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Air Force Gets New Uniform

November 1, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Air Force is stripping its uniform of epaulets, buttons and other ″doo-dads″ to present a sleeker, more elegant version for the airmen and airwomen of the next century.

Rejecting years of polyester double knit, Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill McPeak ordered up a more stylish, less cluttered and less expensive attire for his officers and enlisted personnel.

″It’s a return to basics,″ the four-star general explained as he modeled a prototype blazer and slacks for Pentagon reporters and photographers Thursday.

″I’m not the best model,″ the pencil-thin, 6-foot-2-inch general acknowledged with a grin as he pulled at the front of his three-button jacket to show its slimmer cut, new full lining and poly-wool blend fabric.

McPeak had complained that the older version was only a ″blue version of the Army uniform,″ and needed to be revised to reflect the ″aerospace profession″ for the air war victors of the Persian Gulf War.

Even though no U.S. initials or flag are on the uniform, McPeak said the uniform retains a military air because of the mandatory service ribbons that are to be worn on the left side of the jacket.

″It fits in with ... our image of a streamlined, trim and tougher Air Force, with less doo-dads of all kinds,″ he said.

Dropped from the old uniform were its collar insignia, four patch pockets, two epaulets, the name tag, seven buttons on the epaulets and pockets, the metal rank insignia and the officer’s braid.

McPeak pointed with pride to his newly designed rank insignia - one broad row of tiny, silver embroidered clouds and thunderbolts topped by three general’s stripes - now located on the cuff of the sleeve instead of on shoulder epaulets.

The new enlisted rank insignia will be bigger and bolder, and similar to styles used by enlisted members of the other services.

Capt. Cathy McGinn wore the women’s version of the officer’s uniform, which is also more form-fitting than the older version. It also trades the old A- line skirt for a straighter model with pleats at the waistline and a kickpleat in the back.

″It is streamlined and functional, with an understated elegance,″ said the captain, who is the chief of the Air Force’s clothing branch at Wright- Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

The new uniforms, the same medium blue as the current version, will be in the stores by 1994, and required dress several years later for all Air Force members.

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