KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
As the deadline for Airmen to don the new Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform approaches, the 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron is working to get uniforms to its Reserve Citizen Airmen.
The Air Force’s May 2018 decision to transition into a single combat uniform eliminates the need to maintain two separate uniforms – one for in-garrison and one for deployments.
“Since January 2018, more than 300 members of the 403rd Wing have been issued the new OCP uniforms,” said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Brown, 403rd LRS logistics supply manager. “Those members who have deployed or are getting ready to deploy already have the OCPs and we are now focused on getting our Air Reserve Technicians into the new uniforms.”
The 403rd LRS is responsible for making sure 403rd Wing Airmen receive the new OCP uniforms in a timely manner before the April 1, 2021 deadline, while working with a limited supply and ordering availability.
Even though service members are authorized to purchase the new OCPs from any AAFES store that carries them, the Keesler Air Force Base clothing sales store does not have a date when they will be getting them for everyone to purchase.
While Brown acknowledges Airmen may be eager to start wearing the new uniform, he recommends enlisted Reserve Citizen Airmen wait for a uniform issue rather than purchasing on their own.
“Our goal is to try and outfit our members with at least one uniform by the end of the fiscal year,” said Brown. “But issuing our enlisted members a new uniform is based on the available funding.”
Although LRS does not supply officers with uniforms, safety gear is provided for them. One type of safety gear issued to both officers and enlisted includes the new OCP two-piece flight duty uniform, or 2PFDU. The 2PFDU looks like the regular OCP uniform when worn with the exception of the pants, which are not bloused over the boots.
When it comes to the new flight duty uniforms, one important thing to note is that here in the South, being able to remove the top helps to relieve some of the heat, said Senior Master Sgt. Darren Bannister, 815th Airlift Squadron loadmaster supervisor.
Tech. Sgt. Taylor Noel, 815th AS loadmaster agreed and said, “Being able to take off the shirt while getting the aircraft ready to take-off is great for this weather, but I still like the traditional flight suit better during the winter because it is a more comfortable, simplistic and a warmer uniform.”
According to Air Force guidance released April 23, 2019, the traditional flight suits will remain authorized and squadron commanders will have the flexibility to make combat uniform decisions based on what is best for their Airmen in order to meet mission requirements.
The tan t-shirt, belt and boots are still currently authorized; however, they will become obsolete June 1, 2020, and the coyote brown color will be mandatory. Socks will be olive drab green or coyote brown.
While the Air Force and the Army are both using the OCPs, a difference between the service branches will be the color on the patches, name tapes and ranks. The Air Force will also ultimately move to using a spice brown color versus the Army’s use of black and green.
The uniform change also brings back the use of patches and shields being worn on the uniform, bringing back a return of squadron and wing pride. Patches go back to the Battle Dress Uniform, when service members had their patches sewn onto the pockets below their name and branch of service.
“I like being able to wear the patches again,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Lee, 403rd Maintenance Squadron propulsion flight chief. “It allows you to show pride in the unit that you belong to and sets the units apart from each other.”
According to the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, this show of pride also brought about the change of moving the squadron patch to the right shoulder beneath the flag patch and the command patch to the left shoulder as of April 23, 2019, and was in response to overwhelming feedback from Airmen.
“Equipping our Airmen with the uniforms and supplies they need to get ready to go downrange is what my job is all about,” said Brown. “Being able to get them ready for when their nation calls and knowing that I did my part is the best feeling in the world.”