How to Wear Your Air Force Uniform

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Air Force members wear many different types of uniforms, depending on duty location, career field, occasion, and other factors. One of the most commonly worn uniforms is the airman battle uniform (ABU), which has been gradually replacing the battle dress uniform (BDU) that will be completely phased out in October 2011. The ABU incorporates a different color and camouflage scheme and is more in line with similar uniforms of the other military services. It is generally worn as the BDU is worn, though there are some differences.

  • Wear the long-sleeved outer shirt of your ABU with sleeves rolled up or left down. This outer shirt is also called a blouse or a coat. If the sleeves are rolled up, the sleeve material must come within an inch of the forearm, when the arm is bent at 90 degrees. This shirt may be removed in the immediate work area only if you are wearing a sleeved, sand-colored, Air Force issue T-shirt beneath.

  • Wear a sand-colored T-shirt beneath the outer tiger camouflage pattern ABU shirt. Airmen are also authorized to wear non-Air Force T-shirts made of other material (cotton/polyester blends, moisture-wicking material) if they are sand-colored and the manufacturer label will not show.

  • Wear the trousers of your ABU either bloused over combat boots using blousing straps or tucked into the combat boots to give a bloused effect. When wear of the ABU becomes mandatory for all personnel in 2011, blousing straps cannot be used and the trousers of the ABU will have to be tucked into the boots. The only belt authorized to be worn with the ABU is the sand-colored rigger belt.

  • Wear either the tan suede boots or the foliage-green boots with your Air Force ABU. Black combat boots are not authorized for wear with the ABU. Similarly, the tan suede boots will be phased out when the foliage-green boots become readily available. Wear the matching foliage-green socks with either the tan boots or the green boots.

  • Wear the patrol-cap style ABU hat (same style as the BDU cap) "squarely on the head, with no hair protruding in front of the cap," according to Air Force Instruction 36-2903. Organizational baseball caps are not authorized for wear with ABUs as they were with BDUs.

  • Do not dry-clean your ABU. Unlike BDUs, ABUs may not be dry-cleaned or starched. You can easily keep your ABU looking sharp with normal machine washing and drying. Use a detergent that has no brighteners or bleach, such as Woolite. Tumble dry on a low setting. Do not steam iron your ABUs. Dry-cleaning, starching, or pressing the ABU may damage the camouflage features of the uniform, as will brighteners and bleach.

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