ABU: The basics on the new look of the Air Force

Courtesy of the 435th Mission Support Squadron

The Airman Battle Uniform replaces the BDU and the DCU with a mandatory wear date of October 2011. By June 2008, the ABU should be available for purchase at all AAFES military clothing sales.

Clothing allowances will increase to accommodate increased expenses beginning in October.

***image1***ABUs issued as deployment uniforms can not be worn until the area of responsibility deployment commences; however, when the member returns to homestation, if the ABU is still serviceable, they may continue to wear them. But, mix matching BDU and ABU accessories is forbidden.

Some ABUs issued or purchased through AAFES appear to have some shade variances, but they are all within the shade tolerance specifications set by the Air Force. The different shades variances are authorized.

ABUs purchased by the member at a military clothing sales store, where available, may be worn immediately; however, they should be aware clothing allowances will not be increased until October and they will personally incur the extra cost if purchased early.

Basic uniform items will be the ABU coat, ABU trouser, ABU patrol cap, sand color T-shirt and desert tan boots (until foliage green boots are issued at a later, to-be-determined, date). The new Air Force All Purpose Environmental Camouflage Parka, similar to the BDU Goretex, as well as the ABU rain jacket will be available through AAFES.

Green boot socks will be worn; other color socks can be worn, but can not be visible. Black gloves, scarf, stocking cap, ear muffs, backpacks and gym bags will continue to be authorized until foliage green versions become available.

Unit/organizational patches and commander insignia patches are not authorized on the ABU.  Mandatory badges (aeronautical, chaplain), and mandatory duty shields for force protection and fire protection are required. Enlisted rank insignias may be pressed when sewn onto the uniform sleeves to establish a crease line to the center of the insignia. Wear of aeronautical and specialty badges on the ABU follow the same rules as the BDU. Enlisted women wear 3 ½ or 4- inch chevron and enlisted men wear 4-inch chevron. No other duty badges will be authorized or worn.  Occupational badges are optional, but encouraged.

The ABU cap is the mandatory ABU headgear; the only exceptions are currently authorized berets, MTI headgear and the booney hat for deployed personnel in the AOR.  Officers wear the regular-sized cloth or subdued metal grade insignia on the front of the cap.

ABU pant legs must be bloused over the top of combat boots. Black boots will not be authorized at any time with the ABU.  Tan boots can be used until the green boots become readily available; a phase out date will be announced at a later date.

ABU’s are to be washed in warm water, removed immediately from dryer and folded flat or placed on a rustproof hanger. Starching or dry-cleaning the ABU is prohibited. Starching uniforms makes the uniform material more brittle and subsequently reduces the wear life. The permanent press and near infrared features of this uniform will be damaged by starching, commercial pressing and additives in the washing process.

The ABU is not authorized for travel on commercial aircraft, but is authorized for MILAIR.