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No Secret Message in New Uniform Announcement, Air Force Says

The U.S. Air Force is adopting the Army's Operational Camouflage Pattern as its new combat uniform and will begin incrementally phasing it in beginning Oct. 1. The Air Force will differentiate itself from the Army by using a "spice brown color" for velcro patches, name tape and insignia. Courtesy of Air Force
The U.S. Air Force is adopting the Army's Operational Camouflage Pattern as its new combat uniform and will begin incrementally phasing it in beginning Oct. 1. The Air Force will differentiate itself from the Army by using a "spice brown color" for velcro patches, name tape and insignia. Courtesy of Air Force

Conspiracy theorists, stand down.

There are no subliminal messages in photos showing the U.S. Air Force's new OCP uniform, service officials say. Images released with the rollout of the new camouflage last week showed an airman pictured from the neck down, sporting a "Snowden" nametape.

Readers couldn't help speculating about the use of the infamous name. Some wondering why an organization which promotes "operational security" would allude to Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee responsible for one of the greatest information leaks in U.S. history.

"SNOWDEN? [Whose] freakin' idea was that? Russian military uniform perhaps?" one reader wrote on Facebook.

"Anyone wondering why the name tape says "Snowden"? Just curious," said a few others.

Military.com received dozens of messages asking whether or not this was intentional; others asked if the Air Force was perhaps signaling Edward Snowden in some way.

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In one particularly improbable theory, a reader even asked if, by donning the new uniform, service leaders such as Chief Master Sgt of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright are secretly signalling support for Snowden and his actions.

But have no fear. There is no conspiracy afoot.

According to Air Force officials, Senior Master Sgt. Snowden is a real person. Officials did not disclose her first name. Snowden was a model of opportunity, officials said; her uniform was crisp and clean enough for photographers to snap a few pictures of her when the service needed someone to step up to the plate for the photo array.

The service announced last Monday it will adopt the Army's Operational Camouflage Pattern as its new combat uniform and will begin incrementally phasing it in beginning Oct. 1.

The service is axing its Airman Battle Uniform, known as the ABU, for the OCP over the next three years, with the expectation that all airmen will be wearing the OCP by April 2021.

The three-year transition is expected to cost the service about $237 million.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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