The long-awaited OCP uniform is on its way to the Air Force — and here’s when you could get it
By: Stephen Losey, 14 May 2018, Air Force Times

The wait is over: OCPs are here.

For years, airmen have dreamed of it, demanded it, and envied those lucky enough to have it already.

And now, finally, the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform on its way. For everybody. 

The Air Force announced Monday that it is adopting the Army’s OCP as its official utility uniform. The uniform will roll out across the force over the next three years. 

While some airmen already wear the OCP ― such as airmen in the Middle East and Air Force Global Strike Command security forces ― the Air Force will start rolling it out to others beginning Oct. 1.

By April 1, 2021, all airmen will be required to wear the OCP, and the current airman battle uniform, or ABU, will be no more. 

“Our airmen have made it clear, with a resounding, ‘Hey, we want to get into this uniform as soon as we possibly can,’” Maj. Gen. Robert LaBrutta, the Air Force’s director of military force management policy, said in a May 9 interview at the Pentagon. “Downrange and in garrison, [airmen consistently reported] it’s a better utility uniform than the ABU.”

LaBrutta said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright made the decision and were backed by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

“We looked at all utility uniforms currently in our inventory to find the best of breed,” Goldfein said in a release Monday. “We spoke to and listened to airmen on this, and the OCP was the clear choice. The uniform works in all climates ― from Minot to Manbij ― and across the spectrum of missions we perform. It’s suitable for our airmen working on a flight line in Northern Tier states and for those conducting patrols in the Middle East.”

The OCP was chosen for three reasons: Its improved fit and comfort will make it easier for airmen to do their jobs, it will help airmen fit in alongside soldiers in the field and improve joint integration, and airmen consistently said they wanted the switch.

Operational Camouflage Pattern

The Air Force plans to switch completely over to the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform by April 1, 2021. (Air Force)

“The OCP is a uniform for form, fit and function,” LaBrutta said. “It is the best of breed utility uniform that we believe is in the inventory that we can get into. And, as a result of that, our airmen are going to benefit from enhanced readiness through the use of the OCP.”

Air Force officials determined early on ― after receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from airmen already wearing it ― that the OCP was the way to go, LaBrutta said. The question was, largely, how quickly to roll it out.

Since 2012, the OCP has been airmen’s combat utility uniform. It was first approved for airmen deployed to Afghanistan, so they would blend in alongside soldiers while on patrol, and later expanded to other Middle East locations.

About 100,000 airmen have worn the OCP downrange since 2012, and about 20,000 airmen currently wear it both deployed to U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and in garrison when guarding Global Strike Command facilities. Air Force Special Operations Command airmen and aircrews in Air Mobility Command also wear the OCP.

Their feedback has helped the Air Force make decisions on adopting the OCP across the force, LaBrutta said.

Goldfein, Wright and Wilson have also heard a great deal of interest in the OCP from airmen while traveling to bases.

It will also simplify life for airmen, who won’t have to maintain two different sets of utility uniforms.

“It just makes sense that we would have one utility uniform, instead of two,” LaBrutta said.

The OCP has a six-color palette and smooth lines, allowing its camouflage to better blend in to various environments, Global Strike Command said in 2014, when it started switching its security forces to that uniform.

ABUs, on the other hand, have a four-color, pixelated camouflage pattern that does not blend in as well.

“If you get in a firefight in the field and you’re laying down fire, who are you going to see first? Obviously that guy” in ABUs, Chief Master Sgt. Scott Daigneault, then-senior enlisted manager for the force improvement program at Global Strike Command, said in a 2014 release announcing the change. “The difference is almost night and day. Your eyes skim right over the guy in OCP and zone in on the guy in ABUs.”

 When AFCENT in 2012 adopted OCPs as its official uniform for airmen deployed to Afghanistan, the command said the uniforms were chosen because they are comfortable, flame resistant and blend in well with Afghanistan’s terrain.

Airmen will wear their rank in the middle of their chest -- instead of on the sleeves or collars and the uniform will have Velcro pockets on the chest. (Air Force)

These uniforms are eagerly anticipated by airmen ― so much so that Wright stirred up a hornet’s nest online in March when he posted photos on social media of himself wearing the OCP.

One commenter wondered if his photos were a “savage tease or friendly foreshadowing?” Others online suggested the photos were ”Troll level 1000,“ or “rubbing it in.”

This prompted a mea culpa from Wright, who denied any hidden message or attempt at trolling. Wright explained he only sought to blend in during his visit to the 27th Special Operations Group at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, which already wore the OCP.

