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The next transition from ABUs to OCPs: What to expect

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE --

The next transition before the final uniform change from the Airman Battle Uniform to the newly regulated Operation Camouflage Pattern combat uniform will be effective June 1, 2020, for all Airmen.

“We are coming up on a big milestone requirement this year, as far as OCP wear,” said Tech. Sgt. Tyler A. Highfill, Air Force Global Strike Command Airman Leadership School instructor. “On June 1, Airmen will be required to wear only a coyote brown T-shirt with the OCP uniform. Additionally, all boots must be coyote brown. The spice brown U.S. flag patch will be the only authorized version of the U.S. Flag to wear and only DLA-issued green socks or coyote brown socks may be worn while in the OCP Uniform.”

Highfill says that officers will be required to wear a spice brown rank insignia, with exception of first lieutenants and lieutenant colonels, who will use the black threading variant.

Currently, Airmen who had already begun wearing OCPs were authorized to wear the desert sand T-shirt, green socks and subdued black and green cloth U.S. flag patches with the new uniform.

As the final date approaches, Airmen are encouraged to start buying their uniforms now, as it can be costly.

“Most Airman will have to purchase their own OCPs with the clothing allowance they are provided,” said Master Sgt. Michael A. Sumner, 377th Medical Group first sergeant.

Sumner advised Airmen to make the most of the last of the allotted time to get their uniforms before the final date.

 “Typical practice is to have four sets of uniforms available at all times,” said Highfill. “Purchasing uniforms over time is, of course, the best option to meet stricter budgets. I’d recommend buying a set at a time, saving over two or three months if necessary.”

Airmen can also expect to see about a $20 increase in their clothing allowance per uniform for the 2020 fiscal year, said Highfill.

“For those of us that have been in longer than three years, we’re looking at $549.71 for clothing allowance, known as the standard allowance,” said Highfill. “For those with less than three years, you’re looking at $428.77 for clothing allowance, known as basic allowance.”

Airmen have 15 months left to ensure they have all the required items for their uniform. To tackle the expenses of purchasing their uniform, a few options can be considered.

“There are online stores that sell the OCP uniform,” said Sumner. “However, I would encourage you to do research on the uniform they are selling.”

Sumner says that although the uniform may be selling for less, it could be the incorrect uniform. Another option is to check the Airmen’s Attic.

“You will often find very good deals on uniform items,” said Highfill. “Additionally the local base cleaners and alterations sometimes have clothing items for sale that have been forgotten or left behind.”

Highfill says that the best practice is to ask around and use fellow Airmen as a resource.  

The official date for the overall Air Force to fully retire ABUs is April 1, 2021.

For more information on regulations and uniform guidance for the OCP uniform, check out AFI 36-2903 or visit https://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Dress-and-Appearance/.