded to reduce snag hazards.
• Windproof smock. The design of the existing windproof smock has been retained as an outer garment principally for when body armour is not being worn. A mesh drop liner and armpit vents have been added to help with thermal regulation.
Buttons have been shrouded to reduce snag hazards. Behind the waist pockets, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets have been added. The windproof smock incorporates the same bicep pockets as the lightweight jacket.
• Rank slides. No change to the current design. Only low-contrast, all-arms rank slides are to be worn on MTP. Regimental/high contrast rank slides for wear in camp are to be on plain/regimental backgrounds.
• Helmet covers. No change to the existing range of helmet cover design, although an update is in development.
Ancillary items will include insulation and sweat-wicking layers, consisting of:
• T-shirt. Base layer, providing both thermal insulation and sweat-wicking. Based upon the current operational hot-weather t-shirt.
• Underwear. Sweat-wicking, anti-microbial unisex undershorts based upon the existing operational underwear.
• Thermal shirt. A micro-fleece base layer shirt with zippered collar (replacing the CS95 Norwegian shirt).
• Thermal smock. A micro-fleece-lined mid-layer, with windproof and showerproof outer, to provide increased insulation under the windproof smock (replaces the CS95 fleece).
• Under Body Armour Combat Shirt (UBACS). A sweat-wicking torso with lightweight jacket sleeves and a zippered neck for wear under body armour in hot weather environments.
Various different designs of waterproof garments are currently being assessed as part of the ongoing development of the PCS with an expected fielding date of 2012. All items will be in MTP.
A review of the need for specific female designs is underway and results will be trialled accordingly. These will be rolled out separately once designs have been finalised.
Units will change to the new CU over three years from Spring 2011 in accordance with FLC fielding plans. In order to control expenditure, task issues to units will be spread over three financial years before units will be allowed to demand items directly. Issuing to recruits will begin in the second half of 2011. Unit CS95 stocks will be withdrawn and reissued to units later in the fielding plan to minimise waste.
Ancillary items will be available for issue from mid-2011. They will be issued in bulk to recruits along with issues of CU. Personnel previously issued with CS95 will only receive the new ancillary items for operations or to replace CS95 equivalent items that have worn out. Current CS95 ancillary items are fully compatible with the PCS CU and will remain in use as long as stocks are available.
Hot weather CU and ancillary items will be issued to personnel deploying on Op HERRICK 15 and to other operations or overseas training exercises from mid-2011. Hot weather clothing will be of the same design as the temperate combat uniform but in a lightweight, breathable cloth.
Because of the staged introduction, 3 years, expect lots of mixed dress and bartering!
The MoD has done a good job here; pulling together the different strands of UOR and the main Equipment Plan to create what looks like a very good system. No doubt squaddies will moan and groan, it is after all that they are supposed to do, but the extensive trials, roadshows, operational evaluation and feedback methods employed on the PECOC programme which has informed PCS should ensure any gripes are minor.
There is no doubt the old MoD ghosts of crap clothing, boots, body armour and helmets are about to be firmly laid to rest.