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General revises clothing policy for Airmen deploying to SWA

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

SOUTHWEST ASIA (June 29, 2004) -- All Airmen deploying to the Central Command area of responsibility must now ensure the clothing they pack is in step with a recent dress and appearance policy revision now in effect.

The most significant change requires Airmen to wear either desert camouflage uniforms or physical training gear while on an Air Force installation in Southwest Asia, said Lt. Gen. Buck Buchanan, U.S. Central Command Air Forces commander.

When the Air Force physical training uniform is made available, it and DCUs will be the only authorized clothing for Airmen assigned to units in theater, unless they are specifically authorized to wear something else, the general said.

General Buchanan’s new policy ensures the Airmen’s attire portrays a positive military image and supports the area’s force-protection posture.

“As a military community, we are increasingly taking on the role of U.S. ambassadors,” General Buchanan wrote in the policy letter. “We must also ensure protection of our forces. Accordingly, I have reviewed proper order and discipline requirements and force-protection policies, in regards to dress and appearance, to ensure every possible step has been taken to portray a positive military image and to protect the personnel assigned to this command.”

At Army installations in the region, the Army dress and appearance requirements, which parallel the new CENTAF policies, will be the standard for deployed Airmen.

Because the Air Force PT uniform is still in development, Airmen are authorized to wear civilian-style PT gear as long as it is conservative, professional and with only minimal and appropriate decoration. Shirts must have sleeves and be predominantly a solid color. Shorts must reach to the mid or lower thigh and can not be made of spandex, the general said.

For duty-related tasks that require civilian clothing, for military travel in and out of the theater, and for locations where Airmen are authorized to leave the installation for cultural or recreational activities, they must wear conservative clothing. The policy defines "conservative" as sleeved shirts and dress pants or jeans, which fit properly and are a solid, dark color and are in good repair. Shoes should also be conservative and sturdy. Well-maintained sneakers or hiking boots are recommended while open-toed shoes, sandals and "flip-flops" are prohibited.

The policy gives installation commanders the leeway to authorize people to wear civilian clothing for specific official duties or visits, special activities and specialized PT such as swimming, weight lifting, basketball and volleyball. The clothing authorized in these instances will be conservative as defined and posted by installation commanders.

A new policy letter specifically states that Airmen deploying to the AOR should bring only a “minimum amount of civilian clothing,” defined as no more than two dress outfits and/or two casual outfits, not including standard or specialized PT gear.

“How military members present themselves both on and off duty continues to be an important part of the effect our presence has at locations across the globe,” General Buchanan said. “This policy ensures our Airmen’s dress and appearance give the same professional impression that their tireless accomplishment of the mission does every day. And as importantly, the conservative, low profile it creates reinforces our force-protection goals and operations in the theater.”

Airmen deploying can get more information or a copy of the policy letter at their local military personnel flight.