Air Force shifts to operational camouflage, allows shorts on hot days

Air Force Uniform Office members 2nd Lt. Maverick Wilhite and 1st Lt. Avery Thomson try out updated versions of the Air Force physical training gear, or PTG, uniform at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in February. Photo by Jim Varhegyi/U.S. Air Force

March 2 (UPI) — Air Force members will be able to wear shorts while working in hot temperatures, the branch announced on Tuesday — along with a series of other changes to its dress code and two uniform announcements.

On Tuesday, the branch published new instructions regarding dress and appearance due to take effect March 15.

Per the new dress instructions, some commanders will be able to authorize Airmen to wear dark navy blue shorts in authorized maintenance areas — such as the flight line, hangars and dock areas outside of climate-controlled areas — when high temperatures are forecast to meet or exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The new guidelines will also expand service members’ accessory options to allow headphones and Bluetooth devices in more environments — and to allow Airmen to wear cold weather gear like hats without wearing an authorized outer garment.

Airmen and Space Force Guardians will also be authorized to wear their functional community’s duty identifier patches and will have more options for sock colors, glasses frames and bags carried while in uniform.

“These options came directly from feedback from the field through the virtual uniform board and feedback from commands in the field,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services, said in a press release.

“We appreciated the feedback we received from Airmen and the opportunity to hear their concerns and ideas. Not all of the ideas fit within our standards or culture, but many do and provided us an opportunity to provide options for our Airmen,” Kelly said.

The service had already begun a phased change to the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform in October 2018, but announced Tuesday that Airmen will no longer be allowed to wear the Airman Battle Uniform after March 31.

The new instructions were released on the same day the service unveiled its new physical training gear uniform and announced that it will be transitioning to the new Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform beginning April 1.

Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, 88th Air Base Wing command chief, said the shift is happening for several reasons.

“First, it was to eliminate the need for an in-garrison and deployed uniform,” he said. “The second thing was feedback from Airmen for a better battlefield-tested uniform. I think this is a good thing and ensures our view as a joint warfighting force. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and I am excited as we move forward.”

The Air Force is also planning to begin production on a new physical training gear uniform, after more than 150 Airmen tested the new gear.

The new gear is made of lightweight, antimicrobial fabric and is designed to accommodate a variety of athletic interests.

“In the past, there was one uniform for all athletic pursuits, whether you were running, playing basketball or lifting weights,” said Col. Paul Burger, 88th Air Base Wing Mission Support Group commander, one of the test participants and an official with the Air Force Marathon.

“The approach the Air Force has now taken, is to develop a uniform that is earmarked for runners or running and one that is better designed for some of those other athletic activities,” Burger said.

The new training uniform will be available to Airmen in 2022, with a four-year transition period for mandatory wear.


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