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Author Topic: Uniform Change Discussion - ABU's, OCP's and other considerations  (Read 10041 times)
DocJekyll
Forum Regular

Posts: 135

« on: August 04, 2018, 04:16:51 PM »

Alright everyone, I know this usually devolves but the last thread remained civil for quite a while and I'm hoping this one can too. I would like to open up some polite discourse on the future of the CAP AF style utility uniform. I'm pulling some stuff from other threads and adding some new things as well (including reference images) to help out. I've also had some pretty positive discussions with those in my group and wing about some of these issues and I think there were some good points made worthy of sharing.

First to what we know, the ABU is going away. It's been on it's way out for a while, just like the original ACU. It didn't do the job the AF wanted and didn't do it well enough. In order to bring the "utility" back in the USAF's field uniform, they decided to switch to the OCP which in many ways is a superior cut both for fitment, organization, and pattern. Now, I'm not going to discuss patterns so much because they don't really matter to us beyond the fact our parent organization uses them but what I do have is below;

Regardless of your position on color/design preference on ANY uniform;
  • We will see an initial surge of ABU's when the USAF begins to make it's transition
  • We will likely see many of the other uniform items become more available as the rest of the force begins their switch
  • With the OG and BDU, all services used those patterns so we had a pretty hefty allotment of surplus for some time from the AF and other branches for 30? years of use, which drove the nearly 10 year transition delay for both uniforms.
  • Since the ABU was only used by the USAF and only for about 11 years before the transition to new uniform was announced, surplus will already be far lower than other uniforms we've had.
  • Since only one branch used the ABU, surplus will also be limited. Once that initial surge of surplus diminishes, we're going to see availability for ABU's plummet and prices increase more than they already have similarly to what we started seeing with BDU's just prior to CAP making the decision to swap.
  • OCP and it's prior generation design have been around a while and are easy to find and cheap already. Many in the AF already use it, and the entire Army is phasing in as well, which is why the AF switched to it and not a new pattern.
  • People are going to argue/whine/complain about uniforms no matter what side of the fence they're on and try to make their point, and I don't exclude myself from that.

Now on to some points regarding CAP;
  • CAP will want to remain distinctive to an extent (IE Black boots, Navy tapes w/ white lettering etc.) which it should be...
  • CAP wants to remain close to it's parent organization visually and operationally.
  • The USAF wants us to not diverge too much from them as a parent organization.
  • From a Public Affairs perspective it makes sense to remain visually similar to our parent org.
  • Many cadets are drawn to the program by the uniform (I was when I joined 14 years ago and I don't deny that). [It's the whole came for digs, stayed because it was awesome doing cool stuff thing]

Cons to switching to OCP within a reasonable time (read as sooner rather than later):
  • It's one more uniform out there in the wild for cadets and seniors that fall within standards
  • It's going to royally screw up our already defunct transition period to change things before the transition ends June 2021.
  • If we don't start the change in a reasonable time, we're looking at a logistical nightmare sourcing uniforms for anyone for a reasonable price, to say nothing about sizes cadets can wear.
  • If we begin to make the swap too soon, we'll be met with the same logistical nightmare on the other end, with not enough OCP's to go around for our active/reserve/guard family AND CAP. So, timing in essence will be the name of the game