“Wow! I never thought I’d have to start of a post with ‘my bad’ but ... my bad!” Wright wrote online soon afterward.

When you’ll get it

Here’s the timeline for the rollout of the OCP:

July 2018: The Air Force expects to release an Air Force guidance memorandum on how to properly wear the OCP uniform.

Oct. 1: ”Optional wear” of the OCP will begin. That means anyone who already has the uniform hanging in his or her closet ― such as from a previous deployment to Afghanistan ― will be able to wear it.

Also that month, OCPs will go on sale at AAFES stores at a handful of bases ― Aviano Air Base in Italy, Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina, MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, and Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.

The Air Force will gradually expand from there, as the Defense Logistics Agency ramps up its ability to produce more of the new uniforms.

April 1, 2019: More AAFES stores ― but not yet all ― will start to get the OCP.

Oct. 1, 2019: New airmen coming in through basic military training, officer training school, and the Reserve Officer Training Corps will get their OCPs beginning next October, when LaBrutta said the production capacity is expected to be able to meet that demand.

Military training instructors and military training leaders will also start wearing OCPs at that time, to demonstrate proper dress and appearance standards to trainees.

AAFES is expected to start selling OCPs online next October as well.

June 2020: All airmen must transition to coyote brown boots. The old sage green boots, which most airmen wear with their ABUs, or desert sand boots, worn by some who already have OCPs, will no longer be allowed.

April 1, 2021: The final deadline for all of the more than 500,000 total force airmen to be wearing OCPs, and stop wearing ABUs once and for all.

The new OCP will cost about $20 more than the ABU, LaBrutta said. It will take the Air Force until this October to increase airmen’s clothing bag allowance by that amount, which is another reason why the service is waiting until fall to start allowing airmen to wear it. The coyote brown boots will cost about the same as the old boots, he said.

The Air Force also wants airmen who already have OCPs to switch over at the same time, where possible, which is why optional wear isn’t beginning before October, he said.

“It’s a heavy lift,” LaBrutta said of DLA’s effort to provide OCPs for both the Army and the Air Force. “It’s going to take some time for us to be able to field this across the United States Air Force. Folks are going to have to be patient.”

Get ready for squadron patches

Enlisted airmen will no longer wear their rank insignia on their sleeves, and officer insignia won’t be on their collars anymore. Instead, officers and enlisted will both wear rank insignia in the middle of their chests.

Airmen will also have their last names on the back of their patrol caps.

The Air Force will use a spice brown color for lettering, patches and most insignia, LaBrutta said, as opposed to the black used by the Army on their OCPs.

First lieutenant and lieutenant colonel insignia will be black, to differentiate them from second lieutenant and major insignia. The uniform configurations will otherwise be the same as the Army’s version.

And as part of an effort to build esprit de corps and revitalize the squadron structure of the Air Force ― one of Goldfein’s top priorities ― airmen will wear heraldry patches on their new uniforms alongside the U.S. flag.

“Folks like to pay tribute to their organizations,” LaBrutta said. “And so the patches, from a squadron perspective, are going to be part of the uniform as well. They’ll have to meet the color requirements that we have, and we’ll get that out to them. But squadron patches, heraldry patches will be on the uniform.“

In a follow-up email, Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Kate Atanasoff said headquarters patches and the U.S. flag will be worn on the right shoulder, and unit patches and authorized duty identifiers ― such as security forces, combat controller or Tactical Air Control Party ― will be worn on the left shoulder. The guidance coming out this summer will provide more detail on proper wear of patches.

As organizations design their new patches, they will have to use spice brown, as well as other specific thread colors that will be authorized by the Air Force.

“Unit patches express squadron identity and heritage ― something our airmen are incredibly proud of and want to celebrate,” Goldfein said.

So-called morale shirts, which were color-coded by squadron, are going away, Air Force spokeswoman Brooke Brzozowske said.

Patches will be velcroed on, but LaBrutta said airmen will be able to choose whether they velcro or sew on their name tag and U.S. Air Force tag.

Pockets on the chest will be at the same slanted configuration as on the Army’s OCP, and will velcro shut. Pockets on the arms will have side zippers, Atanasoff said.

The Air Force’s current sage green boots will be no more, and the service will transition into the coyote brown boots. Airmen will no longer be able to wear desert sand boots, as some currently do with their OCPs.

Old boots will be disposed of, but there will not be a buy-back.

