The 411 on DEUs and FTUs

One need only google the definition of “uniformity” to understand why cadets wear uniforms. When we dress alike, we symbolically show that we are together and on the same team. Check out synonyms for uniformity and you’ll find other words like consistency, steadiness, stability, and equality. These are the characteristics and qualities that uniforms give us. But ironically not all uniforms the same! Here’s the 411 on the uniforms we wear:

Our cadets wear two types of uniform – the Distinctive Environment Uniform (DEUs) and the Field Training Uniform (FTUs). DEUs are the more formal of the two and the DEU is the one you will see cadets wearing at public events like the Vimy Parade or Remembrance Day. Cadets also wear DEUs on some parade nights – especially for the Commanding Officer’s parade, when everyone attempts to look their very best. All army cadets in Canada wear the same distinctive DEUs (distinct from those worn by air cadets or sea cadets) but not all army cadet corps dress exactly the same. For example, units like ours, which is sponsored by a highland regiment (the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada), are allowed to wear certain elements of highland kit. Every new army cadet in Canada is issued a beret for headgear, but as Seaforth cadets progress through the cadet program they can be “upgraded” to a highland Tam O Shanter (TOS) and a Glengarry (Glen). The “Glen” is worn with the DEU and the TOS with the FTU.


[Photo: Cadets wear their DEU uniform at events like the Commanding Officer’s parade, and may be wearing either a beret or Glengarry.]


Once a Seaforth cadet achieves the rank of Master Corporal (MCpl), the Commanding Officer may authorize a kilt to be issued. The kilt also comes with quite a bit more gear such as a brown sporran, Lovat hose (green socks), red flashes (sock garters) black brogues, black belt and brass buckle, and a cutaway tunic. The kilt tartan is the same as that of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada – the Mackenzie. It certainly keeps the Supply Officer’s team on their toes!

Cadets participating in the colour guard wear kilts but are also issued with a blue tunic (“blues”), white belt, white gloves, white sporran, and white spats (which are worn over parade boots).


[Photo: Seaforth army cadets in highland kit – one is wearing Lovat hose and brogues; other wear spats with parade boots and Menzies hose; all are wearing Glengarry headgear, white belts, and white sporrans; and one is wearing a Blues tunic.]


Speaking of parade boots – those are only worn with the DEUs. When out on field adventures (like FTX Stag’s Walk) and wearing the FTUs, cadets wear the more rugged combat boot.


[Photo: cadets in FTUs, with TOS headgear and combat boots]


Apart from their power to unite everyone on the team, and prepare cadets for whatever activity they are engaged in, uniforms serve one further function: the badges provide a way to identify what unit an army cadet comes from, what courses, skills, accomplishments and qualifications they have achieved – and more. But badges are a topic for another story!

* Useful terms:

DEUs = Distinctive Environment Uniform
FTUs = Field Training Uniform
Kit = army clothing and equipment
TOS = Tam O Shanter hat
Lovat Hose = green knee-length socks
Menzies Hose = diced red-and-white knee-length socks
Brogues = low-heeled shoes with decorative perforations
Flashes = sock garters
Spats (an abbreviation of ‘spatterdash’) = a protective accessory to protect boots from dirt and mud
Tartan = a pattern of plaid associated with a Scottish clan or regiment

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