Pros to switching to the OCP in a reasonable time:
  • We retain similarity visually with our parent organization while still being able to be distinctive.
  • Vanguard already makes the velcro rank and name/branch tapes for CAP for use on the fleeces.
  • Sizing will be better for all, but especially for cadets and females. (this is one of the stated reasons the AF is changing over)
  • The uniforms are more comfortable (Both from personal experience and from information taken by the AF states this.)
  • Velcro tapes, rank patches, etc make changing rank and other items easier.
  • Other patches, Wing/NCSA/Squadron et. al. will work better with OCP's due to the velcro etc. I know many including myself went no-patches on the ABU's because they didn't look right, or other reasons.
  • The boots can remain the same as we currently have, or we can change. Those who wear corporate usually stick to those, and those who wear USAF style generally stick to that anyways, so interplay between the two uniform types is a mute point. Only issue I see is possibly changing boot color with the flight suits, I don't know, flip a coin or something on those, it doesn't really matter.
    -Ergonomics of the pockets/pouches are far better on OCP.
  • This provides an opportunity for CAP to also change the BBDU to the ACU style pockets for similarity while retaining a corporate uniform for those who don't meet H/W standards and/or have religious preferences for beards/etc.
  • This change will overall reduce cost to members due to product and uniform item availability over the coming years
Now, what would all of this look like? Due to some of the other things I do in the background, I have access to some of the newer uniforms, and am currently sitting with the last 2 CAP AF style field utility uniforms and the current US Army OCP Scorpion W2 that the USAF is swapping to so it's simple enough to slap things around a bit and take a look; (keep note, I would never encourage anyone to wear a non-approved uniform, so please don't go out wearing stuff like this unless we get some kind of national approval. It's only a visual reference so everyone can see what we're talking about.)


One thing I will note above is the ease of changing nametapes and rank on a uniform. That may be a positive change for cadet squadrons where less sewing will be required.

The OCP is far more comfortable than the ABU's or even BDU's. I loved by BDU's but I've got to say this new one feels like a better fit.The velcro on the arms is fairly large and allows for both a flag patch and another type of heraldry or NCSA patch under it, with a wing patch or other NCSA patch or squadron patch going on the other side.


Unlike just about any CAP uniform I can think of, the sleeve cuffs are inverted, which hides the nylon button from view and so far I've noticed has reduced snagging. You can see it in the first picture as well. It has a pen pocket of course on the left arm just like the ABU does. The back and arms have a gusseted panel which makes the uniform far more comfortable when reaching or wearing gear.

The new collar is a nice as well. The pants are pretty standard but there have been some upgrades as well. I can note these in a later post if anyone wants to see. There's also the issue of boots but I know that's going on in another thread currently so I won't touch that yet.

Overall, I think it's probably a good idea to start looking at what we need to do to make the switch and stay in line with the AF. I'm sure this puts a wrench in the works for our current transition, but it'll have to be done eventually (for the above stated reasons).



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Luis R. Ramos
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Posts: 2,640

« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2018, 04:22:30 PM »

Can't you wait awhile? I have not finished buying all the BBDUs that I need, and there is still time to wear ABUs.

Wait to post this thread when CAP announces a new uniform.


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Squadron Administrative Officer
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Eclipse
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2018, 04:24:56 PM »

This will be another opportunity for CAP to adopt it's own, distinctive field uniform,
and get off the USAF carousel of clothing, that CAP will ignore in favor of
affinity and affectation.

CAP does not need a camouflage uniform, for any reason whatsoever, and it
actually decreases mission effectiveness in every phases of CAP operations
except for recruiting, and point is debatable, since the inability of the organization
to enforce its regulations works against the very affinity it seeks.

The rhetoric should be "now's the time to fix this once and for all", not start discussing
how awesome OCPs would be.

It would be kind of nice, however, if the ABU was actually properly authorized before it's
retired, though.  Anyone want to start on pool?
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DocJekyll
Forum Regular

Posts: 135

« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2018, 04:31:16 PM »

Can't you wait awhile? I have not finished buying all the BBDUs that I need, and there is still time to wear ABUs.

Wait to post this thread when CAP announces a new uniform.

lol. The whole point was to discuss it prior to any sort of announcement. That includes the issues with timelines, logistics of wearing a uniform the AF will no longer be wearing etc.

This will be another opportunity for CAP to adopt it's own, distinctive field uniform,
and get off the USAF carousel of clothing, that CAP will ignore in favor of
affinity and affectation.

CAP does not need a camouflage uniform, for any reason whatsoever, and it
actually decreases mission effectiveness in every phases of CAP operations
except for recruiting, and point is debatable, since the inability of the organization
to enforce its regulations works against the very affinity it seeks.

The rhetoric should be "now's the time to fix this once and for all", not start discussing
how awesome OCPs would be.

