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Air Force Seeking Comment on New BDUs
By Vince Little
Stars and Stripes
Pacific Edition

July 20, 2004

WASHINGTON - Pacific airmen have mixed reactions to the blue, gray and green tiger-stripe camouflage attire being tested as a potential replacement for the woodland-pattern battle dress uniform.

But now, they can tell the Air Force what they think about the new threads through a worldwide online survey.

More than 620 servicemembers at 32 locations are wearing the new utility uniform on a trial basis, according to the Air Force’s Web site. Some say it’s reminiscent of the old all-green fatigues that troops had to tuck in. It has many features designed to enhance functionality and provide a unique look for airmen of the 21st century.

Officials will use survey feedback before deciding whether to make the new uniforms a permanent part of the Air Force’s wardrobe.

Staff Sgt. Melissa Bell of the 18th Medical Group at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, says she hasn’t filled out the survey but is impressed by the new look.

“I’m ready to put it on,” she said, adding that it distinguishes the Air Force as cutting-edge and a leader among the armed forces.

Bell said she likes that the new uniforms come in two sets of standard sizes: one tailored for women, one for men. “I’ve always had to get my uniforms altered because of the female figure,” she said. “Also, we’ll save money from not having to get uniforms dry cleaned. That’s going to be good for us to wash and wear it. That’s more money in our pockets.”

Senior Airman Talisha Simon, from Kadena’s Military Equal Opportunity Office, said she couldn’t wait to check out the new uniform.

“I think change is good sometimes,” Simon said. “We’re in a society of change and we all want to improve. … This uniform’s colors represent the Air Force and distinguishes our colors in the field and in various places.”

Airman 1st Class Christine Johnson of the 607th Air Intelligence Squadron at Osan Air Base, South Korea, has been wearing the new uniform for almost four months. She volunteered to wear it as part of the test at her previous duty station in the United States.

“The uniform is very comfortable,” said Johnson, who completed the survey in about 10 minutes. “It’s more breathable than the BDUs … wash it, dry it, take it out … and if there are any wrinkles … they’re gone by the end of the day … it’s real convenient.”

She gets a few stares around Osan, where the woodland green BDUs still are worn.

“I’ve been getting mixed comments,” Johnson added. “Half-and-half. Everybody likes the idea of wash-and-wear. But color — mostly females like the color. A lot of males dislike the color. I guess, maybe it looks girly to them, but I’m not quite sure.”

Don’t count Staff Sgt. Timothy Smith of Osan’s 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron among them.

“I think it looks a little bit better. A little more eye-catching,” said Smith, who said he also thinks it’ll put a stop to people thinking he’s in the Army.

Others aren’t as fond of the proposed switch.

“Blue is kind of a strange color — especially for a combat uniform,” said Capt. Greg Davis of the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan. “Seems like it would stand out too much in a negative sort of way.

“It’s not so much the style, but the color scheme is a deal-breaker. It’s an odd look. It would have suspect functionality in a combat environment.”

Staff Sgt. Larry Sims of Osan’s 51st Maintenance Squadron, who took the survey in May, also prefers the BDUs. It’s the “blue and gray tiger stripes” that don’t appeal to him, he said.

“Just the colors. The blue doesn’t seem too combat-orientated,” he added.

Airman 1st Class James Kennedy of Yokota’s 374th Civil Engineer Squadron hadn’t heard about the survey and was indifferent about the new appearance.

“It’s just another uniform we’ve got to buy,” he said. “I don’t understand the point of getting blue ones.

“They’re fine. I just don’t like the hat. It’s a five-star point like they wear in the Army, Marines and Navy. I don’t care too much about that.”

The feedback form can be completed at www.af.mil/uniform/.


— Franklin Fisher and Mark Rankin contributed to this report.

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This article is provided courtesy of Stars & Stripes, which got its start as a newspaper for Union troops during the Civil War, and has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and 1945 in the Pacific. Stripes reporters have been in the field with American soldiers, sailors and airmen in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo, and are now on assignment in the Middle East.

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Copyright 2004 Stars & Stripes. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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