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Most commands to end Blues Monday, but not GSC

Dec. 6, 2012 - 01:02PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 - 01:02PM  |  
Since the Nov. 28 announcement by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to let commanders decide whether to do away with Blues Mondays, some major commands have delegated the decision to wing commanders, and one major command — Global Strike Command — has decided to keep Blues Monday alive.
Since the Nov. 28 announcement by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to let commanders decide whether to do away with Blues Mondays, some major commands have delegated the decision to wing commanders, and one major command — Global Strike Command — has decided to keep Blues Monday alive. ()
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Major commands can ditch Blues Mondays (11/29)

The decision by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to let commanders decide whether to do away with Blues Mondays won big favor among airmen, but not everybody is going to benefit.

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The decision by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to let commanders decide whether to do away with Blues Mondays won big favor among airmen, but not everybody is going to benefit.

Since that Nov. 28 announcement, some major commands have delegated the decision to wing commanders, and one major command — Global Strike Command — has decided to keep Blues Monday alive.

So far, Air Force Materiel Command, Space Command, Special Operations Command and Pacific Air Forces have ended the unpopular policy outright.

"The NAFs [numbered air forces] and other staffs may set the uniform policy for their respective headquarters," Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of PACAF, said in an email to commanders. "For the PACAF Headquarters, blues will not be mandated on Mondays; uniform selection will be commensurate with the expected duty that day, or as directed by the workplace supervisors."

Three other major commands have opted to delegate the decision to wing commanders: Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

"The CSAF and I have discussed giving more flexibility to commanders on Monday uniform wear," Gen. Philip Breedlove, the USAFE commander, said in a Nov. 30 statement. "In my headquarters, personnel may wear ABUs [airmen battle uniforms] or flight suits, if appropriate for their duties, every day. My commanders in the field have the same leeway, and will set the policy for their individual units based on [operational] tempo and local conditions."

One base in Europe has abolished Blues Monday outright, four other bases are allowing commanders to dictate the uniform of the day, and three bases are still reviewing their uniform wear policies, said a USAFE spokesman, Tech Sgt. James Hodgman.

Both ACC and AMC were unable to say how many of their commanders have decided to do away with Blues Monday.

As of Dec. 10, military personnel within Air Force Reserve Command will not be required to wear dress blues on Monday, AFRC spokeswoman Chandra Brown said.

The Office of the Air Force Reserve will continue to wear dress blues from Monday through Thursday, Brown said in an email. Numbered air forces commanders can decide when their airmen will wear blues.

Not everyone is dumping Blues Monday. Global Strike Command has decided to continue the policy, said a command spokesman, Lt. Col. Ron Watrous.

"Quite honestly, there are bigger issues warranting consideration and focus than whether or not to change uniform policy," Watrous explained. "At the end of the day, ABUs and blues are our official uniforms we're required to have anyway. We should be able to be professionals, regardless of whether we're wearing blues or ABUs."

Meanwhile, many airmen are still waiting to hear if they have to wear their dress blue uniforms to work on Mondays.

Air Education and Training Command said it had not made a decision on Blues Monday by deadline.

The Air National Guard is still reviewing how it is affected by Welsh's decision on Blues Monday, said Rose Richeson, a spokeswoman for the National Guard Bureau.

"In some cases, the Air National Guard is considered a MAJCOM, and in other cases, they are not," Richeson said in an email.

Former Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz introduced Blues Mondays in September 2008, following a leadership summit convened by him and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley.

"Post-9/11, we've moved away from our blue uniforms almost altogether and have transformed into an Air Force that wears our utility uniform on a daily basis," Schwartz said in a memo. "We all agreed that part of our image, culture and professionalism is instilled in our blues."

Schwartz's predecessor had taken the opposite approach. As part of his effort to instill a "war-fighting ethos" in the Air Force culture, Gen. T. Michael Moseley ordered airmen to wear camouflage uniforms.

Despite the rationale for Blues Monday, the policy went over with a resounding thud with the rank and file. Many airmen have complained to Air Force Times that the dress blues are uncomfortable and impractical to wear while doing their jobs. Wearing the blues every week also meant they had to pay to maintain, fix and replace the uniform.

So it's not surprising that a Nov. 29 online story about Welsh's decision received 14,000 "likes" and drew many comments in support of abolishing Blues Monday.

"Blues, in my opinion, are more like a tuxedo than a suit," one person wrote on Air Force Times' Facebook page. "You don't wear a tuxedo to work … unless you're a 007 agent."

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