Tactical Tailor

USAF Updates OCP Fielding

Photo: SrA Sandra Welch

Last Friday, the US Air Force released an article on the fielding of Army OCIE in OCP (MultiCam) for deploying Airmen. Referred to as JET (joint expeditionary tasking) Airmen, more than 180 of them assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Teams and other taskings are wearing the OEF Camouflage Pattern (OCP).

Interestingly, the article refers to the OCP FR ACU as the, “Joint Service Solution Uniform.” This is a first for us. While PEO Soldier regularly speaks of looking for Joint Service Solutions, even they haven’t placed that monicker on OCP lest they derail their ongoing search for a new family of camouflage patterns.

We’ve written about this plan before. Unfortunately, the Air Force still hasn’t gotten their facts right on the difference between the Army’s OCP OCIE and their own, internally developed Airman Battle System – Ground (ABS-G). For example, the article claims, “The uniform gives Airmen unique benefits and features that the Airman Battle System-Ground and Airman Battle Uniform cannot deliver.” Sure, the ABU is such a failure, the Air Force has already changed the design of the coat once and is getting ready to field an entirely new fabric story for the uniform, but the ABS-G is very popular with Combat Airmen. It’s really just the Digital Tigerstripe pattern that is the problem. So, we’ll chalk this claim up to visual camouflage.

The article goes on this same vein, “OCPs have a more advanced camouflage pattern that blends in with the Afghan terrain, making our Airmen safer and more effective on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Shawna McGowan, the Air Force future programs branch chief. “The material is also flame resistant, lighter weight than the ABS-G or ABU, and contains a pre-applied bug repellant.”

Not completely true. The fabric used in the ABS-G’s field uniform component is the same as used in the Army’s A2CU and is lighter and more breathable than that used in the FR ACU. However, it is not quite as durable, nor does it contain permethrin to keep the bugs at bay. However, the ABS-G is a total system that incorporates FR insulation layers. This is something that the Army’s currently fielded solution does not provide. Fielding the Army’s Gen III ECWCS in lieu of a complete ABS-G developed under the FIRESAFE program puts Airmen at danger of flame threats. The alternative is to issue Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE) to each deploying Airmen.

As you can see in the photo above, the Air Force chose to go their own path in regards to insignia and use “spice brown” colored name and service tapes as well as enlisted ranks rather than the Army’s black lettering. Looks good.

Overall, we are pleased with the direction the Air Force is heading. But, a lot of time and money was spent developing a unique Air Force solution for Airmen. Air Force personnel, ask for a MultiCam version of the ABS-G. The Airman Battle Shirt is already available from producer Massif in OCP. There is no reason for the Air Force to abandon the currently issued FR cold and inclement weather clothing developed under ABS-G. Finally, don’t forget to just ask for a new, useful camouflage pattern for both home station and deployed environments. Maybe it should be MultiCam and maybe it should be something else, but regardless, it shouldn’t be the current Digital Tigerstripe.

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13 Responses to “USAF Updates OCP Fielding”

  1. RADAR says:

    Hopefully someone in the Air Force leadership is paying attention to how well multicam is going over with airmen and finally realizes this should be our deployed and home camo, tho i doubt it

  2. Reserve CSAR Rigger says:

    Every time I have to put my ABU uniform I just shake my head at it’s complete and total failure. There’s a reason why the PJ’s in my unit wear multicam and not ABU’s. Can’t wait to get my hands on a set of multicam when I deploy this spring. Loving the above picture.

    p.s. The USAF Uniform Board needs to hurry up and pop their heads out of whichever orifice it’s stuck in…

  3. Nightcrawler says:

    I am wearing the OCP fatigues right now. These are legit ones issued during predeployment spinup, not Crye or basic NY/CO Multicam uniforms.

    Accoding to the tag, they’re treated with Permethrin and are supposed to repel insects. We literally jus got these, so we’ll see how well that works.

    The OCPs have a more useful pocket configuration than the ABS-Gs.

  4. RMCFrank says:

    Oh Permethrin works my friend. Can’t say your babies won’t look funny when they’re born but it does make a difference. Not so much for mosquitoes, but definitely for the ”crawlies” like ticks and whatnot.

  5. Administrator says:


    Could you expound a little more on your feelings ref the pocket configuration differences?


