By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published September 07, 2018
Master Sgt. Lucas Applewhite, 403rd Security Forces Squadron action officer, displays the new 403rd SFS unit patch Nov. 7, 2017 at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney)
The Air Force’s top leaders have announced that the entire force will be transitioning from the sage green Airman Battle Uniform to the Operational Combat Uniform beginning Oct. 1, 2018, ultimately phasing out the ABU completely by April 2021.
The ABU and the OCP have many color differences, resulting in changes and updates for squadron patches to be worn on the OCP.
The scheduled date for initial wear of the OCP uniform is less than a month away, yet there is still confusion as to when the squadron patches will become available.
The process to have a squadron emblem approved is a long one that involves the base historian, the Major Command historian, the Air Force Historical Research Agency and then finally the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, the organization responsible for creating heraldry for the entire Department of Defense.
Before Airmen can represent their squadrons on their arm, the emblems have to go through all of these organizations for approval and then production.
Dr. Robert Kane, Air University director of history, stated that after the announcement of the Air Force’s switch to the OCP uniform, headquarters Air Education and Training Command requested that he send a list of all the Air University squadrons that already had a digital image of their official emblem previously approved by AFHRA. In the process of identifying those squadrons, he found six AU squadrons without an official emblem. Since then, Kane has completed the necessary steps to have all AU squadrons on track to receive their approved squadron emblems.
“Thus, by the end of July, I and headquarters AETC history office had taken all of the steps needed for all AU units to eventually obtain the digital OCP version of their official unit emblems,” Kane stated. “Since TIOH [The Institute of Heraldry] has to produce OCP versions of the official emblem for over 7,000 Air Force units as well as produce heraldic products for other U.S. government agencies, it will probably be after Oct. 1., if not later, before Air Force units start receiving their official OCP digital emblems.”
Once TIOH produces the digital images of the squadron emblems they will be channeled back down the chain to Kane and from there he will distribute them out to the respective squadron commanders for purchase.
Squadrons that have not begun the process to have their patches approved can look to Air Force Instruction 84–105, Organizational Lineage, Honors and Emblems, for guidance on sending prospective emblem designs to the base historian.