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CSAF Announces Transition To Operational Camouflage Pattern For US Air Force

In a message to the Force, Chief of Staff Gen Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Wright announced the transition from the Digital Tigerstripe Airman Battle Uniform to the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) uniform. While the Air Force refers to it as OCP, they are actually describing the paint job on the Army Combat Uniform. This is the same camouflage pattern adopted several years ago by the US Army for the ACU and is already worn by all Airmen while deployed and by many at home station.

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Along with the adoption of the new uniform, comes the long hoped for return of squadron patches.

For Airmen who already have them, wear guidance is forthcoming to allow their wear beginning 1 Oct 18.

Fellow Airmen –

After careful consideration, we’ve made the decision to transition from the Airmen Battle Uniform (ABU) to the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) uniform. The following factors influenced this important decision for our service:

OCPs have been part of our Air Force uniform inventory since 2012. Over 100K Airmen have been issued OCPs for deployed use in CENTCOM, 100% of our AFSOC Airmen wear it as their standard, and all of AFGSC’s Security Forces members are authorized OCP wear. We are not adopting a new uniform, we are choosing the best of what is already in our inventory and in use.

Surveys of the force indicated that Airmen overwhelmingly prefer OCPs over ABUs for functionality, fit, and wear; specifically:

OCPs work in all climates and across the spectrum of our mission sets. It is equally suitable on a flight line, in a launch control facility, and on a JTAC calling in fires.

OCPs are a better fit for both men and women. We heard loud and clear that the ABU has not been functional or sized correctly for women.

Already in our inventory and in use, the OCP 2-piece flight suit has overwhelming support from aircrew. This uniform will be authorized for all non-ejection seat wear and made available for purchase/issue. In addition, it will be tested for use in ejection seats for those who may prefer it over the one-piece flight suit.

OCPs will become the joint combat uniform for Airmen and Soldiers while patches and nametapes will identify our respective services.  Service distinction will be maintained in our Blues, Service Dress, Mess Dress and PT uniforms.

OCPs allow us to bring back squadron patches and heraldry which is central to our culture as Airmen. While we will no longer allow squadron colored T-Shirts with OCPs, we will celebrate unit integrity with appropriate patches and insignia.

OCP guidance and timelines are available for review on MyPers. In order to allow squadrons to develop patches and ensure the correct accoutrements are available, we have set 1 Oct 18 to begin wearing OCPs for those who have them. Transition details can be found in the guidance.

Thank you for your active engagement and your patience as we made this important decision for our service. We remain committed to listening to you, Airmen in the fight and command teams on point.

We’re proud to serve with you –

DAVID L. GOLDFEIN          
General, USAF Chief of Staff

KALETH O. WRIGHT
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

59 Responses to “CSAF Announces Transition To Operational Camouflage Pattern For US Air Force”

  1. Adun says:

    I guess a lot of airmen are about to be called soldiers in airports now.

    Jokes aside, this is a great move and I now wonder if the Marines are going to be pressured to follow suit. It is a shame every military uniform decision hasn’t been made so rationally.

    • Ed says:

      Why would the USMC be pressured to follow suit? Their MARPAT design works, both in woodland and their poor-mans AOR1 desert.

      • Mike says:

        Why the “poor man’s AOR1 desert”? I wore AOR1 in Afghanistan, and frankly couldn’t tell the difference between it and the USMC pattern at any distance far enough to make it impossible to see the little EGA or ACE in the pattern. And I got called a Marine plenty of times.

        • Ed says:

          It wasn’t meant as a slight. My use of term is how NSW had throw more $$ at it to change up some tones and then reverse the pattern. FYI, I wear it too!

          • Mike says:

            I didn’t take it as a slight. Was just curious. And not the first time SOF threw money at something that worked fine just to make it a little different.

            • Ed says:

              I’m just still wondering what Adun meant by “Marines pressered to follow suit”? I don’t see an issue with current USMC camo or their overall procuremnet of other vital combat implimentations. If anything USMC has been hitting it hard since 2001, too bad other services can’t/won’t “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome” (Clint Eastwood from Heartbreak ridge).

