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NEWS | Oct. 31, 2011

Air Force BDU officially history today

By Tech. Sgt. Leisa Grant National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. - There are two things you should not see Nov. 1 - Halloween costumes and the Air Force Battle Dress Uniform.

In 2006, the Airman Battle Uniform became authorized for wear and a date was set for final phase-out of the woodland camouflage-patterned BDU's.

Previously announced to be effective Oct. 1 of this year, a more recent Air Force Instruction 36-2903 pushed the date back to Nov. 1. This applies to all Air Force components - active duty, Guard and Reserve.

Other items will simultaneously enter retirement with the BDU's after today: desert camouflage uniform, black t-shirt, black combat boots and tan boots with ABU (outside theater of operations).

Originally designed for wear throughout Europe and the Cold War, the almost 30 year-old duty uniform was worn by all branches of the service until 2005. After today, only the Navy will be authorized to wear the BDU until their set phase-out date.

The most readily noticeable change to Airmen, aside from its appearance, is the maintenance. The new uniform requires very little care, needing only to be washed and hung for drying. For those who were accustomed to weekly dry cleaning trips, this became a welcome change.

Furthermore, the boots, now a sage green, full-grain leather boot with rubber heel and toe reinforcements, do not require polishing.

Not all Airmen embraced the changes immediately.

"The [BDU's] featured solid, good-looking creases that looked great with well-shined boots," said Air Force Master Sgt. Sam Macaluso, a member of the Nevada Air National Guard's 152nd Airlift Wing.

But, even for those who like the creases and the spit-shined boot look, the appeal of less maintenance grew on them.

"We'd often spend our entire guard duty at night getting the perfect shine on those boots," Macaluso said. "It's nice to have boots you don't need to shine and a uniform you don't need to press constantly."

With less time spent on up keeping their uniforms, Airmen are afforded more time to focus on other aspects of their military lives.

"A big benefit is the ABU gives Airmen at schools more time to study," Macaluso said. "Discipline and standards are important, but I believe Airmen have a lot more than their uniforms to focus on these days."

- Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Eric Ritter of the Nevada Air National Guard contributed.

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