SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Chiefs get asked the darndest things
One of the “perks” of being a Chief is being imbued with all-knowing power… or at least that’s what we’d have you believe. I’m always mildly surprised and amused when people assume Chiefs have all the answers. I certainly thought so when I was coming up the ranks. Sadly, it turns out Chiefs really don’t know it all. Instead, you can attribute our wisdom to the fact we’ve seen and done enough in our careers to be able to make an experienced guess at where we can find the right answer. (You can also rightly infer that it’s because we’re old!) In this installment, I’ll draw my “wisdom” from AFI 36-2903, Dress and Appearance. Check it out. It’s freely available on Air Force e-Publishing if you want to gain a little wisdom of your own. Here are some of the questions I’ve fielded lately:
Chief, can I wear the A2 Leather Flying Jacket if it was issued to me? Maybe yes, but probably no. This is a trick question: AFI 36-2903 says yes, if you are a rated officer or a non-rated aircrew member who has been permanently awarded an aeronautical badge. The AFI also says certain 13SX officers and 1C6XX enlisted are authorized to wear the jacket. Here’s where it gets tricky: this does not apply to personnel assigned to Air Force Space Command. AFI 36-2903 AFSPCSUP I states military personnel in any Air Force Specialty Code assigned to an AFSPC unit are not authorized to wear the flight suit, green flight jacket, nor the A-2 leather jacket unless they are engaged in flying operations.
Chief, winter is coming… Can I wear this? That depends what this is. Here are some of the common winter combinations:
Outer garments for the Airman Battle Uniform
-- Sage green fleece may be worn indoors while in immediate work area only (authorized by the 50th Space Wing commander).
-- All-Purpose Environmental Clothing System is worn outdoors only.
-- Cold-weather parka can be worn with all uniform combinations and is worn outdoors only.
Outer garments for the Service (Blue) Uniform
-- Lightweight Blue Jacket may be worn indoors.
-- Cardigan can be worn indoors buttoned or unbuttoned but must be completely buttoned when worn outdoors.
Under garments for the ABU
-- Sleep shirt-authorized colors are sage green or sand.
-- Thermal underwear-authorized colors are sand, cream or white.
Under garments for the physical training uniform
-- Form fitting undershirts-authorized colors are white or light gray.
-- Form fitting short, mid and full length tights-authorized colors are black or dark blue.
Cold weather accessories for the ABU are only worn when wearing authorized outer garments (Exception: gloves can be worn solely with ABUs and service dress.) With the exception of functional items, cold weather accessories are only worn while outdoors.
-- Scarf must be tucked in, worn only with authorized outer garments, except the cardigan and pull over sweaters, and will not exceed 10 inches in width. Authorized color is black.
-- Earmuffs may wrap around either the top or rear of the head and only when wearing authorized outer garments. Authorized color is black.
-- Gloves-authorized colors are black or sage green.
-- Watch cap-authorized colors are black or sage green.
Cold weather accessories for the service dress uniform
-- Scarf must be tucked in. Authorized color is black.
-- Earmuffs may wrap around either the top or rear of the head. Authorized color is black.
-- Gloves-authorized color is black.
Cold weather accessories for the PTU
-- Scarf-authorized colors are black or dark blue.
-- Earmuffs may wrap around either the top or rear of the head. Authorized colors are black or dark blue.
-- Gloves-authorized colors are black or dark blue.
-- Watch cap-authorized colors are black, dark blue or sage green.
Chief, as an enlisted 3DXXX I do “cyber” stuff…Can I wear the Cyberspace Operations Badge (a.k.a. “wiki-wings”)? Sorry, my 3-Delta friend, no. The Cyberspace Operations Badge is restricted to personnel with core 17D, 17S and 1B4 Air Force specialty codes. While you may see a stray 3DXXX sporting the wiki-wings today, that ends Sept. 3, 2017. Besides, your 3DXXX Cyberspace Support badge is a cyber badge, so wear it proudly.
Chief, why is any of this important? That’s simple: if you fail to enforce standards, you create a new standard. It’s been my experience Airmen don't intentionally try to break the rules, so if people are making a mistake it's probably because they didn't know the standard. However, when we fail to address and correct deviations our apathy then becomes the norm. Failing to uphold even simple uniform standards is the first toppled domino toward degrading good order and discipline. If you see a uniform violation, take the time and responsibility to respectfully correct the situation. And if you don’t know the right answer you can always ask a Chief.