The Air Force May Switch To Army Camo Sooner Than Expected — For An Insane Price

U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class James Johnson

Editor’s Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Air Force's proposed switch to an Army-patterned uniform may be on the fast track, according to a recent Facebook presentation — and it could be a pricey proposal for the service.

The Army Combat Uniform, or ACU, may become the Air Force's permanent replacement for the current Airman Battle Uniform as early as June 1, according to a recently leaked slide presentation.

According to the presentation, titled "ABU to ACU-OCP Transition Decision" posted on the Facebook page Air Force Amn/Nco/Snco, the service is awaiting a decision from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

The presentation gives options for 24-, 36- or 48-month transition periods for all airmen to move from the ABU to ACU, which incorporates the Army's Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP.

Should the service choose the fastest timeline, it would cost roughly $450 million to get airmen switched to the ACU within 24 months if the start date begins Oct. 1, one slide shows.

If the Air Force pushes the decision to next year, the minimum it would spend would be $125 million for a 48-month transition, with all airmen receiving new uniforms by 2024.

"Mandatory wear date must coincide with FY budget cycle for efficiency," says the presentation, authored by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

Amn/Nco/Snco is popular within the Air Force, but isn't officially run by the service.

"Air Force senior leaders are considering options for a new utility uniform," service spokeswoman Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff told in a recent email.

"We regularly review uniform policy and gather feedback from Airmen via a number of channels. One recommendation has been the movement from ABUs to ACUs," she said.

Atanasoff could not say from where the leaked slide presentation originated.

"The Air Force uniform policy team and senior leaders are currently considering this feedback and working on possible courses of action," she said.

Switching uniforms presents obstacles ranging from building adequate stockpiles of boots, accessories and appropriate equipment, to arranging a buyback or uniform disposal program for the ABU, the slides show.

The service first began hinting at more substantial decisions surrounding a new uniform last summer after Goldfein's Revitalizing the Squadron initiative launched, giving airmen a way to voice their opinions.

Goldfein, alongside Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright, in October told airmen during an all-hands briefing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, that a number of uniform changes may be coming.

"We're looking at it. Here's the deal. Let's all agree to agree on a few things. Number one, uniforms matter. They matter to all of us," Goldfein said during his trip to the base. "We want to feel good ... want them to be functional.

"If you want to know what drives my decision-making going forward, it's about lethality and readiness; the business of warfighting," he said.

Goldfein added, "What is the battlefield uniform we need to perform that function. And if it's OCPs, and that's what we get to, then that's the decision we'll make.

"But I'm not racing at it because I want to get it right. Because once you make this decision, you better be ready for this decision to be in our Air Force for the next 20 years. So we're spending a lot of time looking at it. We're going to take our time to get it right," he said.

Related: More Air Force Pilots Are Skipping the Flight Suit. Here’s Why »

Goldfein's comments came one month after the Air Force confirmed that airmen flying cargo airlift or helicopters — anything aside from a fighter and without an ejection seat — had been seen wearing the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform, known as the A2CU, more often.

"The two-piece [A2CU] uniform has OCP-patterned fabric and the same fire-retardant properties as the flight suit, making it certified for wear by pilots flying aircraft without ejection seats," Atanasoff said at the time.

"Since the [uniform] pattern matches the OCP, it is often the uniform for downrange locations where many aircrews are operating," she added.

The A2CU has also been in use stateside, Air Force officials said.

The cost of frequent military uniform changes has frustrated lawmakers in the past. In 2016, the Senate included a provision in its version of the next year’s defense budget that would have required the Defense Department to notify Capitol Hill before developing or fielding any new camouflage utilities. Some Army camouflage uniforms have cost billions to develop, while other services have spent millions on patterns that ultimately flopped.

Airmen have criticized the ABU — first issued to new recruits in 2007 — because they are required to add it to their wardrobe but don't utilize it as much as other uniforms, many say.

The change would be the first major uniform switch-up since then. In 2012, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh mandated an exception to "Blues Mondays," which gave commanders at bases the choice to have their airmen wear dress blues at the start of the work week.

Commanders slowly phased out Monday formal dress blues for the ABU or flight suit following the policy change.

This story first appeared on

Read more from


Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less