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Airmen cut uniforms
Old 11-17-2007, 02:39 PM   #1
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Airmen cut uniforms

I see some things in the Air Force never change. Such as new uniforms rolled out without any thought given to where and how they will be used. I still remember shelling out $700 for new "Dress White" uniforms that we were told would be mandatory. Within a year not only were they made optional, they were forbidden. I'm sure it's because someone realized they looked like Navy uniforms. Not that there's anything wrong with that

BAGHDAD -- Most airmen like the Air Force's new camouflage uniforms. They say they're more comfortable and easier to maintain, and they dig the digital tiger print. Except there is one thing that gets them hot under the collar: The uniforms can be sweltering in warm weather.


This Airman nailed it:

"Whoever designed this obviously designed this for someone sitting in an office, not for out here," said Airman 1st Class David Bear, 22, who is deployed to Iraq and is attached to the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.

But it's not just the thickness of the threads. What really have some airmen steaming are the map pockets on the inside of the uniform jacket. To stay cool in the warmer climates, some airmen have secretly taken out the pockets. Alterations shops on bases in Iraq and in the United States offer to "mod" the uniforms for a few bucks.


Airmen Stay Cool by Cutting Uniforms
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Old 11-17-2007, 02:48 PM   #2
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Yes the uniform is beginning to make its way to the clothing and sales but slow due to manufacturing issues. Of course it is not offered in the light weight material just the heavy. We also recently got an email briefing about making sure we don't wash it in color brightening detergent. It seems that if enhances the glow when viewed with NVGs and the concern is you could be seen by the bad guys. Wouldn't you think someone would have looked at this?

I am convinced uniform changes are driven by some retiring flag officer that cuts a deal with the uniform manufacturer for a job when he retires. Well maybe not but at least it makes a good story.

I intend to wait a little longer before I make the $500 purchase for 3 sets and a pair of boots to give them time to work some of the bugs out of the new design. I think we should have used the Army's version. At least some of the changes they made makes sense.

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Old 11-17-2007, 02:59 PM   #3
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If you bring up the subject of changes to women's military uniforms over the last 20 years, my spouse will begin spluttering incoherently within a minute.

If you mention how much more streamlined & affordable the Air Force's uniform inventory is compared to the other services, especially the Navy, she'll have to leave the room.

Have you heard that the Navy is test-wearing a "new" uniform called "dress khaki"?

I still have a half-dozen sets of submarine coveralls. Our kid uses them for Hallowe'en costumes.
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:20 PM   #4
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I am convinced uniform changes are driven by some retiring flag officer that cuts a deal with the uniform manufacturer for a job when he retires. Well maybe not but at least it makes a good story.Tomcat98
That hasn't changed either. Story back then was the Chief of Staff's wife was making the uniform decisions and un-decisions. I still believe that was true.

Nords, let me know if your kid wants to dress up like an Air Force waiter in my old dress whites.
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:31 PM   #5
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When I was very little, I asked my Dad "Aren't you glad you don't have to wear a uniform to work?" after seeing the oilman deliver oil, dressed in his blue uniform with the name embroidered on. My father, who worked for IBM, said "What makes you think I don't?"

I'll never forget that.

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Old 11-17-2007, 04:07 PM   #6
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Nords, let me know if your kid wants to dress up like an Air Force waiter in my old dress whites.
Shortly after I was commissioned, I was wearing my best new summer whites in the credit union waiting line. I was Richard Gere right out of "Officer and a Gentleman" (or for you youngsters, Tom Cruise in "Top Gun").

A two-year-old boy looked at me, grew wide-eyed in amazement, turned to his dad, and announced to the whole crowd: "LOOK, Daddy, ice cream!!!"
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Old 11-17-2007, 04:24 PM   #7
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It reminds me of the old joke.

A drunk is walking along and comes across the Army-Navy club. He sees a man in uniform and says, "Doorman, call me a cab."

The man stiffens and replies, "I will have you know sir, that I am an Admiral in the United States Navy."

