The distinctive look of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) begins at the unit’s Central Issuing Facility (CIF).
Each Soldier’s uniform is individually tailored so they look their best representing the U.S. Army to the nation and the world.
Every Wednesday, Soldiers E1-E6 attend CIF during their first week of the Regimental Orientation Program (ROP).
CIF also issues the organizational clothing and equipment that Soldiers will take into the field, said Elbert W. Jones, a retired Vietnam veteran who served in the Army for 21-years, and works as a supply technician at the CIF.
Many Soldiers are not only new to The Old Guard, but straight out of advanced training or one stop unit training (infantry).
The equipment is called “TA-50”. TA-50 is an Army acronym for Table of Allowances 50. It encompasses Army-issued individual equipment.
A large-scale distribution of over $6,000 worth of TA-50 and ceremonial uniforms requires a lot of organization and planning, both of which are easily handled by the staff at CIF.
“All the supply techs here are highly familiar with it, they do it every Wednesday,” said Jones. ROP instructors also help the process run smoothly.
“We get to inform them (Soldiers) at the beginning of their time here at The Old Guard of what they’ll be preparing for with the uniforms and the TA-50,” Garrick R. Sanders, a ROP instructor that accompanies new Soldiers to CIF.
“You have some top-notch personnel working here,” said Jones. “We have some supply techs that I admire. They know what they are doing in here.”
These newly minted service members get to ROP early in their physical training uniform and begin the daylong process.
Soldiers are generally very responsible with their equipment and rarely lose high-dollar value items, said Jones.
ROP classes can contain as many as 25 Soldiers at a time. The batch of new Soldiers today is 13 infantry (11b) Soldiers.
After taking attendance, supply clerks have the Soldiers single file to a 30 foot long counter.
On the counter sits canteens, sleeping mats and poncho liners (known under the pseudonym “woobie”) for each Soldier.
Then 10 Soldiers at a time are brought to the counter and asked to inventory and pack their items.
Everything is annotated on a clothing record that will serve as proof the Soldier received the equipment. Every item, from a plate carrier to a trench shovel, will be inspected, logged and signed for by the Soldier.
Once the equipment is distributed, Soldiers are then ushered to the ceremonial equipment side.
Supply technician Katherine M. Gross helps distribute the ceremonial equipment beginning with non-sized items like suspenders, garment bags and ceremonial belts.
Gross has been working at CIF for 8 years. She works as a supply technician and previously performed alterations.
Next, Soldiers try on the handmade shoes The Old Guard wears. If stocks in that Soldier’s size are depleted, they are given a “due-out” and will be notified when the shoes are available.
Ceremonial caps, dress shirts and the winter weather cap (tropper cap) are all sized and approved by the ROP instructor that accompanies the class to CIF.
The next phase begins with Soldiers trying on the wool suit jackets (blouses), overcoats and pants that constitute The Old Guard’s Uniform for nearly all of its missions.
Measurements are made so that every jacket meets Regimental standards. Technicians will measure from the tip of the thumb while the Soldier stands at attention.
Pleats must also be altered so all jackets have a cut look to them, said Gross.
Pants are given a “West Point Cut” which is a slant, said Gross. A special tool is held up to the Soldier’s leg so the proper angel is achieved.
Infantry Soldiers are issued two blouses. The Soldiers try them on and then an alterations clerk will measure and mark the garment for tailoring.
For enlisted Infantry Soldiers alterations usually consist of adjusting the sleeves and adding an honor guard tab, said Gross.
Officer jackets require more steps like adding hooks or overseas bars on the arms.
“One coat could take 20 minutes or it could take three hours depending on what you have to do with it,” said Gross.
Jackets and pants are logged and Soldiers are given a receipt. The necessary alterations take about two weeks. Master Sgt. Ilya Basyuk, a Non-commissioned Officer assigned at CIF, notifies company first sergeants when the items are ready to be picked up.
The CIF on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., services not only The Old Guard but also high-ranking leaders in the Pentagon.
Jones said there is a huge difference between the quality of equipment he was issued in the 1960’s and what Soldiers are issued today.
The basic sleeping bag is Jones’ prime example.
“For example their sleep system, they have a five piece sleep system,” said Jones. “Most of these old Soldiers know we only got one sleeping bag, a big OD (olive drab) green one.”
“These young men and young ladies here, they are well taken care of,” said Jones. “I’m old school, this is your new model Army and I salute them.”
“I get a kick out of watching them come through here,” said Jones.
With the help and dedication of the Supply Technicians at the CIF, Soldiers in The Old Guard have everything they need to accomplish their missions.