              • TEWT says:

                Wasn’t there a mandate from congress that all services should be working towards a common camo?

              • Will Rodriguez says:

                “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome” (Clint Eastwood from Heartbreak ridge).

                Which was originally written as an Army story depicting actions taken by Army units but changed when the Army waffled on portraying an NCO as non PC. (Facepalm)

      • Adun says:

        Because the more troops the DOD can get using the same pattern and the same uniform the better?

        • Ed says:

          My bad, computer froze up.

          Uh, kinda silly since “We” were all in same uniform pre-2001 and then everyone went crazy. If you look at the Navy/USMC it’s a similar analogy from 1980-2001, one “green” uniform, one “desert” uniform. USA and USAF including Big-dumb Navy all went high and right with ridiculous patterns and B-movie type colors.

          • Adun says:

            I am not sure I am tracking completely. My only point was that it used to be that everyone had the same uniforms with the same pattern, then everyone went pattern crazy like you mentioned, so I believe it is a good thing for the U.S. military to try and get back to everyone having the same uniform unless specific considerations are needed in terms of cut and materials.

            It will make purchasing easier, as well as inventories, etc.

            • Ed says:

              Well, if it’s a quality uniform meaning material, fit and pattern that is effective. However OCP is not. If Army didn’t have horse excrement for brains they would of been wearing Multicam back in 05. Instead they took the opposite approach and AF followed suit. Now over 15 years later they have a better pattern that ACU/ABU but it lack certain color traits and effectiveness of true Multicam. At least AOR1 & 2 plus MARPAT were designed for real operational considerations.

              • Adun says:

                Of course Multicam is the superior option over Scorpion, the latter is a former version of the former, but my understanding was that the only main difference was the lack of the vertical field in the pattern which gave it more depth.

                ACU/ABU are uniform cuts, which wasn’t what I was talking about. UCP/OCP are patterns.

                I am not saying that MARPAT is a bad pattern, but when the Army makes a uniform decision and the Air Force follows suit, it is difficult to argue that all branches shouldn’t jump on the band wagon from a numbers standpoint.

                • Ed says:

                  “it is difficult to argue that all branches shouldn’t jump on the band wagon from a numbers standpoint.”

                  Uh, no it’s not!

                  “..uniform unless specific considerations are needed in terms of cut and materials.”

                  you mention cuts right here, and a lot of folks who actually “get dirty” in in uniform would argue why hasn’t DoD/Natick, or whoever replace the seat “cut” with a gusseted crotch like all Decent built tough-wear.

                  And since when does Army, DoD, any of them care about $$ ? ever heard of the F35 or V2 Osprey?

                  Out.

            • Mike says:

              “It will make purchasing easier, as well as inventories, etc.”

              Probably not as much as you’d think. When the services all started rolling out their own patterns back in the early 2000s, I asked a friend who worked for one of the major supply vendors (and sold uniforms and kit) if this was driving up cost. He said it really wasn’t. The marginal cost of one more set of cammies at ~200,000 (active duty Marines) versus ~2M (all US military active and reserve) is negligible. The cost is in the up-front development of the new patterns, which is measured in millions, not billions… kind of a rounding error in the Pentagon budget.

              The real cost is in the stupidity of all of us walking around in different outfits when we deploy to the same AOR.

              • SSD says:

                He was woefully wrong. It costs money to print all of those different patterns on all of those different fabrics and dye all of those different trims and accessories. All of that adds up. It compounds based on the number of uniforms purchased.

                • Joshua says:

                  Not trying to sound snarky, is cost a big factor? Unlike weapon systems, ammunition, armor, etc. uniforms are purchased by the soldier/Marine. Cost shouldn’t be a large factor compared to other logistical items.
                  Excluding to the wallet of the guy on the ground. But nobody cares about that little guy. haha

                  • SSD says:

                    Yeah, they are. Once PM Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment went over costs of the ACU with me. They explained that a change of as little as $1 per uniform adds up when you consider the planning factor for the Army is upwards of 1 million. Each Soldier has four ACUs. Regardless of what account pays for the ACU in the end, they are all purchased through DLA so the up front cost is there.

          • Pete says:

            Am I in some bizarro universe?

