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Air Force uniform changes ongoing

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There have been recent Air Force Uniform developments, some of which are currently underway at HQ Air Staff level. Fit and wear testing is ongoing in the field. The Airmen Battle Uniform, known as ABU, was first fielded in November 2006. The ABU was specifically designed for Airmen, providing a functionally deployable uniform in today's Area of Responsibility while distinguishing Airmen within a joint environment. The Air Force continuously evaluates uniforms...particularly new ensure they meet Air Force standards. Issues such as shade variations, pattern composition and wear-life probability are all under consideration with this uniform. 

"The Air Force uniform is a 'complicated weapon system' constantly undergoing research, development and testing to ensure it meets our Airmen's needs," according to a Uniform Update briefing from CMSgt. Rodney J. McKinley, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. 

As a result of the Air Force working with Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, the ABU is expected to be available AF wide by mid FY 10. The ABU mandatory wear-date is 1 November 2011, which allows production of outer garments to catch up to the demand.
Current authorized outer-garments are the All-Purpose Environmental Clothing System, known as APECS (replaces the Battle Dress Uniform Gore-Tex), the new ABU Improved Rain Suit (known as IRS), or the current All-weather coat (dark blue). No liners are currently authorized for wear as outer-garments, regardless of location, command, or intra-service policy. 

Commanders may authorize the cold-weather Parka (green) and the Environmental Cold Weather Control System (ECWCS), known as BDU Gore-Tex.
Green and tan boots are authorized for wear with the ABU. Once again feedback from the field was the catalyst that started research and testing of a more oil/soil resistant suede boot - a manufacturer with a 90 percent solution has provided samples that the Air Force is currently testing." 

Feedback also prompted 100% shade evaluation to ensure shirt and trouser material matches and development of a lighter weight shirt.
The light weight version is based on the USMC twill light weight fabric. It will be introduced into the inventory through attrition; estimate for availability is summer 09. There will not be a summer and winter weight ABU as the ABU has a 7-layer system for colder weather. 

The ABS-G is designed for in-theater operations. It is considered functional gear, not a uniform item. Unit and mission will determine authorization and funding. The Air Force is currently developing a prototype and will provide fit and wear testing in the AOR this year. Results of fit and wear testing will determine any improvement modifications. This is an urgent needs requirement and availability should be within FY 09." 

The Physical Training Gear is designed for wear by Air Force members during physical training, whether organized, unit, or individual training. It is not intended as a uniform or for wear by other than military members. The item receiving the most feedback from the field is the PT running suit. Based on that feedback, some improvements have been made...a "quieter" fabric is being tested that also provides more comfort. Side pockets have been added to the shorts that allow more than just an ID card to be carried...there's room for your keys and wallet. 

Optional shirts have been added for those 'in-between' weather conditions...long-sleeve T-shirts and sweat shirts will soon be available as optional items. Additional items are also authorized to address functional safety concerns...100 percent cotton PT clothing is being produced for certain functionals who require it for safety reasons (e.g. firefighters)." 

The Air Force is rich in heritage. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force determined the uniform should proudly display that heritage. There are three prototypes that will be tested during Aug/Sep 2008. The only differences are two include belts and one has no belt. Accouterments will be current silver name tag, ribbons and badges. Consistent feedback from the field regarding our service dress uniform has been, 'Return to our heritage and a military style appearance.' The CSAF responded with a more military-style uniform. 

The three prototypes, from the air and space forefather, General "Hap" Arnold, are scheduled to be wear-tested at four locations and by senior leadership. There is also a USAF Honor Guard version, which debuts at Bolling Air Force Base's 90th birthday on 25 Jul 08. If you have questions regarding the new uniform, please direct them to the local Military Personnel Facility or the Air Force Personnel Center's call center.