The Air Force has pretty much finalized the design of their proposed new utility uniform. Blue and green tiger stripes are out; the digitized pattern with subdued green, tan, blue and gray is in.
After reviewing more than 150,000 bits of feedback throughout the initial seven-month wear test of the proposed utility uniform, Air Force leaders recently decided to eliminate the original color scheme and conduct a limited field test of the new pattern.
This field test will be conducted by Special operations and survival, evasion, resistance and escape Airmen, who will conduct a limited wear test of the new design at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Hurlburt Field, Fla., and Fairchild AFB, Wash., in June.
“The sole purpose of the test will be to see if we can add any features to the uniform to make it a better uniform in the field and to determine if the new colors (and) pattern provide camouflage protection they need in the field,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dana Athnos, Air Force uniform board superintendent.
Airmen who participated in the initial wear test stopped wearing the more vibrant blue-green uniform March 1.
The original wear test involved more than 700 Airmen at 32 bases worldwide who kept detailed daily logs annotating likes, dislikes and wash-and-wear problems. They also completed three surveys.
“Throughout the test, Air Force leaders actively solicited feedback from testers and observers alike to ensure this uniform developed into one that fit the needs of today’s Airmen,” Sergeant Athnos said.
“There were several avenues for feedback, ensuring that the (Air Force) chief of staff had realistic facts when making the final decision on the uniform,” she said.
Those avenues included a survey sent to 45,000 Airmen, a Web site and direct e-mail to the uniform board.
“Some comments were positive, some were negative -- all of them were provided directly to the chief of staff,” Sergeant Athnos said.
The new uniforms are going to cost more -- about $70.00 per set, compared to the current $50.65 - $53.05 for current Battle Dress Uniforms. However, airmen are expected to save money in the long run. In a recent interview, Air Force Chief of Staff General John Jumper estimated that airmen spend an average of $21 million per year in dry cleaning costs and removing and replacing organizational patches. The new uniform is wash and wear, and organization patches will no longer be allowed. The only items which will be sewn onto the uniform are rank insignia, the Air Force and name tapes, and a functional area (job) badge, worn above the Air Force tape.
Some of the features of the new uniform are:
- numerical sizes to fit
- button-fly pants with three inches of elastic on the sides
- more storage pockets
- fewer patches
- no-shine boots
- nylon and cotton twill, rip-stop, wash and wear material
The uniform is scheduled to be procured in mid-2005, officials said. Airmen can expect to purchase the uniform sometime in fiscal 2007. The proposed uniform will be phased in over four or five years before they become mandatory for wear. When the new uniform is made mandatory, annual clothing allowances will be readjusted to reflect the new cost.
Information Courtesy of USAF