I do understand where you're coming from, but from the discussions I've heard in person, the AF doesn't want us in our own distinctive uniform. I'm trying to steer clear of the camouflage pattern debate though for that very reason. It doesn't really matter what the pattern is, because it's whatever our parent org has.
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EMT-83
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Posts: 1,871

« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2018, 06:42:46 PM »

I do understand where you're coming from, but from the discussions I've heard in person, the AF doesn't want us in our own distinctive uniform. I'm trying to steer clear of the camouflage pattern debate though for that very reason. It doesn't really matter what the pattern is, because it's whatever our parent org has.

The "discussions you've heard in person" don't represent the opinion of the Air Force any more than your end the conversation represents the opinion of the Civil Air Patrol.
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abdsp51
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2018, 10:23:42 PM »

The AF did not goto the OCP because the Army is already wearing it.  There is more to that decision.
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OldGuy
Seasoned Member

Posts: 426
Unit: TBKS

« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2018, 10:09:40 AM »

The ABU is the most uncomfortable uniform ever. I miss the old, old plain OD 'fatigues' that we used to wear.
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PHall
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Posts: 6,145

« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2018, 10:24:04 AM »

The AF did not goto the OCP because the Army is already wearing it.  There is more to that decision.

Actually, that is the EXACT reason the Air Force went to it.

The ABU wasn't working and a replacement was desired. Adopting the OCP was seen as an economical way to do it since the Army had already spent the money needed to field it. And the Air Force had some experience wearing it already since by order of CENTCOM everybody in the AOR had to wear it.
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PHall
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Posts: 6,145

« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2018, 10:28:58 AM »

The ABU is the most uncomfortable uniform ever. I miss the old, old plain OD 'fatigues' that we used to wear.

Are you wearing the "original" design that we got for free or the much more comfy Ripstop ABU's?
There is a big difference, at least to me.


And yes I miss the OG-507 Fatigues too.
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OldGuy
Seasoned Member

Posts: 426
Unit: TBKS

« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2018, 02:38:07 PM »

The ABU is the most uncomfortable uniform ever. I miss the old, old plain OD 'fatigues' that we used to wear.

Are you wearing the "original" design that we got for free or the much more comfy Ripstop ABU's?
There is a big difference, at least to me.


And yes I miss the OG-507 Fatigues too.
I got mine from the Airmen's Attic.
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Mitchell 1969
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2018, 02:58:18 PM »

The ABU is the most uncomfortable uniform ever. I miss the old, old plain OD 'fatigues' that we used to wear.

Are you wearing the "original" design that we got for free or the much more comfy Ripstop ABU's?
There is a big difference, at least to me.


And yes I miss the OG-507 Fatigues too.

I never owned OG-507s. I was OG-107 until the last! (Of course, by then, they were more “olive grey” than they were “olive green”).


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Fubar
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Posts: 681

« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2018, 05:28:05 PM »

As mentioned elsewhere recently, we can't use phrases such as, "The USAF wants" or "The USAF thinks that" because the USAF is an enormous conglomerate conducting a countless number of unique missions. The USAF can't collectively "think" about something any more than CAP can.

Now there are a few folks at the USAF who have the responsibility of caring what we do and how we do it. Unless an opinion comes from those folks, our customers, then we shouldn't care. I also hope those people expect us to make decisions that maximize our abilities to serve them to the best of our ability. Taking this opportunity to select a field uniform that all CAP members can wear, is best designed for the missions we execute, and is cost effective in a volunteer environment is something our USAF partners should expect us to do, not be offended by it.

I'm not suggesting selecting a uniform that meets all of our missions requirements will be easy either. There are some diverse usage requirements between the cadet program and emergency services. Having ground SAR teams in camouflaging colors makes no sense, having a squadron full of cadets in formation in bright orange won't help recruiting. Having separate uniforms for each mission increases the cost to volunteers who do both.

Like I said, it won't be easy. If we start now, moving at CAP speed, we should have an answer in about 5 years. Maybe six. We definitely need to start working on it now.
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abdsp51
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« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2018, 02:34:31 AM »

The AF did not goto the OCP because the Army is already wearing it.  There is more to that decision.

