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New Air Force dress blues may draw on service’s heritage

Chief Master Sgt. Gerard Crum, 85th Engineering Installation Squadron, inspects the uniform of Staff Sgt. Bryant Horton, 85th EIS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adam Bond)

The Air Force may follow suit with the Army by adopting a dress uniform that reflects its history.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright told airmen at a town hall in England earlier this month that changes were coming to the Air Force dress blues.

More recently, the service’s top enlisted leader said the Air Force would like to “get back to a little more heritage on jacket,” according to a report in Air Force Times.

Air Force spokesman Sr. Master Sgt. Harry Kibbe said on Friday that Wright is interested in a service dress uniform that looks back at the past. But, he added, no decisions have been made, nor has a uniform board been convened. And there’s no timeline for any changes.

At the town hall at Royal Air Force Lakenheath on Aug. 1, Wright said that once the Air Force adopts the Army’s operational camouflage pattern, changes to the female uniform are next and then dress blues.

Approval of a new uniform design would be the first update to the Air Force’s service dress uniform in decades.

The Army, meanwhile, is looking at whether to bring back the World War II-era “pinks and greens” service uniform.

No final decision has been made on whether to roll out the new Army uniform, Army officials said this summer. More than 200 soldiers from the Northeast Recruiting Battalion are to test-wear the prototype this fall, Marlow White, the tailor for Army uniforms, says on its company’s website.

The current working design of the new Army uniform combines many aspects of the iconic World War II uniforms while introducing modern features, the Marlow White website says.

Airmen have long complained that the current service dress uniform looks more like corporate than military attire.

Wright shared an anecdote with Lakenheath airmen about a ceremony in Arlington, Va., where he took a picture with his military counterparts in dress uniform.

“I was like, the Coast Guard guy looks more military than me, man,” he said.

In 2006, informal feedback the Air Force Uniform Board received from airmen on the service dress uniform included “the current uniform resembles a cheesy business suit,” and “think world’s most dominating air power, not CEO.” Another described it as a “cheap leisure suit,” according to a May 2006 Air Force report.

Two prototypes for the heritage coat were developed but shelved, including one with a stand-up collar and another with a belted coat and high lapel.

Any uniform changes would have to be approved by the Air Force chief of staff, in keeping with Air Force guidance.

Stars and Stripes reporter William Howard contributed to this report.


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