Environmental Uniform (DEU)
Distinctive Environmental Uniform was adopted as a dress and duty uniform by the
Canadian Forces in the mid-1980s, marking a return to distinctive service
uniforms. Soldiers, sailors and airmen of the CF were identified as belonging to
an "environment" or "element", either Sea, Land or Air. Members of the land
element had the former CF Uniform replaced with a tan DEU for summer and CF
Green DEU for winter. The jackets and trousers were similar to the CF Uniform
with the exception of the addition of shoulder straps. The jackets were also cut
differently, lacking shoulder padding, and of different material. Uniforms for
the sea element returned to black and white in line with naval traditions, and
the air element returned to the postman blue previously worn by the Royal
Canadian Air Force before Unification.
In the autumn of 1986, 50 percent of the CF had received winter uniforms (some
54,000), with the remainder issued in the autumn of 1987. Issue of the "tans"
began in the spring of 1987, with the final 50% of the issue made in the spring
In the 1990s, specifically female clothing began to be phased out; while the
skirt would remain an optional item of dress in the 21st Century, the "dickie"
and female Service Dress Cap were abandoned. The issue of "male" jackets also
became common in lieu of a female jacket lacking external breast pockets and
buttoning on the other side.
In the late 1990s, the tan DEU was deleted, and Combat Dress was made the
standard dress of the day. A free issue of three short-sleeved green shirts was
made in 1998, with 47,000 new pattern short-sleeved shirts produced by mid-March
of that year and 10,000 new shirts a week coming off production lines. The green
DEU jacket, trousers and skirts were changed from the heavyweight winter
material to a newer all-season fabric that was slightly lighter. Other changes
to the DEU at that time was the increase in the scale of issue of the beret from
1 to 2 (with cap badge) and the elimination of the service cap/hat. Long sleeved
shirt issue was reduced from four per member to two as the DEU was reserved for
ceremonial purposes rather than office work.
Similarly, CF Work Dress changed shortly afterwards to Garrison Dress, also
incorporating different coloured clothing for the three elements. The Army wore
a camouflaged Garrison Dress Jacket over a tan shirt and CF (rifle) green work
dress trousers. The Garrison Dress was also phased out in favour of Combat Dress
being used as working dress.
At right, the Tan DEU, displayed
in The King's Own Calgary Regiment Museum. Below is the winter, CF green DEU
jacket, tailored as a "Highland cut-away" by having the tunic skirt rounded off
to accommodate the sporran.
Grant Drab Serge and Khaki Drill: The Foreign Service, Universal
Service, Battle and Combat Dress Jackets of the Canadian
Army 1899-2003 (Parks Canada, 2003)