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Current Uniform Patches OK for Air Force OCP -- for Now

A guide on the OCP uniform phase-in and what will be allowed in regulation before OCPs become the mandatory Air Force uniform. (U.S. Air Force graphic courtesy of the Air Force Personnel Center)
A guide on the OCP uniform phase-in and what will be allowed in regulation before OCPs become the mandatory Air Force uniform. (U.S. Air Force graphic courtesy of the Air Force Personnel Center)

As the U.S. Air Force phases in the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform across its ranks, it is reminding airmen who've already started wearing the new battle dress uniform that they can wear their current subdued patches until new patches are manufactured in the approved, limited color schemes.

In an announcement last month, the service said patches normally worn day-to-day are authorized until the new mandatory brown subdued patches are available.

A few reminders:

  • The U.S. flag patch is mandatory and will be "subdued using the spice brown color criteria, centered at the top of velcro and worn while in garrison and deployed," according to the announcement.
  • Current subdued black and green U.S. flags may be worn until June 1, 2020. After that, spice brown will be the only accepted version.
  • The higher headquarters patch is mandatory "and will be subdued using the spice brown color criteria and centered under the U.S. flag patch," the announcement said. "The current subdued version of the higher headquarters patch may be worn until the patch color conversion has been completed or until April 1, 2021, whichever is sooner."
  • Airmen may wear a maximum of two patches.

The service is moving to a four-color patch scheme, using spice brown, Bagby green, olive drab and black, Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Carrie Volpe told Military.com last month.

The switch from the Airman Battle Dress uniform to the OCP restored the option for airmen to wear unit patches on their sleeves. Depending on major command or specific unit, some patches were phased out when the battle dress uniform was authorized in 2007.

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Any new patches will be created from the unit's approved Air Force emblem, according to Volpe.

If a unit wants to change its emblem, it "needs to start with their supervisor or unit commander to consult the base's installation historian" to begin the process, she said.

But the patches must remain within the four color scheme. "There are no exceptions," Volpe said.

The service updated Air Force Instruction 36-2903, "Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel," in July to give airmen guidance on how to properly wear OCPs.

For the initial OCP uniform rollout, Air Force major commands, centers and wings will see patches first, "with groups and squadrons a possibility in the future," according to the Air Force release.

The OCP was approved to be worn full-time beginning last Oct. 1. It is expected that all airmen will be wearing the uniform by April 1, 2021.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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