Can You Pass This Quiz About the Army’s Uniform Standards?


By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / DigitalVision / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Everyone knows the military is big on rules and standards. It's an important part of making soldiers feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves. They need to adhere to the same rules as everyone else, to see the discipline in action and understand everyone is subject to the same code of conduct. 

In order to achieve a universal standard that every soldier can learn and understand, the Army has a ton of rules.  Those rules cover everything, including acceptable behavior while on duty, training, rules of engagement and of course how to wear your uniform. Your appearance reflects your position as a soldier, and as such must be professional no matter the circumstance. There's a lot to learn, but that's par for the course for being a soldier.

Army regulations will cover everything from how to press your uniform to how to wear your medals and even how to trim your fingernails. Nothing is left up to chance. When in doubt, consult the regulations or ask a commanding officer. There is nothing that doesn't have an answer. If you think you have a good handle on how Army uniform standards, there's one surefire way to prove it. Polish those boots and take this quiz, prove you know your stuff. 

What is the name of the regulation that covers the wear and appearance of uniforms and insignia?

Army Regulation 670-1 covers the wear and appearance of uniforms and insignia. You can view it in full on the Army website as a 75-page long pdf file. It was last updated in 2017. The info in it covers male and female soldiers as well as every kind of uniform you could possibly wear while on duty.


The Army issues something called an IPFU. What does that stand for?

The Improved Physical Fitness Uniform is essentially workout clothes for soldiers. Soldiers are permitted to wear these in combination with civilian clothes off the base, and the components consist of running pants or shorts, moisture-wicking shirts, a jacket, and a hat.


How many years are represented by one service stripe?

Service stripes or hash marks are the embroidered stripes worn on the sleeves of army uniforms. In the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, these stripes represent four years of service, while in the Army they represent three.


What is the acronym for the uniform that is designed for wear in freezing temperatures?

ECWCS stands for "extreme cold weather clothing system" and is designed for temperatures that range for 40 Fahrenheit all the way down to -60. It was developed in the 1980s and consisted of a number of winter items including a parka and mittens.


Army regulations even cover who can have an exposed pen in their breast pocket. Which one of these uniforms are allowed to bear pens?

Generally speaking, a pen is not a part of any standard Army uniform. That said, certain roles require that you carry a pen for your duties. One of those is in a hospital, so a hospital duty uniform is permitted to have pens in the pocket.


Are you allowed to give a public speech wearing your military uniform?

Public speeches, marches, picket lines, rallies and public demonstrations all require authorization from further up the chain of command if you want to participate in them while wearing your uniform.


What's a circumstance in which you would not be required to wear any kind of headgear?

There are a number of circumstances under which you don't need to hear any kind of headgear including at social events, on private transportation like a bicycle or on public transportation like a bus or the subway.


Your IPFU shirt is supposed to be tucked into your trunks at all times. What's the exception to that rule?

Regulations require that the shirt portion of the improved physical fitness uniform be tucked into your trunks or pants at all times. That said, if a soldier is pregnant this regulation will not apply.


An Army uniform has a lifespan of wear. How long are you expected to wear an Army Combat Uniform?

Your Army Combat Uniform has a lifetime of 6 months. This is the same as a uniform like the Enhanced Hot Weather Battle Dress Uniform. After that time, the uniform should be retired and replaced with a new one.


What was the code name of the Operational Camouflage Pattern?

Scorpion 2 was the code name for the operational camouflage pattern that became the go-to camo pattern for the US Army in the mid-2010s. It is currently the main camouflage pattern for army uniforms.


Do military uniform standards allow you to sport a goatee?

Facial hair, in general, is limited strictly to mustaches which must be trimmed and not extend past the edges of your lips. Goatees are not permitted, nor are other styles of facial hair unless for religious or medical reasons. In fact, the guidelines specifically prohibit "Fu Manchu" mustaches by name.


How long are your sideburns allowed to be, according to regulations?

If you're going to sport some sideburns, they can't extend below the hole of your ear. They must also be kept neatly trimmed and not look bushy in any way. They should end neatly with a solid, horizontal line.


What is the regulation regarding a male soldier's fingernails?

Fingernails are required to be clean at all times and can't extend past the fingertip for males. Men can also not wear polish. Females are allowed to have nails at 1/4 inch in length.


Is a soldier allowed to use hair dye?

Hair dyes and tints are allowed for soldiers, but only if the resulting hair color is natural looking. It will be up to the discretion of a commanding officer to determine if the hair meets those standards. A color like purple is obviously a no-go.


Under what circumstances can a solider wear a wig while in uniform?