            The Corps started the 00’s Uniform Wars by going their own way and specifically did so in an “EGA” way that was a F-U to the rest of the services. Basically they wanted to be distinct from the blobby Three Color DCU and classy M81 Woodland while reducing visual signature. How much USMC tactical necessity drove the appearance issues is the only debate…. and that is the way you get a Congressional mandate on a single uniform pattern.

            That really does not excuse the resulting Army Universally Crappy pattern from Natick or Digital TigerStank, but can we at least accurately portray the predicate history?

  2. GAND!S says:

    I feel special now.

  3. DSM says:

    The AF is going to go back to being patch happy again. The only thing positive the ABU had was that it was kept clean. But, small price to pay for a far better uniform.

    • SSD says:

      They’ll be on the sleeves.

    • bloke_from_ohio says:

      The USAF never really quit the patch thing though. Ground personnel might have had “clean” uniforms, but the aircrew guys still had/have patches galore. It is not like the USAF

      Like the venerable flight suit, the OCP uses Velcro. Dealing with the requisite increase in flair should be easier than taking all your stuff to the sew shop every time you switch units. The patches are also on the shoulders not the chest pockets like the olden times.

      • DSM says:

        The zippered suited sun god is rarely seen without the requisite amount of flair.

    • Ryan says:

      Having been an Airman who works more with the Army than my own branch I have this input:

      A huge cultural difference between the two branches is Unit pride and identification. Back in the BDU days you could identify Soldiers and Airmen by the patches they wore. You could tell a troops life story just looking at them. They carried themselves a little better because of that. You also didn’t want to get caught being a dummy with certain patches on….word got around that way.

      But ABU’s destroyed that. It started an age where Airman became what the AF wanted them to be. Cookie cutter, replaceable, relocatable, plug and play, and anonymous. Squadron Patches and imagery are rarely seen outside of items sold for unit fundraising. The only Squadron Logos walking around are tokens Airmen had to BUY to keep in their pocket…just to show a little pride in their unit.

      Squadron Patches need to come back to the non-flying enlisted community. This

      • DSM says:

        I too also spent much, much time as a blue suiter amongst the Army green. I don’t discount unit pride. Getting to sew on our flags during the IFOR days was a big deal in itself. I would, however, say being special and unique throws in the face the very definition of uniform.
        My comment is mostly from having experienced the pre-ASNP days of the AF BDU wherein you’d see airmen with various patches on both breast pockets and above on the right, in addition to specialty badges and stripes. All stitched in the various blues, browns, red, blacks and other hues of unit insignia. It was a camouflaged Boy Scout merit badge revival, in my humble opinion of course. The execution of patches on the AF adoption of OCP seems not so bad I will freely admit.
        Just for gee whiz, I’d have kept stripes on the sleeves. Why? Enlisted heritage. We’ve always had them there and were the last service to keep them on the field uniform. Unit insignia can go on an “operator” style hat.

        • SSD says:

          AF Enlisted would have had to adopt small stripes like the old female versions in order to fit on the ACU.

          • DSM says:

            Still workable, again in my humble opinion.

            • Ton E says:

              Respectfully disagree there’s a reason sleeve stripes went away in the other branches utility uniforms.

  4. G3SM says:

    Finally. The ABU’s are an abomination that should never have passed any sort of review process (let alone the lies about it foisted by USAF itself regarding its design/adoption). A return to camouflage from distinctoflage is a good thing.

  5. Stefan S. says:

    Camouflage for AF is like camouflage for Seamen in the engine room.

  6. Ton E says:

    Hallelujah

  7. rotorhd says:

    The USAF Blueish Grey digital tiger stripes were dumb when they came in and are still dumb now. It is even stupider than the Army’s black beret debacle. Thank God that is over. The Chiefs and Commanders who concocted and implemented this eyesore need to have their retirement checks revoked, immediately. Wasting our tax dollars.

    Now the short lived nonsense I see is all the office pencil pushing types getting the “OCPs” first while folks who actually doing good work for God and Country in the USAF receiving them last. Oh well at least they will be getting them, eventually.

