Department of the Air Force to allow shorts for maintainers, updates variety of uniform options

Airman inspect aircraft

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Carl Shmidt, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainer, inspects a C-17 Globemaster III engine for debris or damage during a flight recovery inspection July 11, 2020 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The pandemic threw a wrench into annual training plans, but 446th AMXS maintainers continue to persevere by working alongside the active-duty 62nd AMXS. This total force integration helps the units support local daily tasks, such as launch and recovery of aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Erb)

Airman hangs red tags on aircraft

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Paolo Felicitas, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight crew chief, secures red tags, which indicate a successful flight recovery, on a C-17 Globemaster III July 11, 2020 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The 446th AMXS maintainers continue to persevere through a pandemic by working alongside the 62nd AMXS. This total force integration helps the units support local daily tasks, such as launch and recovery of aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Erb)


Airmen and Guardians will now have more dress and appearance options with upcoming uniform changes to Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Appearance.

“These options came directly from feedback from the field through the virtual uniform board and feedback from commands in the field,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services. “We appreciated the feedback we received from Airmen and the opportunity to hear their concerns and ideas. Not all of the ideas fit within our standards or culture, but many do and provided us an opportunity to provide options for our Airmen.”

The following changes will be effective March 15, upon publication of an interim change to Air Force Instruction 36-2903.

Commanders of Airmen in the 2-Series Air Force specialty codes may authorize wear of dark navy blue shorts in lieu of the Airman Battle Uniform, or ABU, or Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP, trousers in authorized maintenance areas when high temperatures are forecasted to meet or exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Authorized areas will include the flight line, hangars and dock areas outside of climate-controlled areas. If commanders authorize the wear of the shorts, they will meet specified requirements that will be incorporated in the upcoming change to AFI 36-2903 for standardization and be worn with the coyote brown T-shirt and uniform green or coyote brown socks with uniform boots.

Additionally, Airmen and Guardians in all specialties will be authorized to wear their functional community’s approved duty identifier patches. The identifier will be a maximum of five letters and maintain a standard spice brown color scheme.

Airmen and Guardians will also have more options for sock colors, glasses frames and bags carried in uniform. Service members will be able to wear conservative, solid black, white, navy blue, gray, desert sand, tan, Defense Logistics Agency‚Äźissued green or coyote brown socks with their physical training gear. The socks may have small trademark logos. New guidance for eyeglasses and sunglasses will allow more color options for frames to include black, brown, white, navy blue, gray or transparent material, or gold or silver wire. Finally, additional options for bags and bag colors will be authorized. Messenger and lunch bags will be permitted, and the following colors will be approved for all bags to be carried in uniform: black, brown, gray and navy blue. All authorized bags must be without design, unless ABU or OCP pattern.

Also approved through the Air Force Virtual uniform board recommendations are increased accessory options. Members will be authorized to wear cold weather accessories without wearing authorized outer garments. For example, the fleece cap and/or gloves may be worn without an outer garment. Headphones or Bluetooth devices may be authorized in more environments. Wear or use of an earpiece, any Bluetooth wireless technology or headphones while in uniform, indoors or outdoors, is authorized for official duties or may be authorized as determined by the installation commander, delegable no lower than the squadron commander level.

Finally, tactical caps will be authorized for wear with the OCP uniform once the acquisition process is complete for the new uniform item, which is expected to take approximately a year.

In addition to these approved suggestions, numerous other ideas from the 101st Air Force Virtual uniform board are still under consideration. Information on these items will be released at a later date.

For more information on changes, reference AFI 36-2903 Dress and Appearance.

AFI 36-2903 is a Department of the Air Force Instruction applicable to both the Air Force and Space Force. Space Force will follow these policies until service-specific policies are developed and fielded.