Actually, that is the EXACT reason the Air Force went to it.

The ABU wasn't working and a replacement was desired. Adopting the OCP was seen as an economical way to do it since the Army had already spent the money needed to field it. And the Air Force had some experience wearing it already since by order of CENTCOM everybody in the AOR had to wear it.

More to it than that bro..
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Dwight Dutton
Forum Regular

Posts: 118
Unit: PCR-CA-080

« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2018, 01:06:00 PM »

The large Velcro sleeve patches would make up for the loss of the pockets.  You could actually put two patches on each side, and for those with more than that, its Velcro!  You could wear different patches every time.
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Dwight J. Dutton, CPT AUS (RET)
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Mitchell 1975 (before numbers)
DocJekyll
Forum Regular

Posts: 135

« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2018, 02:27:27 PM »

The large Velcro sleeve patches would make up for the loss of the pockets.  You could actually put two patches on each side, and for those with more than that, its Velcro!  You could wear different patches every time.

I can't say it'd really be a loss of pockets as I'd be more likely to use the pockets on the sleeves for things like cell phones, small items etc, than I've ever been to use the lower pockets on the ABU/BDU top.

But I do agree, with the large panels, it makes some things easier to do like change out wing/unit/NCSA/other patches. You could even make the argument that we'd see better use of surplus uniforms being able to be recycled because the nametapes and ranks would also be velcro. Constant sewing would basically be eliminated for cadet officers. I will say though, I REALLY like the idea of throwing unit patches on the arms, maybe below the flag (if we went back to wearing it) and then wing patch on the other side or NCSA patch.
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I_Am_Twigs
Member

Posts: 91
Unit: RMR-ID-069

« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2018, 02:40:00 PM »

The large Velcro sleeve patches would make up for the loss of the pockets.  You could actually put two patches on each side, and for those with more than that, its Velcro!  You could wear different patches every time.

I can't say it'd really be a loss of pockets as I'd be more likely to use the pockets on the sleeves for things like cell phones, small items etc, than I've ever been to use the lower pockets on the ABU/BDU top.

But I do agree, with the large panels, it makes some things easier to do like change out wing/unit/NCSA/other patches. You could even make the argument that we'd see better use of surplus uniforms being able to be recycled because the nametapes and ranks would also be velcro. Constant sewing would basically be eliminated for cadet officers. I will say though, I REALLY like the idea of throwing unit patches on the arms, maybe below the flag (if we went back to wearing it) and then wing patch on the other side or NCSA patch.

Wouldn't the occupational/aviation badges still be sewn on?
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Mitchell #68874
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DocJekyll
Forum Regular

Posts: 135

« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2018, 03:09:13 PM »

The large Velcro sleeve patches would make up for the loss of the pockets.  You could actually put two patches on each side, and for those with more than that, its Velcro!  You could wear different patches every time.

I can't say it'd really be a loss of pockets as I'd be more likely to use the pockets on the sleeves for things like cell phones, small items etc, than I've ever been to use the lower pockets on the ABU/BDU top.

But I do agree, with the large panels, it makes some things easier to do like change out wing/unit/NCSA/other patches. You could even make the argument that we'd see better use of surplus uniforms being able to be recycled because the nametapes and ranks would also be velcro. Constant sewing would basically be eliminated for cadet officers. I will say though, I REALLY like the idea of throwing unit patches on the arms, maybe below the flag (if we went back to wearing it) and then wing patch on the other side or NCSA patch.

Wouldn't the occupational/aviation badges still be sewn on?

Well sure, but how often do you change/upgrade your badges? I'm not sure so I'd have to look but isn't it optional to sew or velcro those on too?
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I_Am_Twigs
Member

Posts: 91
Unit: RMR-ID-069

« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2018, 03:24:09 PM »

The large Velcro sleeve patches would make up for the loss of the pockets.  You could actually put two patches on each side, and for those with more than that, its Velcro!  You could wear different patches every time.

I can't say it'd really be a loss of pockets as I'd be more likely to use the pockets on the sleeves for things like cell phones, small items etc, than I've ever been to use the lower pockets on the ABU/BDU top.

