Badges and Beards: The Air Force wants your ideas for future uniform updates
Starting now, airmen and civilians can submit their recommendations through the Air Force's website "Airman Powered by Innovation" via a Common Access Card.
"If we want an environment in which Airmen feel valued, we need to create transformative opportunities to foster a culture of innovation and then listen to their ideas," Lisa Truesdale, Air Force military force policy deputy director, said in a release. "Additionally, wearing the uniform and having pride in your personal appearance enhances esprit de corps."
Personnel can make recommendations in the following categories, according to the release:
- Grooming and appearance: such as hairstyles, beards, shaving, etc.
- Dress uniforms: service dress, mess dress and accessories (e.g. hat, shoes, shirt, belt, tie, ribbons, medals, insignia, etc.)
- Utility uniform: Operational Camouflage Pattern Uniform associated accessories (e.g. hat, boots, belt, t-shirt, insignia, etc.)
- Accessories: jewelry, earrings, rings, purses, backpacks, gym bags, phone, headphones, etc.
- Outer garments: pullover sweater, cardigan sweater, lightweight blue jacket, fleece, etc.
- Physical Training gear: shorts, pants, jacket, shoes, socks, shirt, etc.
- Flight Duty uniforms: Two-piece Flight Duty Uniform, Flight Duty Uniform, Desert Flight Duty Uniform and associated accessories (e.g. hat, boots, t-shirt, patches, insignia, etc.)
- Badges and specialty insignia: organization badges, unit patches, duty identification patches, tabs, etc.
- Maternity uniforms: service dress, utility, accessories, etc.
A uniform board will review submissions before presenting them to Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown, who will then move to revise the Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance Policy. The service will notify those airmen whose ideas were rejected.
The Air Force did not provide a timeline to roll out uniform changes, but said the move is in line with an effort to create a more inclusive culture among the ranks. Criticisms have been recently raised within multiple military services that some uniform and grooming standards, such as hair length and style regulations, unfairly tax or inconvenience non-white troops.
"We want our dress and appearance guidance to be inclusive," Truesdale said. "We are committed to considering the views of all members. Individuals contribute their highest levels of creativity when they are cared for and feel a sense of belonging."
The service recently announced it was considering allowing additional hairstyles for women in the service.
During a QA segment during the Air Force Sergeants' virtual symposium last week, Brown teased the possibility of allowing women to wear ponytails in uniform.
"I just got a package [proposal] yesterday about ponytails for women," Brown said Aug. 26. "So we're looking at a number of different things that we've got to work through, [where there are] second-order impacts associated," he said.
That review is part of an ongoing effort to "improve dress and appearance policies," where applicable, Capt. Leah Brading, a service spokeswoman, told Military.com. "We are looking at hairstyle and grooming policies, including the possibility of various new options for women," Brading said in an email.
It was not immediately clear if the IdeaScale crowdsourcing project will overshadow the ongoing hairstyle review. The Air Force could not provide additional details by press time.