A piece of kit that I do actually know the (short) story behind. Much of my mil surplus stuff is either new with the tags, or I’ve no idea where it might’ve been used before it ends up with me.
Now a lot of people will have seen a combat shirt very similar to this in the form of the Flame Resistant US Army issued Army Combat Shirt (ACS) from Massif. I have seen one in DCU but the combat shirt concept didn’t really have as much traction in the pre-UCP era. For the most part these were originally issued en masse in UCP as far as I can tell; then Multicam followed. The multicam shirts were procured and issued in what I can only imagine must be many tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands during the years of peak ISAF activity in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here’s a pretty typical example:
The ACS is commonly recognisable for generally not having a zip or camo collar (though a later version changed that) as well as the ‘sunburst’ stitching on the elbows along with the plastic dimples that look like the grip on the insides of some type of sports glove.
The USAF also issued these Airman Battle Shirts (ABS) which as you can see are essentially the same thing overall. Most of the cut and the features are a carbon copy. I removed the very specific loop that come as standard and had it replaced with some more usable flag-sized fields, seeing as I won’t be displaying things like rank and name on this shirt by using very niche issued patches.
This particular ABS came via a friend and colleague of mine who is a fellow armourer and who’s been in a few more years, hence he was eligible for deployments through the late noughties when both Afghan and Iraq tours were coming thick and fast for anyone in the service who was fit and able to go. I’m not sure what exactly the swap was, but my friend was in EOD and I’m told he swapped something of his with a US Air Force EOD SNCO while in theatre and got this shirt out of the deal. Years later when he was moving away from the camp where I’m currently based and clearing out his room he found this again and kindly let me add it to the collection, so I’m happy to be able to feature it here.