Hot on the tails of the Navy revealing its space-themed uniform for the annual academy rivalry football matchup, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point decided to look to its past for sartorial inspiration.
Its uniform is dedicated to the soldiers of the 1st Armored Division, specifically those that kicked off Operation Torch, bringing the United States into the fold during World War II.
“Operation Torch marked the 1st Armored Division’s entry into the crucible of combat,” according to the Army release. “The resilience, grit, and commitment demonstrated by the soldiers ultimately resulted in the defeat of Axis forces in North Africa. In the harsh desert against a determined enemy, the members of the 1st Armored Division were forged into ‘Iron Soldiers’ and learned the lessons that would guide them to success in subsequent operations in Italy and Western Europe.”
Though it’s dubbed the academy’s “Old Ironsides” uniform, it is not to be confused with the Navy’s U.S.S. Constitution, the legendary frigate that went by the same moniker.
The uniform, provided by Nike, is deep Army green with gold insignia and taupe pants. Around the waist, it features a prominent “mud splatter” design, which is meant to signify the dirt and grit that would have plagued the 1st Armored Division’s equipment and tanks as they battled Axis forces in Europe and North Africa.
Cadets’ helmets have ornate detailing. This includes a streamer at the front, which combines elements of the American Defense Medal ribbon and an arrowhead on the Algeria-French Moroccan streamer symbolizing Operation Torch’s amphibious assault. Both are set on a green background to represent the fields of battle in Europe with brown stripes on the border symbolizing the sand of Africa. On the side is the 1st Armored Division unit patch.
Each Cadet wears his regiment number and company mascot animal designation over his right chest. The pants feature a nod to “bumper numbers” — the Army’s system of vehicle identification developed during World War II, which is still in use today.
Lastly, the font Nike designers selected is from the M3 tanks utilized by the 1st Armored Division.
So while the Naval Academy’s Midshipmen will be floating around in space uniforms, West Point’s Cadets will be knee-deep in the mud out on the field Dec. 10 — at least according to their uniforms.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.