The Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) History

The story goes...
In 2002, a member of the Special Operations Forces made a call from a crater in the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan to the SOF Special Projects Team at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass: "Send warm clothing."

Unfortunately for that soldier, but representing quite an achievement by the developers, the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU) was delivered, replacing the Lightweight Environmental Protection (LEP) system less than one year later. PCU is a 16 piece, 7 level clothing system that can be worn "layers-appropriate" for the mission, ranging from -50° to 40°F (-46°to 4°C).

090408-N-3714M-083 KODIAK, Alaska (April 8, 2009) SEAL Qualification Training candidates wade out of the Buskin River after spending five minutes in the near freezing water during a re-warming exercise. Candidates completed the re-warming exercise after spending 48 hours in the Alaskan mountains learning how to navigate through the rugged terrain and survive the frigid conditions. The 28-day cold-weather training course taught in Kodiak is part of a yearlong process to become a U.S. Navy SEAL. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erika N. Manzano/Released) www.navy.mil/

Instead of finding existing military systems as a starting point, Richard Elder from the Special Projects Team looked to COTS (civilian off the shelf) outdoor gear. After taking recommendations from Master Chief Scott Williams and consulting with extreme alpinist Mark Twight, PCU block 0 was born. Adhering to the Berry Amendmant requiring the DoD to give preference to American produced products, Nextec's Epic, and Malden Mills' polar fleece were utilized. ORC Industries produced levels 4, 5 and 6. SEKRI produced levels 1, 2, 3 and 7. Other companies contributing to the military's PCU system include YYK (zippers), Travis (Materials), 3M (insulation and Melody Miller (design). 

Even though there are seven layers in the system, it is not expected that on the coldest day you would wear all 15 items and then shed layers as it got warmer. Instead, PCU is most efficient when items are mixed and matched to cater to the anticipated conditions and activities of the operator.

090408-N-3714M-045 KODIAK, Alaska (April 8, 2009) A cold weather training instructor monitors SEAL Qualification Training candidates while they spend five minutes in near freezing water during a re-warming exercise. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erika N. Manzano/Released) www.navy.mil/

Elder stated that "The key to staying warm is moisture management." The latest Polartec fabrics by Malden Mills insulate and wick moisture away from the skin, while outer garments made with silicone-encapsulated fibers (called Epic by Nextec Applications, Inc.) allow sweat to escape while being highly water and wind-resistant. The idea is to remove moisture faster than you can produce it.

Army Rangers, Marine Force Recon, Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs successfully evaluated the Block 0 uniforms in Alaska in August, 2002. When the Block 1 system was officially fielded in 2006, PCU had been upgraded several times, and a vest was added to the extreme cold level. Any operators in the field between the years of 2002 and 2006 wearing PCU were part of the trial run, and their comments and critiques were incorporated into Block 1.

In 2004 Patagonia introduced their Military Advanced Regulator System (MARS) which includes a number of the PCU levels. They were also rumored to have been the designers behind the current PCU designs.

090406-N-6224W-025 KODIAK, Alaska (April 6, 2009) A SEAL Qualification Training candidate checks the gear of another member of his squad during a long-range land navigation exercise. (U.S. Navy Photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Scott Williams/Released) www.navy.mil/

In July of 2008, ADS and Beyond Tactical announced that they were offering the entire 7-level system in both alpha green and coyote tan in either the complete system or as individual components. On top of providing standard sizing, Beyond Tactical customizes some of the garments to custom fit their customers. ADS also offers a DVD and a pocket guide to describe the PCU components and properly layering the system.

In 2012, Soldier Systems had the opportunity to see the development of the block 2 prototypes and reported on some of the upgrades to the various levels. 

Other companies that have in the past or currently manufacture the various levels of PCU include: Blackhawk! Industries, Insport, PatagoniaPropper, Ready One and Steps Inc.

The 16 garments that make up PCU
1. Crew neck silkweight T-Shirt (lvl1)
2. Silkweight boxer shorts (lvl1)
3. Long-Sleeve top (lvl1)
4. Long underwear (lvl1)
5. Long-Sleeve top (lvl2)
6. Long underwear (lvl2)
7. Mid layer jacket (lvl3)
8. Soft windshirt (lvl4)
9. Softshell top (lvl5)
10. Softshell pant (lvl5)
11. Hardshell top (lvl6)
12. Hardshell pant (lvl6)
13. Insulated coat (lvl7)
14. Insulated pant (lvl7)
15. Insulated vest (lvl7)
16. Combat shirt (lvl9)

