Uniform opens new Air Force history chapter

Capt. Jason Medina
U.S. Air Force National Media Outreach

Future Air Force historians could easily label 2004 as the Year of Decision.
We have taken this year by the horns and renewed our vows to physical fitness, paved a road toward transformation and set aggressive force-shaping goals to get back to our “fighting weight,” and we continue to make tough choices about what America’s Air Force will look like in the future.
Enter the proposed new utility uniform. For the past year, more than 620 Airmen at 30-plus locations have been experimenting with a replacement to our battle dress uniform. A popular, though unlikely, alternative would have been to authorize “any black undershirt” and make the so-called “blouse” optional within the workplace. This ensemble, though fashionable, would be hardly standardized, and it certainly wouldn’t be distinguished.
Airmen deserve an Air Force-unique uniform. I still cringe at having to list the nuanced differences between Air Force- and Army-style BDUs to curious bystanders, and I look forward to a new uniform that all Airmen, whether in a military personnel flight or a munitions maintenance shop, wear with pride every day.
Currently, our senior leaders are soliciting our feedback through an online survey, the results of which will help determine the next Air Force “look.”
Since we generally don’t get to cast votes for Air Force policy, it is notable that we’re being asked to provide input into what we wear to work every day. And it is a decision we shouldn’t take lightly, because the stakes are high.
A uniform tells a story: Bright orange jumpsuits will forever identify the incarcerated, tuxedos identify the celebrated and square, tasseled caps are reserved for the educated.
For almost 57 years of aiming high and crossing into the blue, Air Force utility uniforms have identified us predominantly by our Army-based heritage.
It is time to write the next chapter of the Air Force story, and our inputs are important in the decision-making process.
Let’s do our part and complete the online survey to help ensure our new utility uniform identifies us not by where we came from, but for where the Air Force is going.
Our future identity depends on it.