LaBrutta said airmen could wear a tan t-shirt under the OCP, which he said matches well with the coyote brown boots. Airmen will continue wearing the so-called “DLA green” socks, he said, which are similar in color to tan. The belt will also be tan.

“The chief and the chief master sergeant of the Air Force, they want to make sure that we’re looking as professional as we possibly can in this uniform, thus the color patterns and everything,” LaBrutta said.

Airmen will also be able to roll their sleeves in this uniform, Atanasoff said.

The Air Force will use the Army’s inventory of backpacks and other equipment, to make sure it matches the new uniforms.

When stacked up against the current ABU, the Army’s OCP fits better and is more comfortable, LaBrutta said. It will likely last about as long as the old ABU before it wears out, he said.

“Those that wear the uniform, day in and day out, say that it actually wears better,” LaBrutta said. “In the operations that we’re wearing the uniform in, whether it’s a defender at Air Force Global Strike Command, or a battlefield airman, they believe it’s a better uniform to actually do their duties in.”

Atanasoff said the old and new uniforms have the same fabric weight, and the same 50-50 nylon cotton blend. The OCP will have no permanent press treatment, as the ABU initially had, and the OCP will have an “insect shield” permethrin treatment.

The uniform will simply be called the OCP, not the Airman Combat Uniform, as it has previously been called.

The switch will come with a hefty up-front price tag ― about $237 million over the first three years, to dispose of all the old boots and uniforms that will no longer be needed.

LaBrutta said one reason the Air Force stretched the adoption over three years was to draw down the old inventory as much as possible.

Some old ABUs could be handed down to JROTC units, LaBrutta said.

But over time, as the Air Force no longer has to pay for tens of thousands of airmen to keep up two different sets of utility uniforms, LaBrutta expects the service will break even.

“There are up-front investment costs any time you transition into something like this,” LaBrutta said. “But in the long term, it will be a break-even for the United States Air Force. The benefit that we’re going to get out of this in readiness, joint integration, and the airman demand signal that’s out there, are the reasons why we’re doing this, and very worthwhile.”

Deployed airmen who will go outside the wire will still receive a fire-resistant version of the OCP, LaBrutta said.

Pilots and other rated airmen will continue to wear their usual flight suits when performing rated duties, he said, but will wear OCPs like everybody else at other times.

LaBrutta said the women’s version of the OCP will have 20 different sizes. Female airmen who have worn the OCP while deployed to AFCENT have said it fits them much better than the women’s version of the ABU, he said.

Women will also have the option of wearing the unisex version of the OCP.

“The feedback that we’ve received from the women that have worn it in Air Forces Central Command has been very positive,” LaBrutta said. “So that’s another reason for moving into this new equipment item.”

Stephen Losey covers Air Force leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times.

These are the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year

By: Victoria Leoni and Noah Nash, Air Force Times, 23 June 2018  

The Air Force has announced this year’s Outstanding Airmen of the Year winners.

The 12 winners represent the service’s top enlisted members and were selected from a pool of 36 nominees based on their superior leadership, job performance and personal achievements.

The winners are listed below in alphabetic order.

Senior Master Sgt. Melissa Beam, Air Combat Command

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Caulfield, Air Force District of Washington

Staff Sgt. Wilson Gardner, Air National Guard

Senior Master Sgt. Ruth Griffin, Air Force Global Strike Command

Tech. Sgt. Brett Laswell, Air Force Special Operations Command

Master Sgt. Kit Lui, Air Force Reserve Command

Master Sgt. Joshua Matias, Air Education and Training Command

Tech Sgt. David Miller, U.S. Air Forces in Europe

Senior Airman Patrick Schilling, Air Force Materiel Command

Tech Sgt. April Spilde, Air Force Space Command



Tech Sgt. April Spilde, Air Force Space Command, a Bravo flight chief at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, leads 135 airmen securing $10.2 billion in space launch assets. A native of Minneapolis, Spilde has been stationed in Alaska and Washington, D.C., and has also been deployed to Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates since joining the Air Force in 2008.






Senior Master Sgt. Lucero Stockett, Air Mobility Command


Senior Airman Jon Taitano, Pacific Air Force


New Veterans ID Cards Finally Being Delivered, But Feature Office Depot’s Logo on Back

By: Leo Shane III, Military Times, 16 May 2018

A sample copy of the front of the new Veterans ID card. After a lengthy delay, the new cards have been mailed out to thousands of veterans in recent weeks. (Courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs)


WASHINGTON — Thousands of veterans received their free veterans ID cards this week featuring their names, their branch of service and a bright red advertisement on the back.


