A leaked slide presentation has revealed that the U.S. Air Force may soon ditch its Airman Battle Uniform in favor of the the Army Combat Uniform.
Army Combat Uniform
As Military.com notes, the presentation, titled “ABU to ACU-OCP Transition Decision,” was posted to a Facebook page called Air Force Amn/Nco/Snco on Friday. It shows that the Air Force could announce a move to the Army Combat Uniform and its Operational Camouflage Pattern on June 1. The service is currently awaiting a decision on the issue from Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.
The presentation also offers up two different timelines—Oct. 1, 2018 and Oct. 1, 2019—and three transition periods—24, 36 or 48 months—for fielding the uniform. If the service wants to begin on Oct. 1 2018 and chooses the 24-month transition option, the cost would be $450 million. The 36-month option would be $290 million, while the 48-month transition would cost $140 million. Should the service instead choose to start on Oct. 1, 2019, the 24-month option would drop to $400 million. A 36-month goal would run the service $250 million. The least expensive option would be to do a 48-month transition at a cost of $125 million.
Some of the “key obstacles” for the switch as outlined in the presentation include industry’s ability to meet the timeline; building stock levels for uniforms, boots, accessories, and equipment for a simultaneous rollout; Institute of Heraldry’s ability to develop full patch/accoutrement inventories for MAJCOMs, Wings and more; and organizing an ABU buy back and disposal program.
In an email to Military.com, USAF spokesman Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff confirmed Air Force leaders were considering options for a new utility uniform.
“We regularly review uniform policy and gather feedback from airmen via a number of channels. One recommendation has been the movement from ABUs to ACUs,” Atanasoff said. “The Air Force uniform policy team and senior leaders are currently considering this feedback and working on possible courses of action.
According to Stars and Stripes, OCPs are already worn by airmen who deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan and in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Airmen at Yokota Air Base in Japan told the publication they supported the idea of wearing MultiCam.
“It’s the best thing ever,” said Staff Sgt. Jed Campbell, air transportation craftsman for the 730th Air Mobility Squadron. “Wearing [MultiCam] was something to look forward to about deploying to Afghanistan. They’re so much more comfortable.”