General John Raymond, chief of space operations for the US Space Force, presented the latest prototype of the service’s uniform during a Senate hearing on Tuesday. The new version features some notable changes after critics toasted an earlier version last year.
Raymond’s tight-fitting uniform, which he wore while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the service’s proposed 2023 budget, is the latest version to be publicly displayed since the first was unveiled during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference. in September.
Notable changes to the uniform that Raymond sported include “adding stripes to the pants, changing the pocket style, adding pockets to the lower half of the jacket, and decreasing the number of buttons on the inner enclosure of the jacket”, Maj. Vicky Porto, an Air Force Department spokeswoman said in an email.
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A Military.com reporter who saw Raymond walk out of court thought the pants looked reasonably tailored, though the addition of the stripes made them look like sweatpants.
When the initial version of the uniform debuted at the Air Force Association’s annual conference last year, critics took to social media to complain about its sci-fi-inspired look and, in particular, how baggy the pants were.
“The new Space Force uniform… A mix of the Star Trek Enterprise uniform, but with the diagonal of the mirror universe,” said Peter Singer, a renowned military commentator and author of “LikeWar : the militarization of social media”. tweeted during last year’s deployment.
Critics dominated the news cycle, and Space Force vowed to try again.
“We heard your comments,” the service tweeted shortly after the conference. “New pants, new fit coming soon.”
Porto told Military.com that after the unveiling of the first prototype, Space Force held a three-month “uniform roadshow” and visited 10 bases to “give Guardians the opportunity to view the uniform, pose for questions and provide feedback on the design.”
Tracy Roan, chief of the Air Force Uniform Bureau at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, helped lead many of the changes.
“We want to make sure their fit is the best it can be because it allows them to do their job better,” Roan told Military.com in February. “It also comforts them and makes them proud of their appearance and their representation of the country.”
One of the main criticisms of the original version was the tight collar, which has now been reworked to “better frame the tie”, Porto said in an email. In another change, the women’s version of the jacket has been lengthened.
One of the main goals of the design process was to create unisex pieces, which Roan says can be welcoming to non-binary service members.
“As we look at their new service dress, we are looking specifically at the tie options that women, in particular, could wear a tie, like their male counterparts,” she said. “Especially if you’re not binary, you could wear a tie, and there’s no connection to either gender.”
The pandemic has caused delays for the textile industry, pushing back the date when the uniform will be available in the ranks. Once the uniform has been tested and finally approved, it likely won’t be available to all Guardians until 2025.
In addition to developing the uniform, Roan said his office was beginning to prototype maternity clothes for the Space Force Guardians.
— Thomas Novelly can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.
— Rebecca Kheel contributed to this report.
Related: Air Force Makes Uniform Changes With Women In Mind, Space Force Works To Fix Those Baggy Pants
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