The cards, approved by Congress almost three years ago, are available at no charge to veterans with good conduct discharges. But to pay for printing and delivery, the Department of Veterans Affairs partnered with Office Depot, whose logo is displayed on the back of each card.


The arrangement was first reported by earlier this week. VA officials dismissed concerns about the unusual decision to display a corporate logo on a federal ID, noting that Congress approved no funding for the program when it passed the requirement in summer 2015.


“As such, VA approached Office Depot regarding a partnership to print and mail ID cards to veterans after applications are reviewed and approved by VA staff,” said VA spokesman Curt Cashour. “Under the arrangement, Veterans are not required to pay a fee for the card.


“This is precisely the type of outside-the-box thinking that has been missing from the federal government for far too long and that we are bringing to the table under the leadership of President (Donald) Trump.”


Neither VA nor Office Depot officials would release the cost of the partnership to the office supply firm.


In a statement, Office Depot Vice President for Print Services Andrew Tomlin said the company will supply veterans with ID cards at no cost through the end of 2020 because “Office Depot recognizes the sacrifices that veterans have made and this partnership is one small way that we can give back and thank them for their service.”


The backs of the cards also feature contact information for the Veterans Crisis Line and a line specifying that the corporate logo “does not represent an endorsement of Office Depot’s general policies, activities, products or services” by the VA.


As of Monday, 10,735 veterans had received the ID cards, about one-tenth of the applications received through the VA website.


Administration officials touted the new card process in November, as part of their extended Veterans Day celebration. But shortly after the department began accepting online applications, the system was overwhelmed and taken offline.


Cashour said officials are confident those technical issues have now been resolved. Nearly 16,000 more veterans have been approved for the cards and are expected to receive them in the mail in coming weeks.


The new cards do not replace VA medical cards or official defense retiree cards, and will not carry any force of law behind them.


They are designed to be an easy way for veterans to prove their military service for private sector recognition or discounts, replacing the need for individuals to carry around copies of their discharge paperwork. Numerous states have adopted procedures to display veteran status on driver’s licenses to work around that problem.


Under rules developed by VA, individuals who served in the armed forces, including the reserve components, and have a character of discharge of honorable or general under honorable conditions are eligible for the new IDs. Veterans with other than honorable status are not eligible, a move that has upset some outside advocates.


Veterans can apply for the cards through the VA web site. Applicants must register through the site to begin the application process.


MacDill Airmen Help Rescue Five

A1C Adam R. Shanks, 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs, 4 May 2018, MacDill AFB, FL



Four Marine Patrol Airmen assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron patrol the 7.2-mile coastline of MacDill Air Force Base, FL. On April 7, these Airmen assisted five local and federal Tampa Bay agencies in rescuing five people after their boat capsized near Davis Island.




It was April 7 and for the 6th Security Forces Squadron marine patrol unit, it was like any other day. They were routinely conducting patrols around the 7.2-mile coastline of MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.


Every weekend, boaters make their way onto the water to enjoy the mid-70 degree weather. But on this day, water conditions were rough; swells reached heights of 6 to 7 feet and winds were around 30 knots.


At approximately 2:08 p.m., Airman 1st Class Christian Britton and Senior Airman Michael Roper, 6th SFS marine patrolmen, received a “PANPAN” alert from U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.


“The call we received said there was a capsized vessel with around four individuals in the water near Davis Island,” said Roper. “Britton and I immediately began heading over to help and we spotted a helicopter hovering over one spot in the water, so we knew that had to be it.”


The helicopter, piloted by Todd Curabba, the chief pilot with Tampa Police Department’s Aviation Unit, was providing aerial support to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office dive team who were on scene.


“There were victims holding onto a buoy in the channel, and we were told to hold fast because HCSO’s rescue diver was making his way to give them floatation devices,” said Roper.


At this point, the situation seemed to be under control. The diver assisted the individuals in the water, and Tampa Fire and Rescue was waiting on the island to transport them to Tampa General Hospital.


But then the helicopter pilot stated over the VHF radio that they spotted another person in the water.


“The HCSO boat had already left with the four rescued, so our boat was the only one in the immediate area,” said Roper. “We headed over to the location that Tampa PD gave us.”


Moments later, the two patrolmen saw a man sprawled out on the shore of one of the spoil islands in the channel, not moving. Britton told Roper that the man looked unresponsive, and dove into the rough bay waters without hesitation, and rushed toward shore.


