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Airman Battle Uniform finalized

WASHINGTON -- The new Airman Battle Uniform is ready for production and will be available in fiscal year 2007, said the Air Force deputy chief of staff of personnel.

Many factors were considered in developing the final uniform selection, with the concern for Airmen being at the top of the list, said Brig. Gen. Robert R. Allardice.

“We were looking for a uniform that would be easier to maintain,” he said. “We wanted to provide a uniform that the Airman wouldn’t need to spend a lot of out-of-pocket expenses to maintain.”

Also, Airmen’s feedback throughout the process was beneficial in adding new pockets on the uniform.

“We listened to the Airmen’s request where they wanted pockets to hold small tools and when they wear body armor the existing shirt pockets are not accessible or usable,” General Allardice said. “It will have the four pockets on the front of the shirt, and also a small pencil pocket on the left forearm and two pockets on the lower legs. In addition, inside the side pockets and inside of the breast pockets there will be smaller sewn-in pockets to hold small tools, flashlights or cell phones.”

The new uniform design is a pixilated tiger stripe with four soft earth tones consisting of tan, grey, green and blue. The ABU will have a permanent crease and will be offered in 50-50 nylon-cotton blend permanent press fabric, eliminating the need for winter- and summer-weight uniforms.

Will the new ABU need to be starched and pressed?

“Absolutely not,” he said. “Our uniform requirement is we want a uniform that you wash, pull it out of the dryer, and wear it. This requirement meets the ease and cost effectiveness needs in maintaining a uniform.”

He speaks from personal experience and added that in the long run it will save Airmen money on dry cleaning costs.

“I tested this uniform. I wash it, take it right out of the dryer and wear it,” General Allardice said. “We don’t want people putting an iron to it.”

The fit of the uniform was also a concern for Airmen.

“We’re making them available in more sizes to fit the body better,” he said. “We’ve taken the time to produce more sizes and tailored them for men and women.”

“This is the uniform of the future,” General Allardice said. “Eventually when enough of these uniforms are manufactured, we will phase out the BDU and desert combat uniforms.”

The current projected mandatory wear date for the new ABU is fiscal 2011.

The only thing that needs to be determined is if patches will be worn and the Air Force chief of staff will make that determination soon, General Allardice said.

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