The official wear date for the operational camouflage pattern uniform is Oct. 1.
Some Airmen preparing to deploy, or who have deployed previously and those who have been assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command or Air Force Global Strike Command may already have these uniforms. Others have already purchased OCPs to make sure they are ready come the first week of October.
However, there is a caveat attached to the wear date.
James Mesco, historian with the 50th Space Wing, has been coordinating with the Air Force Space Command historian’s office to clear official uniform patches.
Air Staff Manpower and Personnel, A1, is the authority in ensuring the process is executed.
“AFSPC needs a policy letter and/or a revised major command version of AFI 36-2903,” Mesco said. “The historian’s offices support the wing, groups and squadrons with the appropriate data on their specific emblem once we receive the OCP conversion information through the Institute of Heraldry and the Air Force Historical Research Agency.”
In the conversion process, all Air Force heraldry will be examined to figure out the best way to convert the colors of the current emblems into a configuration meeting the OCP color scheme.
Once Headquarters Air Force Manpower and Personnel pays for the conversion, anticipated to be within fiscal year 2019 around on or about Oct. 1, production will begin of the approved patches. This process alone could take a considerable amount of time, according to Mesco.
“The conversion process at TIOH will take between six to nine months and the release will be all at once. HAF/A1 will not release them as TIOH completes the action,” Mesco said. “For some units without heraldry or requiring updates, it may take a little longer.”
Another challenge in the transition is the uniform itself, since OCPs have been part of the Air Force’s inventory since 2012.
Master Sgt. Kathy Blake, superintendent with the 50th Comptroller Squadron, explained manufacturers cannot produce enough OCPs for every Airman to purchase right away.
“Even though they are authorized to wear Oct. 1, everyone has not been given the opportunity to own the OCP uniform,” Blake said. “We are all excited for the change and have been given a long three year transition period.”
Mesco cautioned purchasing accouterments and uniform sets until local guidance is issued.
“Until proper guidance is given, individuals could end up spending unit or personnel funds improperly,” he said.
Mesco said the biggest thing to remember is wearing the new uniform Oct. 1 is an option, not a mandate. The wear of the uniform is not mandatory until April 1, 2021.
“Be patient,” Blake said. “Approved wearing of the OCP is a step in the right direction in maintaining a single combat utility uniform, bringing back unit patches and most importantly it is giving the Airmen what they have been asking for.”
To view the most current guideance for the OCPs, visit: https://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Dress-and-Appearance/.