The Army Service Uniform

For a lot of soldiers, the  (ASU) hangs in the closet most of the time, worn just once or twice a year. Say you’ve been deployed down range. You passed through your E-5 promotion board, “field style,” wearing your cleanest pair of MultiCamsbut you didn’t have to worry about preparing a set of ASUs. 

Fast forward twelve months. Now you’re in garrison, and suddenly you need your ASUs for a ceremony. You dig through a box and pull out the same pair issued to you at Fort Benning three years ago. Luckily, they still fit. But your trousers are for a junior enlisted soldier, not a newly pinned noncommissioned officer, and your commander wants medals worn, not a ribbon rack.  

Here at The Salute, we deal with situations like this every day. In this article, we offer a checklist for commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers, and junior enlisted to keep you squared away.

Getting Started with the Army Service Uniform
The ASU is designed to be straightforward yet elegant. It’s modular, meaning it can be adjusted depending on the formality of the occasion. For example, you can interchange a ribbon slide with medals, while still retaining the same basic foundation. It comes in two forms, “Class A” with a jacket and “Class B,” short- or long-sleeve shirt. There is also an optional and very formal “Mess” uniform, in blue or white. Lastly, female soldiers have the option of trousers or a skirt, the wearing of which may be determined by a commander or required for an event.

Army Service Uniform Checklist
Here are some basic items we recommend that every soldier keep on hand. Remember, you can always build from here as your career progresses.


Jacket and trousers and skirt: We recommend female soldiers keep one of each on hand.
  • Headgear: This goes without saying, but we’ve highlighted differences in the Officer and Enlisted sections below.
  • Combat service: Combat service identification badge and overseas service bars.
  • Belt: At a minimum, keep a cotton belt and brass buckle.
  • Ties: Clip-ons are available, but it doesn’t hurt to learn to tie a tie.  Also, always keep a bow tie.
  • Footwear: High-gloss oxfords are OK, but leather shoes go the extra mile, especially if you’re preparing for a board. Leather jump boots are permitted if your unit is on jump status. Note: female soldiers may wear leather pumps only with a skirt . However, high-gloss pumps may be worn with a skirt or slacks.
  • Regalia: Badges, unit crests, nameplate, and finished ribbon slide.

Commissioned and Warrant Officers
Inspirations for today’s ASU were drawn from early American uniforms—the Revolutionary War, as well as the Civil War. Commissioned Officers, for example, wear shoulder straps similar to those on Union Army uniforms. Officers always wear a service cap unless their unit of assignment is on jump status, in which case a beret is permitted.

  • Service cap: Have one handy even if you’re on jump status.
  • Accessories: Shoulder straps, branch insignia, and branch “U.S.” Collar devices.
  • Trousers and skirts: Trousers must have a gold stripe. Skirts do not come with one.
  • Medals:  Keep a medal rack in addition to your ribbon slide.

Though largely similar, there are a few important differences in ASU requirements between NCOs and junior enlisted.

  • Headgear: All NCOs corporals and above are permitted to wear service caps instead of berets. Junior enlisted wear berets. If you’re a NCO, we recommend you keep one service cap on hand.
  • Trousers: NCOs wear trousers with a gold stripe, junior enlisted wear trousers with no stripe.
  • Ribbons: It’s especially important that NCOs keep both a ribbon slide and a medal rack on hand. You’ll be required to wear your dress uniforms with greater frequency as you move up in rank, so it’s important to be prepared for any event.

As a soldier, you take great pride in your appearance. And keeping your Army Service Uniform updated will help ensure that you stay squared away and prepared for any situation that may present itself.  Keep this checklist posted on the inside of your closet or wall locker and stay on the lookout for more uniform tips and information here at The Salute Uniforms.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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