AF, Navy tackling updated uniforms
July 4, 2003
ARLINGTON, Va. — Both the Air Force and the Navy have embarked on projects to update uniforms, especially the working uniforms that are the backbone of servicemembers’ wardrobes.
Air Force officials plan to unveil a prototype working uniform later this summer that might replace the “battle dress uniform,” or BDUs, donned by all personnel not authorized to wear the one-piece flight suits reserved for pilots and flight crews.
Army personnel also wear BDUs, and Air Force officials “want something more distinctive” for airmen, Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens said in a telephone interview.
The Air Force will conduct a fit-and-wear test of the uniform later this year that will last six to 12 months and possibly longer, depending on user feedback, Stephens said.
The Navy, meanwhile, is preparing to develop two new uniforms: a working uniform that can be worn by every sea servicemember, from E-1s through flag officers; and a year-round service uniform for ranks E-1 through E-6.
Today, enlisted sailors working on ships wear blue denim jeans and blue chambray work shirts, and all-white summer or Navy blue winter service uniforms. Working officers wear “khakis” — dust-colored trousers and a matching shirt.
The Navy uniform project is actually larger in scope than just developing two uniforms. The ultimate goal is to simplify and streamline the “sea bag” of required uniforms and the rules that govern their wear, Navy officials said.
Officials are also planning to survey the fleet this summer to solicit general feedback on the sea bag and Navy uniform regulations. Once the survey is complete, a “Task Force U” team will offer recommendations and a timeline for implementing new uniforms and regulations to the Chief of Naval Operations by Oct. 1.
The last service to go through a major uniform redesign was the Marine Corps, which in 2002 adopted “digital cammies” — BDUs that feature a computer-generated camouflage pattern.
The Army is also working on new BDU design to be worn by “Objective Force” soldiers after 2010.