OCP patches: a good time to redesign?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Benjamin N. Valmoja
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

With the new Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP, uniforms rolling into service Air Force-wide in October 2018, come the uniform patches to go with them.


Before designing and ordering patches for units, many are stressing the importance of understanding the rules and regulations that come with the patches. Patches play an important part in military heritage, and moving forward with them is no exception, however in effort to save precious unit time and funding, a few things must be addressed before the ball starts rolling.


Most importantly, said William McEvoy, 47th Flying Training Wing historian, is that the rolling out of the new uniforms is not necessarily a time for a redesign of units’ patches.


“It’s the most common problem that my colleagues and I have ran into,” he said. “Other historians from across the Air Force are having to tell units that now is not the time to do an overhaul on the unit symbol, because the unit symbols stand for so much.”


The regulation backing this, Air Force Instruction 85-105, highlights in paragraph three that “organizations need visible, enduring symbols in the form of emblems to promote esprit de corps, morale, and a sense of heritage. Air Force heraldry meets this need only as long as emblems are designed to uniform standards and are not readily changed.”

McEvoy said while the official unit patch assigned to a particular unit is more or less concrete, morale patches are where Airmen have more creative freedom.

“The morale patch is meant to be more relatable,” McEvoy explained. “As long as patch designers are aware of copyrights and such, this is where we can have fun.”

Patches and symbols give units identity, and an image for the people serving in that unit to tie themselves to.  Master Sgt. Aurelio Lopez, 47th Communications Squadron cyber security section chief, said that he’s glad to see them coming back to the Air Force’s uniform.

"Back when we had unit patches with our BDU's I loved it,” Lopez said. “It let people know who I was and what I was a part of. I was proud to be a Comm Airman and it felt good to display the patch where people can see it. Now that we're moving back to unit patches with the OCP's I think it gives us back that sense of identity and unit pride."

According to Air Force Personnel Center full guidance on the transition to OCPs will be updated in the future and will be made available as soon as it’s ready. Airmen are regularly encouraged to check for updates.