U.S. Air Force ABU (Airman Battle Uniform)
Security Forces application webpage photo with U.S. Army General in foreground
Photo above: All Terrain Tiger™… Looks great and puts the BATTLE into the ABU
ABU pattern development history –
Make it stand out…
As Owner and Co-founder of Tiger Stripe Products, I lived the following story. You’ll hear the inside story and not the sanitized official government line.
The initial tiger stripe ABU project I was tasked to organize in 2002 was never intended to develop a first class real world camouflage. USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Jumper’s focus was to simply have a “distinctive” uniform that would be recognized as U.S. Air Force. Yes, that would be a fashion statement.
Contrary to my professional recommendations, the initial decision was to go with the very fashionable blue tiger. As was told to me, fabric durability, color retention, ease of care, uniform comfort, as well as a range of female sizing were high priorities while camouflage effectiveness was essentially unnecessary and a non-issue. Rejecting my ideas for a camouflage effective distinctive uniform, I was told to essentially “file away my camo ideas” and do my job in just making a distinctive pattern. Numerous more battlefield worthy patterns were submitted. All were rejected.
In the end, Leadership simply followed the lead of the U.S.M.C. and U.S. Army digital camouflage designs. A very substandard jagged digital tiger style, with a very distinctive colorway making the uniform stand out was chosen. (see photo below left)
Leadership also chose to close the ABU pattern off from any free market competition and only release it to manufacturers with a currently approved contract. You could not even get fabric to make a product sample without first having an approved contract for that item. Government bureaucracy at it’s best.
This essentially stifles new product development as well as overall product availability. Not to mention keeping product costs high. This system promotes only government made products of a certain quality, be it good or bad. From the start, I strongly suggested against closing any pattern off from the open market but was, again, ignored.
Now, you don’t want it to stand out?…
The initial “bright” ABU colorway was quickly found to be a distinct disadvantage in a battle zone because the uniform stood out just as leadership had originally wanted. After taking hostile fire in the field, the ABU’s colorway was made to look more similar to the now failed U.S. Army’s Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniform (UCP-ACU) colorway. Altering the ABU colorway to make it look similar to the failed Army UCP was just putting a band-aid on a much larger systemic problem. Not any Battle in this Airman Battle Uniform if you ask me.
Let’s NOT wear the Airman Battle Uniform in battle zones…
U.S. Air Force personnel are now not wearing the current Airman Battle Uniform in battlefield operations but are instead borrowing the Army’s Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP). The Army is now wearing the OCP due to their UCP finally being officially recognized as a very poor performing camouflage. The U.S. Army has now dumped their admitted failed UCP colorway and camouflage design. Bottom line, the current U.S. Air Force ABU tiger pattern is every bit as totally inadequate
as was the Army’s failed UCP pattern. If battles were only fought in gravel pits, both the Army’s UCP
and the Air Force’s ABU might just get by.
I’m truly sorry I couldn’t have been more helpful in providing what was submitted to USAF leadership
rather than what leadership ultimately selected. The decision was totally in the hands of Leadership.
My copyrighted tiger stripe pattern, as well as digital designs in general, are not inherently bad
camouflages. Any pattern can quickly go bad when bureaucratic politicians unilaterally decide to
make the main purpose of a Battle Uniform to be just a fashion statement.
UPDATE Sept 2014…
USAF says “NO” to new camouflage. I received this Leadership response after presenting them the All Terrain Tiger™. “We like the look of USAF personnel in the current ABU tiger and with current budget constraints, we could not undertake a major uniform upgrade at this time.” Billions for more F35’s is easily understandable though. It evidently doesn’t matter that Airmen are running around in fashion uniforms with mismatched gear looking like some third world nation. Leadership likes the look – see page top photo. “We also would prefer to save the individual Airman the personal financial cost incurred by upgrading all Airmen… to a single combat ready camouflage uniform” (like the All Terrain Tiger™). How thoughtful of Leadership.