Wigs and hairpieces are only allowed for a good reason. Those reasons include covering natural baldness as well as scars from surgeries or accidents. You cannot wear a wig just for kicks.


Under what circumstances can a female soldier wear fake eyelashes?

Eyelash extensions are prohibited except if they have been medically prescribed. Medically prescribed reasons would be any instances when a soldier had suffered hair loss, such as from chemotherapy.


What does SSI-FWTS stand for?

Shoulder sleeve insignia-former wartime service is also known as the Army combat patch. It recognizes a soldier's participation in combat and there are varying standards for how it should be worn.


How many pieces are in the male dress uniform?

The male dress uniform has 10 pieces. They are a coat, trousers, shirt, necktie, undergarments, belt, headgear, footwear, socks and undershirt. Depending on the situation, not all items are necessary.


What is the Army's regulation with regard to pockets in your uniform?

According to regulations, while in uniform you can only place your hands in your pockets momentarily to retrieve an item. Any buttons need to be polished and free from scratches as well.


What kind of behavior is prohibited when you are walking while in uniform?

Soldiers in uniform are not permitted to do any activities whole walking that will interfere with their ability to salute or detract from their professional image. This includes eating, smoking or using a cellphone, among other things.


Which of these is an actual standard for how a soldier must keep their teeth?

Oddly enough, there are a number of dental regulations in the uniform code. Soldiers can't have decorations on their teeth like jewels or initials. They also can't have gold or platinum caps. Finally, you can't shape your teeth, meaning no fangs for you.


According to regulations, what is the one kind of facial tattoo that is permitted?

There are strict regulations regarding the kinds of tattoos a soldier can have and also where they can have them. When it comes to the face, there is only one kind of tattoo permitted and that is permanent makeup, which still must meet standards of good taste.


Who would wear an insignia featuring two crossed gold-colored pistols?

Officers in the military police corps wear insignia featuring two crossed gold pistols. Enlisted personnel will wear the same insignia on a small, 1-inch gold-colored metal disk.


What kind of officer has 3 stars on their shoulder strap?

You can identify a general by the stars on their shoulders. Four stars is a general, three stars is a lieutenant general, two is a major general and one is a brigadier general.


Where should the US flag be worn on Army utility uniforms?

The US flag is to be worn on the right shoulder pocket flap of the utility uniform. On uniforms without pocket flaps, the flag insignia is worn on the uppermost section of the hook-and-loop-faced pad with the top of the insignia at the top of the pad.


What are the branch colors of the Army Corps of Engineers?

Every branch of the army has their own colors used for insignia and various emblems. The Army Corps of Engineers use the colors scarlet and white.


What medal is meant to be worn around the neck, outside the shirt collar and inside the coat collar, above the tie?

While most medals can be worn on the uniform on the chest, the medal of honor is worn on a ribbon around the neck. Any other medals worn around the neck are to be worn under the Medal of Honor.


This is the lowest rank that a shoulder board comes in.

Shoulder boards cover ranks all the way up to sergeant major as well as officer ranks. The starting rank where you'll see shoulder boards is corporal.


What kind of uniform does a soldier who drives a tank wear?

The combat vehicle crewman's uniform is also known as a tanker's uniform. It's quite a bit different from a standard uniform, as it includes a coverall and a vest. It's also made of flame-resistant materials.


How far above the eyes should the band of the beret be worn?

The headband of your beret needs to be worn one inch above the eyebrows. It should be a straight line across the forehead. The excess material should be worn draped over the right ear, and your hair should be short enough that the hat doesn't look misshapen when worn.


What is the difference between how a belt is worn on a male class A uniform and a female class A uniform?

When a male wears a belt, the tab should be pulled across to their left and for a female, it is the opposite. There is no regulation regarding a difference in belt width between men and women.


What method of carrying a gym bag is prohibited by uniform standards?

Backpacks are allowed to be worn, as are gym bags over one shoulder. A bag cannot be worn over the shoulder so that the strap is diagonal across the body, however.


How many boots should a soldier have?

Soldiers should have three pairs of boots in their possession for their combat uniform. Two pairs should be hot weather and one pair should be temperate weather. They should be tan or coyote leather.


What style of a knot is acceptable for your service uniform tie?

When wearing your tie with your service uniform, it should be only black and the material can be either silk or satin. It can be tied in a Windsor know, a half-Windsor or a four-in-hand knot.


If you're wearing a hat as part of the physical fitness uniform, can it cover your ears in the cold weather?

Hats are a permitted part of the physical fitness uniform. It has to be made from black fleece, and in cold weather, it can cover the tops of your ears. However, it can't be pulled down below your eyebrows.


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