Nothing is constant but uniform change

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Erin Heiser
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing
The Air Force uniform is getting a face lift, albeit a slight one. In 2008, the 98th Virtual Uniform Board convened to determine the future of today's AFI 36-2903. The board, consisting of Airmen voting members from all major commands and most functional communities, gathered to weigh in on a laundry list of possible uniform updates. 

This latest round of updates while not dramatically different in overall look and feel is currently awaiting final approval from the Air Force chief of staff. Among the most popular changes in the dress and appearance of tomorrow, is the approval of personal cell phone use while walking, though the wear of hands free devices is still prohibited. And gone are the days of non-tucked trousers, as all ABU / BDU pant legs will now have to be tucked into boots, showcasing a bloused appearance.

The below list features several new approved changes that are slated for integration into AFI 36-2093 no later than 0ct. 2010:
-- The green fleece formerly worn only as the All-Purpose Environmental Clothing System liner is authorized Air Force-wide as an outer-wear garment.
-- Enlisted chevrons will be worn on light weight blue jacket sleeves instead of the metal rank insignias on the collar effective Jan. 1, 2010.
-- The ends of boot laces must be tucked into boots. Wrapping the laces around boot is authorized.
-- The length of airman battle uniform lower leg pocket will increase by approximately 1/2 inch.
-- Upper sleeve pockets are authorized on fire-resistant clothing authorized for the Central Command region.
-- Airmen earning and awarded the Army Parachute Riggers badge are authorized permanent wear on all uniform combinations. For the airman battle uniform and the battle dress uniform, the badge will be blue. On the desert combat uniform the approved color is brown.
-- Wearing the black Army Air Assault Badge on the battle dress uniform is authorized upon graduation from Air Assault School.
-- Organizational ball caps are not authorized to be attached to either lower leg cargo pockets on the BDU trousers.
-- The female ABU trouser fly buttons will be the same as on men's pants.

But not all suggested updates made the cut. In all, 76 submissions failed to receive the board's two thumbs up. Those not making the grade included the wear of a closely shaved and well groomed goatee; a "prince-cut" version of the blue short sleeve shirt for males; and a body suit version of the service dress shirt for women. Other outcasts included the wear of male blues pants by female airman; the wear of a blue belt with ABUs; and a BDU version of the flight suit.

Today's uniform is ever evolving and will continue to change to reflect the needs of today's mission ready men and women. Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services and chairman of the Virtual Uniform Board highlighted that the goal is to "...provide the optimal uniform and equipment to Airmen in order to allow them to best carry out their mission." 

And as our mission changes, so must our battle dress.