    • EODFish says:

      Those of us “doing work” have been wearing multicam for years anyways. If someone could explain why we are sticking with green socks though, that would be great.

      • rotorhd says:

        I have been wearing on deployments since 2011 but wearing regular uniforms CONUS.

        Where what socks you want….. Nobody cares and if they do care what socks you where. They are incompetent.

        • rotorhd says:

          EODFish,

          I revise my reply to you.

          If you are EOD, maybe you should be more selective on your sock selection. Flame Retardant? I don’t know.

          Good luck doing God’s work,

          rotorhd

      • Ex11A says:

        I still have green woolen socks from 1988. Why do you not like green socks? Which color would you prefer?

        • EODFish says:

          You sort of made my point for me. For years we have been issuing “brown” socks to go with “brown” boots. If they last that long, why not continue allowing the socks that technically match.

          RotorHD, I agree. If anyone even sees my socks I have already failed in dressing myself. Thanks for the tip though, I never put any thought into if my socks are FR.

  8. will sew 4 kit says:

    Anyone know where this photo was taken? and are those MH-6 helos?
    USAF inventory?
    asking for a friend…

  9. Willicapipe says:

    Ahhhhh here it comes Marines… resistance is futile, you will be assimilated (you too Navy). That is unless you plan to NEVER get rid of the MCCU or FROG uniform.

    Sure, MARCORSYSCOM will try and tweak the aforementioned uniforms but it’ll be a hard sell and if you do slide it by, the GAO will put their proverbial boot so far up your forth point of contact the water on their knee will quench your thirst.

    I chortle at the argument the Marines will try to make to do otherwise.

    It’s about time to get with the program, jump on the team, and come on in for the big win.

    It’ll be just like the 80’s through the late 90’s. Except instead of woodland BDUs, PASGT and ALICE, it’ll be OCP, whatever PPE the Army is fielding and MOLLE.

    It’s easy to be hard… it’s hard to be smart.

    • Lose_Game says:

      Is that a good thing though? The Army consistently fails to provide good equipment to its troops. If the USMC is chained to the Army in terms of individual equipment procurement, they’ll be dragged along with whatever the future holds–the new vest based on a failed USMC prototype, a “20x superior combat rifle”, etc. The MOLLE II pack system is less-than-ideal, as are the IOTV gen 3 and 4, as was “Army Universal”, as was the Massif combat shirt, the list goes on.

      I’d be all for the services being on the same page if their choices made sense, but they don’t. If they did the Army would be in Multicam and Eagle plate carriers a decade ago.

  10. pbr549 says:

    What about all the different colored baseball caps?

  11. Junior says:

    The camouflage uniform fuckery over the past 15 years or so has been a carnival of idiocy.

    The only thing good to come out of it was much better boots and choices for boots.

  12. sjl777 says:

    Who gets to wear the Air Commando tab and what are the qualifications for the tab? The graphic references the item in an inset on the right side.

  13. Evan says:

    6 SOS. They attend 4-6 months of language training at JFK Center on Ft. Bragg, then 3 months of skills and operational training at Hurlburt. Apparently the squadron incorporates 37 different AFSCs, including Combat Aviation Advisors, and their mission is indiginous air force building.

  14. Ex11A says:

    So they are giving up the pea soup green boots and wearing Army boots, plus they are wearing subdued American flags all the time? Holy cow, that’s smart. Plus, if I’m reading the chart right, USAF personnel can wear Army SSI-FWS (combat patches) on the right sleeve, if earned. Cool.

    • SSD says:

      Only whole assigned to the FW-SSI awarding unit, but folks wear them all of the time.

      • rotorhd says:

        SSD,

        I believe the AFI says only wear of FW-SSI when only assigned to Army units. It is the same for Army awarded badges such as the Air Assault Badge and Rangar tabs. AFSOC may have additional guidance that I am not aware of. However, I see lots of USAF folks wearing them (which I’m absolutely fine with it but some chiefs chaff at it).

        Note: I’m prior Army, as is half my Sqn, w/ FW-SSI and Air Assault Badge but now USAF.

        • GAND!S says:

          Actually army badges are authorized for wear. As it the Ranger tab specifically.