My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 10, 2021

New uniforms coming soon

By Hayes Davis, Coast Guard Military Uniforms

We’ve all heard the rumors, some of us have seen the pictures. New operational uniforms – the Coast Guard working uniform (CGWU) – are coming soon! How soon, you ask? Roll out is tracking for the end of fiscal year 2023. 

About the transition
Officially, the new CGWU will be available to the entire workforce in the later part of fiscal year 2023, and expected to completely replace the operational dress uniform (ODU) in fiscal year 2025. Once available, you can expect to see the new CGWU in Coast Guard Exchanges – or by placing an order at ShopCGX. Bottom line, if you have just purchased new ODUs – don’t stress. Both sets of uniforms have a service life of about three years. By the time you are ready for an updated uniform, the new CGWUs should be available for your uniform transition.  

Enlisted members should see an adjustment to their clothing monthly allowance (CMA) starting in fiscal year 2022 to help cover the new uniform cost. This will allow you to be paid the replacement value ahead of the new uniform being available and required. 

What are we switching to?

For more than 10 years, our members who have been assigned to some Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE) positions, Port Security Units (PSU), and joint overseas operations have worn the Navy’s Expeditionary Working Uniform (NWU Type III).

Using these uniforms in these particular environments has demonstrated that this type of uniform is perfect for all Coast Guard missions. We’ve received positive feedback on those who have tested the Navy Type III uniform, and it makes sense for the Coast Guard to adopt that uniform overall as our new operational uniform. 

A little bit about the uniform

There are a number of exciting benefits to the new Type III uniform you can expect: 

  • The Mandarin collar – allows for quick assimilation to General Quarters/Battle conditions;
  • Rank tab – allows for easy replacement of rank upon promotion/advancement without requiring uniform replacement or tailoring;
  • Additional pocket;
  • Self-blousing trousers;
  • Organizational patches for quick service identification.

We believe there are a lot of benefits to switching to this particular uniform. Specifically, when we are able to use a uniform pattern that our sister service is already using, our production costs are reduced passing those savings down to you – the member and consumer.  

Sizing

The new CGWU is a non-gender specific uniform, unlike the odd/even sizing convention for the operational dress uniform (ODU) blouse, which historically has been confusing to our service population. Blouses are sized by chest measurement and shirt length and trousers are sized by waist and inseam measurements. In order to know what your size is, take a moment to measure yourself, or ask a friend to assist.

Implementation time line

Officially, the new CGWU received development approval the end of 2019. There was extensive coordination between Military Uniforms (PSC-PSD-MU) and the Navy about the Coast Guard adopting the NWU Type III pattern. After negotiating details on everything from color, contracting, and sustainment activities, an agreement was reached for the Coast Guard to transition to the CGWU. From there, it looked like the new uniform would be making its way out to the fleet at the end of fiscal year 2022. 

……Then a world-wide pandemic hit. 

Almost immediately, the pandemic had significant impacts to the U.S. Textile and Industrial Base. Most U.S. production shut down. Manufacturing plants shut down because COVID-19 was affecting large populations of the skilled labor force. When manufacturing was able to restart at a lower capacity (30% of pre-COVID-19 levels), manufacturers shifted to PPE production to support the U.S. need. Garment manufacturing ceased for over a year and has slowly returned to near normal production.  However, a tremendous production back-log of current contracts had to be satisfied first. 

The Coast Guard’s uniform contracts were updated in August 2021 following even more coordination with the Navy and Defense Logistics Agency and we are back on track heading in the right direction. We can now expect to see the new uniform reach our accession points – recruit trainees, Academy cadets, officer candidates, and direct commissions– beginning the first quarter of fiscal year 2023. After that, the rest of the fleet can expect to be able to purchase the new CGWU later in fiscal year 2023. 

More information to come in the coming months. Stay tuned to MyCG for uniform updates.