Airmen filling certain billets first to receive OCP uniform for everyday wear

By AFNS on July 8, 2011

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- As the green of the Battle Dress Uniform fades into Air Force history, a new 'green' is beginning for certain Airmen deploying to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 180 joint expeditionary tasking Airmen assigned to provincial reconstruction teams are wearing the OEF Camouflage Pattern or "multi-cams," as their everyday uniform during their nearly year-long deployment to Afghanistan this summer.

While many individual Airmen already have been issued the Joint Service Solution Uniform, the Airmen in PRTs are the first Air Force personnel to don the OCPs. The uniform gives Airmen unique benefits and features that the Airman Battle System-Ground and Airman Battle Uniform cannot deliver. These features are important to PRT JET Airmen due to the high number of "outside the wire" tasks they perform to support the International Security Assistance Force mission to bring security, governance, agricultural support, reconstruction and development to Afghanistan and its people.

"OCPs have a more advanced camouflage pattern that blends in with the Afghan terrain, making our Airmen safer and more effective on the battlefield," said Lt. Col. Shawna McGowan, the Air Force future programs branch chief. "The material is also flame resistant, lighter weight than the ABS-G or ABU, and contains a pre-applied bug repellant."

OCPs were issued in April to PRT JET Airmen during the two month-long Combat Skills Training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind. Some Airmen began wearing the uniform as early as possible to get used to the unique pattern and features. Feedback has been positive.

"OCPs are significantly lighter and breathe easier than ABUs," said Senior Airman Sandra Welch, a PRT Khost photographer deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. "ABUs and Arizona equals extreme heat, OCPs and Afghanistan is a much cooler combination."

All of the issued uniforms and equipment for Airmen deploying to Afghanistan are in the OCP pattern. These include the seven-layer extended cold weather clothing system, advanced combat helmet, combat shirt, improved outer tactical vest, ruck sack, assault pack and elbow and knee pads.

While unit patches went away with the BDUs, Airmen who don OPCs will be able to attach unit identifiers to their uniforms. OCPs mirror the Army Combat Uniform with Velcro name tapes and rank on the chest and Velcro unit patches and an American flag on the shoulders. JET Airmen stand out from their Soldier and Sailor counterparts wearing OCPs due to their "spice brown" colored name and service tapes and enlisted ranks.

The first JET Airmen to wear OCPs were part of a military working dog team aligned with the Army's 10th Mountain Division in January. Air Force-led PRTs can have as many as 38 JET Airmen. These Airmen come from a wider array of career fields to include personnel, logistics, communications, medical, public affairs, services, intelligence, security forces and maintenance.

In a memo dated Sept. 29, 2010 by Lt. Gen. Gilmary Hostage III, the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, OCPs became the ground-combat uniform to be worn by all Airmen performing missions outside the wire in Afghanistan.