But I do agree, with the large panels, it makes some things easier to do like change out wing/unit/NCSA/other patches. You could even make the argument that we'd see better use of surplus uniforms being able to be recycled because the nametapes and ranks would also be velcro. Constant sewing would basically be eliminated for cadet officers. I will say though, I REALLY like the idea of throwing unit patches on the arms, maybe below the flag (if we went back to wearing it) and then wing patch on the other side or NCSA patch.

Wouldn't the occupational/aviation badges still be sewn on?

Well sure, but how often do you change/upgrade your badges? I'm not sure so I'd have to look but isn't it optional to sew or velcro those on too?

It doesn't specifically say that you can't in afi 36-2903 but it also doesn't say you can. So I'd assume that they'd be sew-on, either way I think sewing them on looks better.

Quote
(Add) 5.4. Accoutrements. Airmen will wear a basic configuration until organizational patches
and badges are developed or reconfigured. Organizations are required to contact The Institute of
Heraldry TIOH) for assistance on development or reconfiguration of organizational patches and
badges (see paragraph 10.8 ). Airmen may sew-on or use velcro backing for USAF tape, name
tape, and rank. Tapes and rank must be either all sewn-on or all velcro; Airmen are not
authorized to mix sew-on and velcro tapes or rank. [NOTE: only velcro patches are
authorized on the left and right sleeves of the OCP coat.

And it depends on how fast you work for new ratings  ;)
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Mitchell #68874
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2nd Encampment 2017
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TheSkyHornet
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Posts: 1,271

« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2018, 03:45:03 PM »

The large Velcro sleeve patches would make up for the loss of the pockets.  You could actually put two patches on each side, and for those with more than that, its Velcro!  You could wear different patches every time.

I can't say it'd really be a loss of pockets as I'd be more likely to use the pockets on the sleeves for things like cell phones, small items etc, than I've ever been to use the lower pockets on the ABU/BDU top.

But I do agree, with the large panels, it makes some things easier to do like change out wing/unit/NCSA/other patches. You could even make the argument that we'd see better use of surplus uniforms being able to be recycled because the nametapes and ranks would also be velcro. Constant sewing would basically be eliminated for cadet officers. I will say though, I REALLY like the idea of throwing unit patches on the arms, maybe below the flag (if we went back to wearing it) and then wing patch on the other side or NCSA patch.

Wouldn't the occupational/aviation badges still be sewn on?

Well sure, but how often do you change/upgrade your badges? I'm not sure so I'd have to look but isn't it optional to sew or velcro those on too?

It doesn't specifically say that you can't in afi 36-2903 but it also doesn't say you can. So I'd assume that they'd be sew-on, either way I think sewing them on looks better.

It specifically says you can use either. You just need to be consistent and do the same with all.

http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a1/publication/afi36-2903/afi36-2903.pdf
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I_Am_Twigs
Member

Posts: 91
Unit: RMR-ID-069

« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2018, 04:11:41 PM »

It specifically says you can use either. You just need to be consistent and do the same with all.

http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a1/publication/afi36-2903/afi36-2903.pdf

Quote
(Add) 5.4. Accoutrements. Airmen will wear a basic configuration until organizational patches
and badges are developed or reconfigured. Organizations are required to contact The Institute of
Heraldry TIOH) for assistance on development or reconfiguration of organizational patches and
badges (see paragraph 10.8 ). Airmen may sew-on or use velcro backing for USAF tape, name
tape, and rank.
Tapes and rank must be either all sewn-on or all velcro; Airmen are not
authorized to mix sew-on and velcro tapes or rank. [NOTE: only velcro patches are
authorized on the left and right sleeves of the OCP coat.

The bold is what I'm looking at, it doesn't mention the occupational/aeronautical badges. Does that include them?
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Mitchell #68874
1st Encampment 2016 
2nd Encampment 2017
3rd Encampment 2018
C/2nd Lt, CAP
 
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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  Uniforms & Awards  |  Topic: Uniform Change Discussion - ABU's, OCP's and other considerations
 


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