It may come as no surprise that three of the Air Force’s dumbest rules concern uniforms. The service has invested millions over the past decade developing multiple camouflage uniforms, dickering over different colored boots, tinkering with flight line uniforms and even with PT clothing — all of it irritating to airmen who are still unsatisfied with what they’ve got.
Fixing the uniforms is complex and expensive, but changing three wear rules would be easy, cost-free and please airmen:
1) Allow crew-neck T-shirts with open-collar dress and service uniforms. There is no reason to force an airman who might be self-conscious about chest hair to expose it at work. Marines, soldiers and sailors already wear white crew-necks under their service uniforms. The Air Force should just get in line.
2) Ease up on the reflective belts already. Leaving the rules to individual bases means some commanders require airmen to wear the belts while exercising in broad daylight or walking to the dining hall. Worse, in the war zone, the belts can make airmen into vulnerable, well-lit targets. Make the belts optional except in low-light, high-risk situations.
3) Lift the ban on wearing brightly colored running shoes with PT gear. Airmen should be focused on finding the best-fitting, right-sized shoes that provide the support they need to avoid injury. So what if they happen to be lime green? As long as the shoes help airmen shed pounds, stay fit and beat the clock on the PT test, lay off.
Air Force officials created IDEA, the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program, to take ideas from airmen and put them into action. That’s fine. But these three rules need no further review. Getting rid of them now would would go a long way to removing workplace annoyances that provide no value to the force, while driving airmen crazy.