Related Articles
PCU buyer's guide

References
http://www.natick.army.mil/about/pao/2004/04-17.htm
http://soldiersystems.net/2008/07/24/pcu-alternate-source-of-supply/
http://soldiersystems.net/2012/01/26/pcu-block-2-preview/
http://www.backpacker.com/august_2003_feature_special_forces_gear_test/articles/6543
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/U.S.+Military's+Special+Operations+Introduces+New+High-Tech+Combat...-a098113043

35 comments:

  1. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked your site to check out the new stuff you post. indumenti per protezione dal calore

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. indumenti per protezione elevate temperature

    ReplyDelete
  3. نحن نمتلك مجموعة من الخبراء والمتخصصين فى شركة تنظيف بابها ونحن نستطيع التعامل مع كافة المساحات المختلفة فلا يهم ان كنت تمتلك منزل او فيلا فأن لدينا خبرات كبيرة تمكنا من تقديم خدماتنا على اكمل وجه ولدينا عمال وفنيين محترفين ولهم خبرات مختلفة نقدم ايضآ تنظيف لواجهات الشركات والفنادق. فكل ما تحتاجه من معدات واجهزة ومنظفات ذات جودة عالمية موجودة بشركتنا فنحن نسعى فقط لارضاء العميل أولآ واخيرآ

    شركة عزل خزانات بخميس مشيط
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بخميس مشيط
    شركة غسيل مجالس بخميس مشيط
    شركة غسيل خزانات المياه بخميس مشيط
    شركة غسيل خزانات بخميس مشيط
    شركة تنظيف شقق بابها

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. Top Northern Virginia Lawyer

    ReplyDelete
  5. فنحن نقوم بكافة أعمال التنظيف للشقق والفلل والقصور نعمل على تنظيف كافة المنزل بداية من الأرضيات سواء كانت بلاط أو سراميك أو رخام و أيضا نقوم بتنظيف فرش الأرضيات سواء موكيت أو سجاد بأكثر من طريقة سواء باستخدام البخار أو بجهاز الرغوة الالية أو باستخدام الفرشاة الاليه. كما نقوم بتنظيف الأثاث بأجود المواد التي لا تؤثر على درجة الالوان أو حالة الأخشاب كما نقوم بتلميع الزجاج ممها بلغ ارتفاعة.

    شركة غسيل موكيت بابها
    شركة عزل خزانات بابها
    شركة تنظيف خزانات المياه بابها
    شركة تنظيف كنب بابها
    شركة رش مبيدات بابها
    شركة رش مبيدات بابها
    شركة مكافحة الحشرات بابها

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mult-Use Style Band Uniforms - Commonly known as a "tux-overlay," this style manages the cost of the school two uniforms. houston embroidery

    ReplyDelete
  7. A portion of the significant brands making leather jackets incorporate Schott, Andrew Marc and Jhane Barnes. yellowstone jacket

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is such an amazing post, how beautifully you explained this is remarkable.
    honeycomeb necklace

    ReplyDelete
  9. Regardless of whether you have had past experience in buying band uniforms, it's consistently fitting to work with experts. Keeping you prompted on latest things in plan, texture use, new highlights, development/fitting strategies and references is just a part of their duty to you and the organization they address. distressed leather jacket

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very good written article. It will be supportive to anyone who utilizes it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts. neak oknha chen zhi cambodia

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is a brilliant blog! I'm very happy with the comments!.. prince holding group

    ReplyDelete
  12. it was a wonderful chance to visit this kind of site and I am happy to know. thank you so much for giving us a chance to have this opportunity.. 團體服製作

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.풀싸롱

    ReplyDelete
  14. I’ve been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this website.
    Thanks, I will try and check back more often. How frequently you update your site?강남안마

    ReplyDelete
  15. Regardless of whether you have had past experience in buying band uniforms, it's consistently fitting to work with experts. Keeping you exhorted on latest things in plan, texture use, new components, development/fitting techniques and references is just a part of their obligation to you and the organization they address. black leather jacket mens

    ReplyDelete
  16. It is to their greatest advantage to serve and survey all your necessities, from plan to conveyance to the fitting of your band uniforms. As such, they offer master counsel beginning to end. Choosing a maker and delegate is a significant part of beginning. leather jackets in germany

    ReplyDelete
  17. On the off chance that the wedding is as yet a couple of months to a year away you can begin now as of now by setting some cash to the side every week/month. This way you will have a decent sum to work with once you are prepared to buy. Remember about including your adornments into the financial plan. kolkata printed kurtis

    ReplyDelete
  18. Regardless of whether you have had past experience in buying band uniforms, it's consistently fitting to work with experts. Keeping you exhorted on latest things in plan, texture utilization, new elements, development/fitting strategies and references is just a piece of their obligation to you and the organization they address. b3 jacket for sale

    ReplyDelete