Air Force tweaks OCP nametapes, insignia for easier reading
Looks like the Occupational Camouflage Pattern’s camo is so good you can't even read names off of it.
The Air Force said Thursday it is tweaking the newly-adopted OCP uniforms to make things like nametapes and rank insignia easier to read or identify.
The OCP uniform, which the Air Force began shifting to in 2018, currently has a seven-color background for nametapes, service tapes, rank insignia, and badges. But now, the Air Force is switching to a lighter, three-color background.
"We received significant feedback that prompted this update," Lisa Truesdale, Air Force military force management policy deputy director, said in the release. "The current rank insignia, badges, name, and service tapes on the OCP uniform are sometimes challenging to see against a seven-color background. Simplifying these features on a lighter, three-color pattern - while not compromising the overall functionality of the uniform - will improve our situational awareness in day-to-day interactions."
While the OCP is vastly more popular than the old Airman Battle Uniform it is replacing, visibility of rank insignia suffered in the transition, especially on the enlisted side. The ABU worn by enlisted airmen had large, very visible rank insignia worn on the upper part of each sleeve.
But the OCP shifted the rank shown on its top part to a single, smaller insignia worn in the middle of the chest. This sometimes made it tricky to count the number of chevrons on someone's chest and, for example, tell a senior master sergeant from a chief from a distance.
The popular Marine Corps comic strip Terminal Lance spoofed this dilemma in a 2010 entry called "The Stare." In it, a hapless Marine struggles to decipher the blob of black rank on a senior noncommissioned officer's collar to properly wish him good morning, but isn't fast enough and is told, in true Marine fashion, "Too late, **** knuckles."
In it, a hapless Marine sees an SNCO walking his way, but can't decipher his rank. He rapidly rifles through ranks and settles on "Good morning, master sergeant!"