Why am I wearing ABUs

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be having a series of Commander's Calls for 82 TRW personnel. 

More than likely during those sessions you'll see me sporting our new utility uniform--the Airman's Battle Uniform (ABU) which was recently made available to all Air Force general officers for purchase.

Since I'm now wearing the new ABU, you're probably wondering when the rest of our force will get the opportunity to purchase them? The short answer is, not for a while. 

Originally we thought the ABU would be available for AEF 7/8 deployers as well as issued to new recruits at BMT. Unfortunately, manufacturing delays have caused this schedule to slip to the right and we don't know for sure at this point when the ABU will be available to deployers, new recruits, and the rest of the force. If I had to guess, I'd say sometime this Fall. 

The acquisition and production of US military uniforms is controlled by Federal law which sometimes imposes requirements and conditions that frequently delay the roll out of a new uniform. That's what has caused most of the delay for the ABU rollout.

Despite this delay, the Air Force wants its general officers to start wearing the uniform to preview it to the rest of the force. So that's what I'm doing. Let me share with you my initial impressions of the ABU:

· It fits and feels good. There are many more sizes to choose from than the current BDU. I usually wear 32R trousers and 38R jacket, so that's what I ordered from AAFES, and believe it or not, they fit. The ABU material is more durable than our summer-weight BDUs and keeps its shape nicely even after sitting in a vehicle for many hours as I demonstrated during a recent TDY. Even though the material is thicker, its light color makes it quite cool, even in the hot sun. The fabric "breathes" nicely. 

· Lots of pockets all in the right places. 

· The ABU has buttons instead of Velcro. Although I personally would have preferred Velcro, the Army has complained about the long-term durability and appearance of Velcro on its new Army Combat Uniforms 

· The boots are nice. An attractive light green suede--no polish required! They're comfortable and cool, yet have a durable feel. It remains to be seen how they'll hold up on flight lines and in places with lots of grease and dirt. 

· They're easy to take care of. I've worn both my sets several times and an iron has yet to touch the uniform (I hope to keep it that way). You just use the permanent press cycle in the washer and dryer, hang them up, and put them on. There are strict prohibitions against using starch, dry cleaning, fabric softener, etc, and hot pressing is prohibited as well. The good news is they look great without starch or professional cleaning. I suspect that I'll be inviting the first Airman who tries to starch these to my office for a discussion. 

· They're affordable. The cost is $81.37 per set, $5.98 for the hat, and $99.95 for the boots. You've got to get name, rank, USAF, and badges sewn on, but no patches. After that, your only cost is soap and water to wash them. Clothing allowance for enlisted will be increased sometime in the Fall to take into account the new uniform.

But you know what I like best about the ABU? It's made for Airmen. For the last 20 years, our AF utility uniform, the BDU, was an Army uniform. The ABU is distinctive; it reflects the needs of Airmen; it's been wear-tested by Airmen; and I believe, will add to the pride of every Airman who wears it.

We'll keep you posted as to when the ABU will be available to you for issue and purchase.