The drunk thinks about this and then says, "Alright, then call me a battleship."
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:54 PM   #8
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The Air Force's new ABU uniform won't be fully mandatory until sometime in 2011. I don't plan to switch from the "old" BDU uniform until the very last minute. The new ones are showing up more & more at my base, but I'm not in a hurry to get them. By 2011, maybe they'll have the bugs worked out. However, having been associated with the Air Force for a tad over 30 years, I've pretty much given up on expecting them to do anything just because it seems like the logical thing to do!
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:45 PM   #9
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The Air Force's new ABU uniform won't be fully mandatory until sometime in 2011. I don't plan to switch from the "old" BDU uniform until the very last minute. The new ones are showing up more & more at my base, but I'm not in a hurry to get them. By 2011, maybe they'll have the bugs worked out.
Nah, by then the ABU will have been superceded by yet another successor uniform and you'll have missed an entire pendulum swing...
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Old 11-17-2007, 09:23 PM   #10
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Nah, by then the ABU will have been superceded by yet another successor uniform and you'll have missed an entire pendulum swing...
It's like an old Chief Master Sergeant told us in leadership school when someone asked him if he had any of the *new* uniforms (BDU w/ leather name patch) that were about to go obsolete for the *new/old* (BDU with sewn on name tags) uniforms.

He said, "I never owned a leather name patch and I never will. One thing I have learned after 30 years in this man's Air Force. If you don't like one bus; just keep standing at the bus stop. Another one will be along soon enough."
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Old 11-18-2007, 07:19 AM   #11
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We also recently got an email briefing about making sure we don't wash it in color brightening detergent. It seems that if enhances the glow when viewed with NVGs and the concern is you could be seen by the bad guys. Wouldn't you think someone would have looked at this?
That is the same with the old BDU's also. Starch does the same thing. I couldn't help but chew some airmen when they deployed to Kosovo, because they came to the deployment line with freshly starched uniforms.

I always requested the winter weight desert uniforms and that is all I had in my closet for BDU's. I felt they lasted longer, were more sturdy, and took to steam ironing (when home) better than the summer weights. It took a few years to get used to wearing "flannel" in the summer, but when wearing body armor under the shirt it didn't really matter what I wore, it was all hot.
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Old 11-18-2007, 10:02 AM   #12
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... took to steam ironing (when home) better than the summer weights.
I'm baffled by the practice of starching & ironing a field utility uniform. On the wasted-time scale, it's right up there with freshly spit-shined jump boots.

Thank goodness that spit & polish stuff never caught on with submarine coveralls & afloat footwear. Next thing they'd expect us to start shaving and maybe even showering...
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Old 11-18-2007, 10:14 AM   #13
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I'm baffled by the practice of starching & ironing a field utility uniform. On the wasted-time scale, it's right up there with freshly spit-shined jump boots.

Thank goodness that spit & polish stuff never caught on with submarine coveralls & afloat footwear. Next thing they'd expect us to start shaving and maybe even showering...
In the Air Force the leadership has the mistaken (IMHO) opinion that a sharply ironed uniform means the person knows how to do their job. I saw/see no correlation between a nicely pressed uniform or shiny boots with job performance. To me it was like saying someone could play baseball very well so they can play football just as well.

The only reason I even touched an iron is to keep the boss off my back and my boots were brush shined. I can't count how many times I had to scuff the boots of my troops in the field because they insisted on keeping them extremely shiny.
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Old 11-18-2007, 10:31 AM   #14
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In the Air Force the leadership has the mistaken (IMHO) opinion that a sharply ironed uniform means the person knows how to do their job.
I'm beginning to understand why my nephew the Army Ranger wants to join the SF...

At a military exercise a few years ago, spouse saw a fairly senior Israeli officer whose entire collection of military awards consisted of just three ribbons. It's not uncommon for U.S. Navy officers of that rank to have eight or even nine rows of merit badges with a couple extra chunks of metal above & below. It was a potent contrast showing just how much America's "creeping peacetime" has shifted the focus to totally irrelevant performance indicators.
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Old 11-18-2007, 11:01 AM   #15
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In the Air Force the leadership has the mistaken (IMHO) opinion that a sharply ironed uniform means the person knows how to do their job.
There's an old saying. If you can't influence what's important, you make important what you can influence. Two incidents come to mind.

The first was the time our new 2 star Wing Commander came through for squadron inspections. He said he didn't want to see anything special, instead he wanted to see the men and women in their day to day jobs. We thought that was a great example of leadership. So he comes through, and talks with quite a few of them, asking them what they do, how they do it, what problems they may have, etc. Great. A few days later the squadron commanders and execs get called in and provided a list of names of people they need to counsel. Every one of the writeups had to do with shoes not shiny enough, wrinkles on uniforms, etc. Not a word on job performance. Amazing thing, while he was talking with the men and women about their jobs, he was mentally keeping track of their uniforms, and remembering names and uniform gigs.