“I kept the boat steady while Britton made his way to the man,” said Roper. “I then contacted an additional patrol boat of ours to help because the water was so bad.”

The additional boat came with Staff Sgts. Adrian O’Neil and Vaughn Faubel on board. Britton made contact with the man, who was around 75 years old. He gave him a life preserver and instructed that they swim together back to the marine patrol boat. The man gasped, “I can’t swim.”


“I knew Britton wouldn’t be able to swim the man back to the boat alone because of the water conditions, so I dove in to help with the rescue,” said O’Neil.


Roper then maneuvered the security forces vessel as close as possible to the three, without running aground.


“For me, that was the most difficult part because I had to turn off the engines to prepare for them to come on board,” said Roper. “And the waves were so bad that it only took seconds for the boat to start drifting toward land.”

After multiple attempts to keep the boat steady, Roper helped Britton and O’Neil bring the man on board. TFR notified them that they were standing by at the Davis Island boat ramp to receive and treat the man.


“We were making a patrol flight within Tampa when our neighboring sector dispatcher received the 911 call about the capsized boat,” said Curabba, “I have seen a great deal in my 17 years of airborne law enforcement, and all my training came together in a matter of minutes that day.”


“It was incredible how all of our agencies worked together seamlessly for the common good of saving a life.”


National Police Week 2018 – Remembering the Fallen

By Joseph L. Rector, Deputy Director, 11th Security Forces Group / Published May 08, 2018


11th Security Forces Group members light candles during the 29th Annual Candlelight Vigil in Washington, D.C., May 13, 2017. This was one of the National Police Week events held to bring together law enforcement from around the world and honor past and present police officers and security forces members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez) JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

Next week, Joint Base Andrews Security Forces will kick off five days of National Police Week activities. Not only will we honor and remember those in law enforcement who made the ultimate sacrifice, but we will showcase our capabilities as defenders, compete in friendly competition and revel in comradery with our fellow law enforcement officers.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.  

The security forces career field possesses a rich history of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. As a young lieutenant I remember listening in amazement in my Security Police Basic Officer Course to stories about the gallant defense of Bunker 51 at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive.

There five security police NCOs: Sgt. Louis Fischer, Sgt. William J. Cyr, Sgt. Charles E. Hebron, Sgt. Roger B. Mills, and Sgt. Alonzo J. Coggins fought against over 600 Viet Cong. Four security police were killed and the fifth was so badly wounded, that the Viet Cong left him for dead. The actions by these defenders held the bunker for 24 minutes against overwhelming odds and allowed reinforcements to hold against the attack on the airfield.

There, Capt. Reginald V. Maisey, Jr., assigned to the 3rd Security Police Squadron at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam, fought courageously defending Bunker 10 from the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong guerrillas. Maisey paid the ultimate price when he was killed by a rocket propelled grenade. For his efforts, Maisey was awarded the Air Force Cross. And if you didn’t know, the Maisey Building at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is named after him.

We tend to view our home station installations as a sort of “Mayberry” where there is very little crime. The reality is it can be much different. Tech. Sgt. Robert Butler was shot and killed Jan. 10, 1998 at Edwards Air Force Base in California after stopping the vehicle of a fellow Airman who had killed another Airman moments earlier. At the time, Butler did not know the driver was a suspect in the murder.

There are currently over 21,000 names of officers killed in the line of duty at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. Three hundred sixty names of police officers will be added to the Memorial in ceremonies this year.

The first known death of a law enforcement officer dates back to 1791, while the deadliest year in law enforcement history was 1930 when 307 officers lost their lives. Law enforcement fatalities have remained around 130 per year in the United States over the years. The last time law officer fatalities were lower than 100 was in 1944.

One hundred twenty-eight federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers died in the line of duty in 2017. Forty-four officers were shot and killed, which represents a 33 percent reduction over 2016 when 66 officers died as a result of gunfire.

While this downturn in officer deaths by firearms is good news, it appears to be fleeting. As I write this article, officer deaths by firearms have increased by 63 percent in 2018 over the same time period last year.

I ask that you take the opportunity over the course of National Police Week to say thanks to our local, state and federal law enforcement partners when you see them. Those in law enforcement serve in a noble profession that provides that thin blue line that protects and serves our community against the evil-doers of society. Law enforcement serves as an enabler of democracy and the freedoms we cherish in America.

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