Air Force officials at the Pentagon released the wear policy for the new Airman Battle Uniform Feb. 7.
The policy comes in time to help many of the Airmen deploying to the area of responsibility in May, as these Airmen will be among the first to get the ABU.
"We hope to have the ABU's here around October," said Diane Breedlove, Charleston AFB Military Clothing Sales supervisor.
Further ABU distribution plans will be based on production capability.
The new policy addresses uniform care, uniform wear, uniform accessories and use of tactical items that don't match the ABU's color pattern.
From the beginning of the utility uniform redesign process, Air Force leaders have said they hoped to make it easier for Airmen to take care of their uniforms. The uniform care instructions in the new policy reflect the emphasis on ease of care. Generally, the policy indicates that the uniform should be wash and wear.
"Wash in warm water ... tumble dry, permanent press cycle, remove immediately from dryer and fold flat or place on rustproof hanger," the instruction recommends. It also says the uniform could be air-dried on a hanger.
According to the new policy, the ABU is not to be starched or hot pressed in a commercial laundry.
According to the new policy, Airmen will wear sand colored T-shirts under their ABU coat. The T-shirts may be v-neck, crew neck or athletic style. Additionally, Airmen may wear self-purchased T-shirts made of material other than what is issued. Specifically, moisture wicking fabrics and cotton/poly blends are authorized as long as they are sand colored and the manufacturer's logo is not visible.
The Air Force has chosen to use the Army universal camouflage pattern for tactical items. The policy authorizes AOR wear or use of tactical items and field items only in the Army universal camouflage pattern or the desert camouflage uniform pattern. Tactical items include such things as body armor, modular lightweight load-carrying equipment, canteen covers, helmet covers, etc.
Tan combat boots are authorized with the ABU until the foliage green boots become available. The phase out date for the tan boot and the mandatory wear date for the green boot have not yet been set.
The mandatory wear date for the ABU, the date when all Airmen should be wearing the uniform, is Oct. 1, 2011.