  6. Nightcrawler says:

    Certainly. (I’m USAF EOD, by the by.) The ABS-G has a pocket comfiguratiom much like the ABU; straight top pockets and useless bott pockets. It also still has a button closure, which can be annoying, as the IOTV always wants to push that one top button into your sternum. (Obviously not an issue with the combat shirt.)

    The zipper arm pockets are fine but the OCP pockets are larger. The leg cargo pockets are bellowed, whereas they’re not on the ABS-G.

    We got Massif cold weather ABSG gear in the AF camo pattern for our cold wether ensemble. Poor colorway not withstanding, everyone that’s used it says the ABSG cold weather gear is great stuff.

    Interestingly enough, we were told the AF green boots aren’t allowed with the OCPs. After November, the tan boots won’t be authorized with the ABU. Tan boots aren’t on most units’ ESL, so they have to ne purchased on top of everything else. I’m probably the only dude in the Air Force that doesn’t hate the green boots. But even if you do hate them, not allowing URL to be worn by deployers while not supplying an alternative is just silly.

    Interestingly, there isn’t yet any guidance on shoulder patches. We all wear reversed flags on the right pocket flap like the Army does, and most wear EOD patches on the left pocket flap, bit other than that we don’t have anything. That will change eventually, I’m sure. A lot of guys will west the patch of the Army unit they’re supporting, if the local Army honcho okays it.

    Persoanally, I’d like us to get some patches of our own and be allowed to show some unit/occupational/whatever pride for once.

    Rest assured, when I’m SECoAF I’ll fix all of these uniform issues. LOL

  7. Nightcrawler says:

    Please forgive the odd typos. I’m tapping this out on my iPhone and autocorrect is kicking my butt.

  8. Al says:

    All Navy IA’s will be getting Multicam as well. Priority will be those who are out at PRTs or conducting missions. Several are already wearing them in the Kabul area.

  9. Administrator says:

    Nightcrawler, good stuff.

  10. PJ says:

    If the AF PRT and JET taskers are getting MC, where the hell did mine go? Thank god I had previous MC from a prior deployment, because the AF failed a number people on JET taskings to provide MC for their deployments since it was approved.

  11. eodhands says:

    I am USAF EOD. I have been here in Afghanistan for a few months now and we have had OCPs since March. I like the Air Force trying to be all hooyah about how badass they are. The Air Force just happens to be a bit behind the times on this one. Unless of course they don’t count us as Air Force anymore.

  12. Nightcrawler says:

    I think EOD were among, if not the, first guys to get the Army OCP fatigues. (AFSOC guys have been wearing Multicam for a while, but not specifically that uniform I think.)

    I got talked at for having an unauthorized patch today. I got away with it for over a week until some doucher pointed it out to an SNCO. Heh, LOL. I don’t think there’s much in the way of patch regulations for AF guys in the OCPs yet. You’re allowed to wear the patch of the Army unit you’re embedded with, if you want, and a “combat patch” on the other arm too, but it’s not mandatory.

    Unless, of course, you’re supporting the Marines, in which case you get no patches because they don’t have any. And they’re sure as hell not going to give you an EGA. LOL

    Personally, I think they should make the OCP AFI the same as it is for flight suits. All the patch regs say is that organizational patches can be worn on the shoulders, and the velco squares are a certain size. That’s it. It’s up to the commanders to figure out what they want their guys to wear.

    Wearing patches can be a good thing. It allows for things like unit/service/occupational pride, something the AF decided wasn’t that important when it went to the ABU.

    You know, I love the USAF, and wouldn’t want to be in another service, but you REALLY have to have a sense of humor about this stuff. Having been in two different services, though, I can honestly say the inanity of military bureaucracy will follow you no matter where you go. The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but I guarantee that over there there’s still some bored E-8 with nothing better to do than chew your ass for having an unauthorized belt.

  13. Nightcrawler says:

    The BEST thing about the OCP is that unlike the ABU (and to a lesser extent the ACU), it isn’t freaking stupid looking. It’s practical, sure, and being flame retardant is a bonus, but having a serious-looking uniform to wear is good for morale. Nobody wants to wear a dumb uniform. (Except, I guess, whoever came up with the ABU.)