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Sharp uniforms project competence during inspections

In preparation for the April unit compliance inspection, Col. Peter Castor, 28th Bomb Wing vice commander, will help prepare Ellsworth by acting as the Inspector General during a series of walkthroughs. Colonel Castor will review each unit here, offering them insight on what they should expect during the actual UCI. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Adam Grant)

Unit Compliance Inspection for the 11th Wing at Andrews AFB, Md. begins in 133 days. The base will run uniform tips every week in preparation.

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- In early June, the 11th Wing will undergo a comprehensive Unit Compliance Inspection (UCI). At that time, experts from many different functional areas will arrive here at Joint Base Andrews to evaluate our processes and procedures to verify our compliance with established laws, directives and instructions. Like you, I have begun to pour over my programs to prepare. The process reminds me of a lesson I learned during basic training.

I remember agonizing for hours preparing for the looming "locker inspection". I folded, refolded and, again, refolded my underwear to ensure they were 6 inch squared. I triple checked all my uniforms to ensure they were hung in the right direction with equal space between all the hangers. I even had a buddy look over my locker to ensure I hadn't overlooked any obvious errors.

Soon, the day of the inspection arrived. My training instructor, known for his superhuman voice, entered the bay and called my flight to "ATTENTION" at a decibel level unmatched by modern acoustics. As he approached me, I stood motionless taking special care not to "eyeball" him. I found out earlier in the week how much he hated that, and my ears were still ringing. I was convinced that he was going tear through my locker. As he stood in front of me, he examined my uniform. After what seemed to be an eternity, he leaned toward me and whispered, "I can tell by the shine on your boots that your locker is in inspection order." With that said, he moved on to induce tinnitus on the other members of my flight.

The moral of the story is that the way we adhere to uniform standards communicates the culture of compliance within our community. If we do not wear our uniforms properly we clearly communicate to our UCI inspector that our commitment to compliance is suspect and that his time deeply probing our programs and processes will be well served. In the words of Col. Rizer, "The way we wear our uniforms offers inspectors a glimpse into our compliance soul."

In the spirit of UCI preparation, my fellow first sergeants and I will author a weekly "Diamond Compliance Corner" to outline proper uniform wear and our first topic is the sage green fleece.

According to Air Force Personnel Center's official uniform site, the sage green fleece can only be worn in two possible configurations.

1) As an APECs Jacket/Parka liner or

2) As an outer garment.

As such, the sage green fleece must always be worn over the ABU blouse. When worn as an outer garment, the sage green fleece must:

A. Have a Velcro ABU print last name tape with dark blue lettering centered on the wearers right chest.

B. Have a Velcro subdued cloth rank with a solid sage green background (no ABU pattern) flushed and centered above the last name tape.

C. Have a Velcro ABU print "U.S. AIR FORCE" tape with dark blue lettering adjacent to the last name tape and centered between the zipper and sleeve on the wearers left chest.

D. Remain zipped no lower than halfway between the name tape and collar.

E. Have the collar folded over resting on the shoulder, chest, and back when the zipper is not completely zipped.

F. Have the bottom length match as closely as possible to the length of the ABU blouse.

G. Be worn with sleeves down

H. Remain neat and serviceable at all times.

Lastly, the only authorized cold weather items to be worn with the sage green fleece are black or sage green gloves (leather, fleece, or knit), black or sage green watch caps (sage green fleece watch caps are authorized), black scarves (must be tucked in) and black earmuffs.

Our goal is clear. We aim to score an overall Excellent or Outstanding on our UCI. Together we can make significant strides toward that goal by tightening our adherence to uniform standards.