Skip to comments.New AF Dress Coat Left Flapping in the Wind
Posted on 09/28/2008 7:09:24 PM PDT by hattend
New AF Dress Coat Left Flapping in the Wind
It could just be that the Air Force is entering an era that, in part, will be defined by what will not be a hot-button issue: uniforms.
"First things first," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz responded Sept. 17 when asked by Military.com whether uniforms -- new ones or modifications to current dress -- will be relegated to the back burner during his tenure.
Schwartz, who had just listened as his major command chiefs offered up a list of things the Air Force needs today-right-now-thank-you-very much -- including new tankers, more manpower, new tankers, upgrades and maintenance to mobility and fighter planes and, oh yeah, new tankers -- said the Air Force has any number of critical programs it must tackle.
Maybe, at some point down the road, when these other things have been taken care of, he said, uniforms may again be on the agenda.
For now, Schwartz does have to deal with proposed uniform changes that he inherited, including the adoption of a new service dress uniform modeled after one worn by legendary airman Hap Arnold.
The Air Force has a long record of changing or tweaking its uniforms. Acting Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley made a humorous reference to this fact on Monday, the opening day of the Air Force Association's Air and Space Symposium in Washington, D.C. The Air Force dress uniform only recently underwent a change, with the addition of a belt to the jacket, and Donley noted that the last time he worked for the Air Force, as an assistant secretary and then acting secretary in 1993, the uniform went through major changes under then Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak.
He said he would answer questions today about uniforms the same way he answered them back then: "Ask the chief."
Schwartz last month decided to defer until sometime next year a decision on a Hap Arnold-esque service coat. The proposed jacket came out of a 2006 uniform board under Schwartz's predecessor, Gen. T. Michael Moseley.
Some uniform changes have been greeted critically by airmen -- including a proposed blue cammie BDU several years ago -- who argue that the Air Force has more important issues facing it than whether it should have a belt on a service dress jacket or whether BDUs should come with a permanent crease.
The proposed new dress jacket will cost about $125 million to manufacture if it's approved, the Air Force estimated.
-- Bryant Jordan
When I was in the Mighty United States Air Force back in the early 1960s, there were several “uniform” mixes. We still had the 505 khakis with shortsleeved shirts, then 1505s, with smaller chevrons; blues with both blouses and Ike jackets; garrison and The Other Kind of hats; sage grey/green fatigues (Army fatigues were also authorized); tan colored dacrons; bush jackets/bermuda shorts/knee high khaki socks/low quarter shoes and pith helmets; and my favorite, the blue wool shirts/trousers, with or without the tie. I missed the era of longsleeved khakis. I always thought that eventually the USAF Class A uniform would evolve into a blue blazer w/slacks, grey, and the insignia of rank would be a lapel pin.
Take a look at the US Army Air Service uniforms and you’ll see a lot of similarities in the design.
...and the Marines?
The Hulk .... big, green and breaking stuff :)
I like my ABU’s, leave the service dress alone. It works.
Hmmmmmmm. That works.
Nahh, that USAF uniform strikes me as more the work of Battlestar Galactica fans.
The Air Force should just go ahead and base all of their uniforms on the show. :o)
I've worn high collar dress uniforms - both 'blouses' (equivalent to this jacket, but with a zipper down the frong and no pockets, fitted to the body) and coatees (the tail coat with oodles of buttons) at VMI - and I have to say they look good but are not particularly comfortable.
I kinda like it. Collars and ties are soooo....French.
AF Mess Dress is pretty sharp because it's so well-tailored, but we called our baggy blue service dress "bus driver suits".
A quick reality check is in order.
Over the last 35 odd years I have seen chiefs of staff come and chief of staff go. Most of them truly wanted to make needed changes to our Air Force. All of them quickly learned that needed changes can not happen. They get eaten alive by the REMF staff.
The days of Hap Arnold, Curtis LeMay and other fire breathing paladins are gone. The war time pit bull mentality has been replaced with yapping lap dogs. The bad part is we did it to ourselves starting 30 years ago.
Someone in the mid-1970s decided that AF officers were no longer leaders but managers. I am sorry but I have never met a manager who could order his employees to live in tents, wear battle rattle, and if they fail to follow orders fine and confine them. Plus, if things get bad enough, ruin their entire future. But the REFMs that had no idea what combat was about were the experienced staff officers that all needed changes had to pass through.
The influence of the REFMs got so bad that the AF designed a special badge to be worn on the uniforms so you can distinguish between senior officer who commanded and one who shuffled paper.
What combat officers that made it to high ranks quickly found out that the only thing they could change during their tour of duty was the uniform. So we have horror story after horror story of unnecessary changes. Remember the early 1980s dress white and dress blue uniforms designed to fill the gap between the class A blues and mess dress? A double knit white uniform, shoes, and hat. ATC was forcing their field grade officers to buy the Good Humor uniform before cooler heads prevailed. How about the seams that were stiched into the flight suit because the flight suit didnt look professional enough? How about silver and gold stars worn on the flight suit cuffs to denote flying hours and combat hours?
And dont start me on logo wars.
Bottom line - because of the proliferation of REMF staff warriors we have allowed ourselves to become so tied up in paperwork knots that the only changes that a Chief of Staff can accomplish in four years is a new uniform or uniform change! The days of firing subordinates for poor performance are gone - much better to destroy an airplane and kill a crew than ruin a mans career.
I always thought the other branches had the AF whipped when it comes to dress uniforms. It's too hard to make dark blue look good. They've been tinkering with it for years, and never get it right.
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