Second. A visit I made to one of our northern tier bases. As I walked through building hallways I noticed some had freshly painted walls, others were dirty and marked up. I eventually asked the reason and was told they were having a command inspection the next day, and the painted walls were the route of the inspection.

I bet those who worked at that base were some of the ones who had gotten tricked by the first inspection. They learned the system.

Best job I ever had for relaxed uniforms was on missile duty out in the sticks. We were provided with white uniforms, obviously designed by someone without a clue of working outside in rain and snow, or with instruments coated with oil and grease. By the time we finished the job our uniforms were coated with a mixture of grease and dirt, but you know what? I never once saw one of our leaders out there at two in the morning, in terrible conditions, checking on uniforms. In fact, never saw them at all
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Old 11-18-2007, 11:19 AM   #16
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I never once saw one of our leaders out there at two in the morning, in terrible conditions, checking on uniforms. In fact, never saw them at all
Once the submarine hatches were dogged shut, crewmembers could donate $5 to the Recreation Committee for a "beard chit". You had to be clean-shaven before the next portcall, and you still had to be able to get a good face seal on an air-breathing mask, but otherwise you were allowed to grow whatever you could. After 30 days the crew began to look like a bunch of extras from "Das Boot", of course with clean necks for those facemasks.

I'm hoping the advent of high-bandwidth seaborne VTC doesn't ruin it for everybody.

The silliest little things seemed to make the biggest morale improvements...
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Old 11-18-2007, 12:02 PM   #17
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Once the submarine hatches were dogged shut, crewmembers could donate $5 to the Recreation Committee for a "beard chit".
I remember when Zumualt allowed Navy guys to have beards. Here is an old article about the end of that era:

Navy Decides Sailors May Not Have Beards - New York Times

And it looks like the Canadian Navy allows beards for everyone except submariners. They're worried about the breathing masks you mention, guess they didn't want to trust the sailors to make sure their masks could seal:
Navy may ban beards on submariners

The Air Force would never in their wildest days have allowed beards -- I don't think even the CoS's wife could have gotten that into 35-10. I remember one guy on remote, though, who got a pretty nice looking long hair wig that he wore after duty. Whenever we had outside senior officers visit, they would have conniptions when they saw him walking around, and the next morning would be all over the Squadron Commander asking what the h*l was going on. By then, this guy would walk in with short cropped hair looking like a Marine. They were ready to congratulate the SC for his rapid correction, until they found out it had been a wig. They would then spend the rest of their time studying 35-10 to see find a prohibition on long hair wigs on non-duty hours, but never found one.
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Old 11-18-2007, 02:17 PM   #18
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I remember when Zumualt allowed Navy guys to have beards. Here is an old article about the end of that era:
Navy Decides Sailors May Not Have Beards - New York Times
We had a lot of beard-shaving parties after Christmas that year. It was a bummer the following week, too, because among all the naked chins it was clear why some of the guys had grown their beards.

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guess they didn't want to trust the sailors to make sure their masks could seal:
Seems it would be self-correcting...

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They would then spend the rest of their time studying 35-10 to see find a prohibition on long hair wigs on non-duty hours, but never found one.
Darn I wish I'd thought of that!
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Old 11-18-2007, 04:49 PM   #19
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I still have one of the old leather name tag uniforms hanging in my closet. I have no idea why, I think I'll toss it or donate it next week. As far as starching and pressing the BDU, yep, I do it! If I didn't I'd stick out like a sore thumb in my unit. I'm a senior NCO and have to blend in with the other guys or else it'd probably end up reflecting somehow. Office politics, you know!
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Old 11-18-2007, 07:05 PM   #20
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I usually washed and ironed my BDUs (too cheap to send them out). I sometimes lightly starched them with liquid starch diluted 4:1 with water in a spray bottle. With all the funky pleated pockets they were actually more trouble to keep looking good than the standard USAF poly-cotton short sleeved shirt and polyester slacks. But the BDUs fit like PJs and were more comfortable.

Wearing BDUs every day it was also easy to pack on a few pounds and not notice it. It was probably good that most Joint HQs had a policy of wearing the standard service uniforms once per month (ostensibly in recognition of service pride, but probably as a subtle reminder of waistline inflation issues).

Best boots: The ones I was issued in flight school. Leather like butter and speed laces. Very convenient. I put several replacement soles on them and they lasted for 15 years. I sure hated to break in a new pair (and get them polished up).
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