The Air Force is close — “like really close” — to making a decision on whether to adopt the Army’s Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said in a Facebook post Tuesday.
But, Wright said, he didn’t intend to tease or “troll” airmen on Monday when he posted photographs of himself wearing OCPs during a trip to Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico.
Instead, he was trying to blend in with the airmen of the 27th Special Operations Group while he attended Air Force Special Operations Command’s Chief Symposium last week.
“Wow! I never thought I’d have to start a post off with ‘my bad’ but ... my bad!” Wright wrote on Facebook. “I like to follow the lead of our host unit whenever we travel. If they’re in blues, we’re in blues. If they’re in [Airman Battle Uniforms], so are we. And sometimes — like with our visit to the AOR [in the Middle East], Ft. Bliss, or our AFSOC units, if they’re in the OCPs, so are we.”
Many airmen are eager to switch to the OCP uniform, which has a six-color palette and smooth lines, allowing it to better blend in to various environments.
ABUs have a four-color, pixelated camouflage pattern.
U.S. Air Forces Central Command in 2012 made OCPs the official uniform for airmen deployed to Afghanistan because they are lightweight, flame-retardant and blend in well to Afghanistan’s terrain.
And an answer on the future of the Air Force’s uniform will be coming soon, Wright said. Air Force officials have repeatedly stressed that no decision has been made.
“This is one of those large movements that we absolutely can’t get ahead of ourselves on,” Wright said. “It’s tough sifting through the rumor mill to make the right decision on your next uniform purchase and I get it. I work to be as transparent with you as possible. But right now, there is no decision — either way.”
In a sign of how high interest is, airmen quickly began weighing in after Wright switched his Facebook profile photo to one where he’s wearing OCPs. He also posted a photo on Instagram of him taking a selfie with another OCP-wearing airman.
“Come on OCPs!” one Instagram commenter wrote. “Let’s make [the] switch ASAP, Chief!”
“Savage tease or friendly foreshadowing?” a Facebook commenter wrote, prompting another to respond “Troll level 1000.”
It even sparked a Reddit thread headlined “Enlisted Jesus Rubbing It In,” using a nickname some online commenters have started calling Wright.
Wright said in his Tuesday post that there’s no hidden message beyond, “This would make a great profile pic.”
“In hindsight, I can 100% see why some of you thought I was trolling you,” Wright wrote. “(I see you, Reddit posters.) But I’m not. Really, I’m not.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.