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New AFI outlines dress, appearance

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Michael LaPlant
  • 615th Contingency Response Wing command chief
In 1995 Gen. Ronald Fogelman, former Air Force Chief of Staff said that in order to be effective, Air Force standards must be uniformly known, consistently applied and non-selectively enforced. He went on to say the principle that good order and discipline are essential to combat effectiveness has not changed throughout the years.

Those words ring true today just as they did 16 years ago, however I think over the last few years we've struggled with one particular area of standards, dress and appearance. Mainly because the source document, Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Appearance of Air Force Personnel, was outdated, ambiguous and inconsistent. Compounding the problem was the need to search multiple websites to find unconsolidated message traffic; making it difficult to be "uniformly known" and therefore equally difficult to "consistently apply" and "non-selectively enforce."

Fortunately on July 18 of this year, the Air Force published the new version of AFI 36-2903. I encourage you to read through it; there are considerable changes and many things put back in that were left out from years past. Once you've done this, you can check yourself and have the knowledge, while being a good wingman and checking others. One word of advice, you should correct standards with respect and dignity, and of course with the proper use of customs and courtesies. Doing so will help ensure continued compliance and perpetuate the "uniformly known" part.

If you're reading this and thinking I've got better things to do than be the 'uniform police,' I would argue you cannot afford to dishearten the majority by being relaxed with those few who fail to meet, or choose to ignore, Air Force standards.

Our military standards are higher than those in our society at large because of what we do. We defend our nation. The tools of our trade are lethal. We have to hold ourselves and others accountable for their actions and dress and appearance is the foundation.

Fogelman went on to say failure to ensure accountability will destroy the trust of the American public, living under the U.S. Constitution we swore to support and defend, and who look to us, the members of their nation's Air Force, to embrace and live by the standards that are higher than those in the society we serve.

Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Appearance of Air Force Personnel, is located on Air Force e-publishing website at