Delayed arrival of ABU forces Airmen to turn to online sources

  • Published
  • By Holly Birchfield
  • 78 ABW/PA

With the Airman Battle Uniform currently out of reach at the Military Clothing Sales Store at Robins, some Airmen are turning to authorized online sources to get the new uniform.

Per Air Force policy, Airmen must begin wearing the ABU beginning in November 2011. Although Airmen don't have to wear the uniform for another four years - the ABU can neither be mandated nor prohibited during the transition period - some are trying to get the uniform as some of their current Battle Dress Uniforms are hanging on by a thread.

Staff Sgt. Wesley Dellinger, a voice network systems craftsman in the 54th Combat Communications Squadron, said he began searching for the ABU in mid-September.

"I've gone to the BX," he said. "I've called other BXs at Moody (Air Force Base, Ga.) and at Eglin (Air Force Base, Fla.) and I've found the same thing every time. They don't know when they're getting it."

Pat Hall, manager of the Military Clothing Sales Store, said her store had the uniform in February, but they were available only to major command and general officers at the time.

Ms. Hall said she hasn't heard when her store will receive another ABU shipment from its supplier, the Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia.

Sergeant Dellinger, like other Airmen, turned to Military Accessories and Community Support Inc. to get his hands on the new threads.

Sergeant Dellinger placed his order in late September and is now waiting for his ABU to arrive.

Master Sgt. Aaron Rogusky, director of education at Robins NCO Academy, bought his ABU through one of the authorized online sites approved by the original manufacturer, Propper International.

Sergeant Rogusky said he has found that many online sources offer not only the authorized ABU, but they also provide all of the accessories that accompany it.

Desert tan crew neck T-shirts are the only T-shirt authorized for wear with the ABU. Desert sand colored turtlenecks are authorized for wear in cold weather.

ABU sage green boots are authorized for wear with all utility uniforms. Desert tan boots are also authorized for wear with the ABU until the mandatory wear date.

Only the ABU patrol cap is authorized for wear with the ABU outside of the area of responsibility. Organizational caps are no longer authorized.

Occupational badges are optional, but no patches are authorized on the ABU.

"(Airmen should) go to Propper and they've got several different links to authorized sellers of the official ABU uniform," he said. "They can go there and pick one and they can get them within a couple of weeks."

The NCO said people should make sure they go through an authorized supplier; otherwise, they're not getting the real uniform.

A clothing allowance increase will go into effect this month to help offset the increased cost of the uniform. Airmen who choose to buy the new uniforms before their anniversary date in fiscal 2008 will absorb the cost difference until they receive their clothing allowance.

(Staff Sgt. Monique Randolph, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, contributed to this article.)