The Air Force is getting ready for the next steps in the transition to the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform across the service.
Beginning June 1, airmen will only be allowed to wear a coyote brown T-shirt with the OCP and will no longer be allowed to wear the lighter desert sand shirt under their new utility uniforms, Air Education and Training Command said in a release Tuesday. The change will be in effect for all airmen, the release said.,
“We are coming up on a big milestone requirement this year, as far as OCP wear,” said Tech. Sgt. Tyler Highfill, a Global Strike Command Airman Leadership School instructor at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, in the news release.
All airmen’s boots also must be coyote brown by June, Highfill said, and only Defense Logistics Agency-issued green socks or coyote brown socks may be worn while in the OCP. Old sage green boots, which most airmen wore with ABUs, or desert sand boots, which were worn by some airmen who already had OCPs before the Air Force made the service-wide switch official, will no longer be allowed once June begins.
The spice brown U.S. flag patch will be the only version of the flag authorized for wear in the OCP as of June.
Officers will also be required to wear spice brown rank insignia, except for first lieutenants and lieutenant colonels whose rank insignia will be black.
The Air Force in May 2018 announced that it planned to drop the old Airman Battle Uniform and shift to the Army’s OCP over the next three years. By April 1, 2021, all airmen will be required to wear the OCP.
For years, airmen have dreamed of it, demanded it, and envied those lucky enough to have it already. And finally, the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform on its way for everybody.
But replacing the uniform and all the other pieces accompanying it can be costly. So the Air Force built a series of milestones into the three-year shift, to allow airmen to gradually move over to the new uniform and spread out the expenses.
Today, airmen who had begun wearing the OCP are authorized to wear the desert sand T-shirt, green socks, and subdued black and green cloth U.S. flag patches, as well as the older boots.
Airmen will receive a roughly $20 increase in their clothing allowance per uniform in fiscal 2020, Highfill said. This will help airmen cover the increased cost of the new uniform. Airmen who have served at least three years will receive the standard allowance of $549.71, and those who have been in fewer than three years will receive the basic allowance of $428.77.
“Typical practice is to have four sets of uniforms available at all times,” Highfill said. “Purchasing uniforms over time is, of course, the best option to meet stricter budgets. I’d recommend buying a set at a time, saving over two or three months if necessary.”
Master Sgt. Michael Sumner, a first sergeant with the 377th Medical Group at Kirtland, said that airmen should start buying their uniforms now to make sure they have everything in time.
“Most airmen will have to purchase their own OCPs with the clothing allowance they are provided,” Sumner said. “There are online stores that sell the OCP uniform. However, I would encourage you to do research on the uniform they are selling.”