History of PCU
The story began in 2002 when a call came to Special Operations Forces (SOF) Special Projects Team at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick from a Bomb Crater in Afghanistan. The message is simple, “Send Warm Clothing”. The message came from a member of Special Forces Soldier. The message then followed up by Richard Elder, an equipment specialist on the Special Projects Team and project officer. Instead of looking for the Military solutions for the problem. He develops the system from the scratch and uses the COTS (Civilian off the shelf)outdoor gear as a starting point. And one year later solution for this problem was born.
Under recommendation from Master Chief Scott Williams the former OIC (officer in charge) of the Naval Special Warfare Detachment in Kodiak, Alaska, and consulting with extreme alpinist Mark Twight, they develop an interchangeable clothing system which called PCU or Protective Combat Uniform. They took a year to made this Uniform. That never happened before.
With PCU 7 level designed to be worn in temperatures ranging from 40 deg to -50 deg F. The PCU will replace the existing Lightweight Environmental Protection (LEP)developed under the Special Operations Forces Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR), a program to produce modular equipment systems that focus on mission tailoring, enhanced survivability, and enhanced mobility while reducing weight, bulk and heat stress.
PCU Block 0 was evaluated and approved it's usability in 2002 by Navy Seals, Marine Force Recon, Army Special Forces and NAVY Seals in Alaska, 2002. Since then the PCU has evaluated and upgraded many times. In 2006 the PCU Block 1 released as a result of field comments and critiques from 2002 - 2006. The PCU system goal is to stabilize body temperature. This system doesn’t require to be fitted all in once on extreme condition. PCU use a mixed system that has an ability in certain weather condition. 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 by Nextec Applications, Inc. allow sweat to escape while being highly water and wind-resistant.
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.
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.
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.
Companies that contributing in the making of the PCU :
- ORC Industry ( produce the level 4,5 and 6 )
- SEKRI ( produce level 1,2,3 and 7 )
- YYK ( zippers )
- Travis ( Materials )
- 3M ( Insulation )
- Melody Miller ( Design )