Two uniforms… really? One for show (ABU) and one for go (U.S. Army’s OCP)? Two sets of different uniforms and gear? How much is that costing the individual Airman requiring a real world camouflage uniform for field work? If you’re paying for your own combat uniform, why not make it a great looking outstanding effective camouflage that while unique, will not stand out in the field. Plus, you maintain your Air Force organizational identity and do not have to borrow from the U.S. Army. All one mission, all one useful uniform, All Terrain Tiger™. The design that does it all for all Airmen.
Common sense decisions… Not so much
I may be old school but doesn’t it just make common sense to give everybody on the same Air Force team the same uniform no matter what the job? It’s a basic leadership concept to have everyone in an organization feel they’re ALL part of the same team. This is team building 101. The Army has done just that for decades.
It makes no common or economic sense behind having one pattern for “show” and one for “go” especially when the All Terrain Tiger™ easily fills both requirements. All Terrain Tiger™ puts the Battle into the Airman Battle Uniform for all Airmen. It is quite obvious to me that sound decisions were not made in this project toward the betterment of the U.S. Air Force. In today’s world, ALL Airmen need and deserve a single real combat ready uniform and not a fashion statement no matter what the job.
It’s time to give up the bureaucratic perpetuated falsehood that the ABU has anything to do with an actual real world “Battle” uniform. This pattern is strictly fashion and it belies the great military institution that is the U.S. Air Force. It’s time to finally come clean just as the U.S. Army has done with it’s gigantic UCP blunder. Only a bureaucrat gives a military organization a fashion uniform to fight a war. And make no mistake, the world is at war.
Hopefully, funding will be found to finance the much needed organizational upgrade to a SINGLE real-world camouflage such as the All Terrain Tiger™. Because the product is off-the-self, development costs would be minimal with field testing being the main consideration.
A general transition plan could begin with issuing to all deployed units followed by stateside field and security units. The bulk of Air Force personnel with non-field related jobs getting their uniforms next over a couple year period. This is all very do-able if the will was simply there.
Some wonder why you just can’t change the colorway of the current
pixelated tiger pattern but it’s not that simple. First, the pattern only has
four color zones allowing for only four different colors. A premium all-terrain
pattern really comes together with many more than just four colors.
More importantly, the current artwork layout and pixel style is way too
disorganized to work together as an effective all-terrain design. Your result
would again be the equivalent of putting the proverbial band-aid on a broken
The answer is All Terrain Tiger™.
– Superior all-terrain pattern design and colorway.
– It simply looks great, is down-range ready, and is very affordable.
Yes, a good camouflage can look great as well as being a world class
working camouflage pattern.
Not everyone in the Air Force knows about All Terrain Tiger™. Airmen,
help spread the word to other bases. Some installations, such as Nellis AFB,
have unofficially utilized All Terrain Tiger™ in training with outstanding
It is a very valuable tool in training scenarios as well as on the battlefield.
– All Terrain Tiger™ puts the BATTLE into the Airman Battle Uniform.
– FAST TRACK the All Terrain Tiger™. You will not be disappointed.
Tiger Stripe Products
Owner and Co-founder
All Terrain Tiger™… available To ALL
Any approved Military, Government, Government Agency, Law Enforcement Agency, or Professional Security Force can now deliver extremely high camouflage effectiveness to it’s personnel with this outstanding new Tiger Stripe camouflage design, the All Terrain Tiger™.
As the designer of this great new copyrighted camouflage, peak all-terrain camouflage effectiveness was my number one priority. All Terrain Tiger™ would be a massive upgrade for both Garrison wear and Combat operations over the current USAF ABU.
This newly updated tiger pattern design delivers superior all-terrain camouflage performance and superior uniform construction while still being very affordable when compared to similar products. Tru-Spec® All Terrain Tiger™ uniforms are the perfect alternative to today’s higher priced camouflage selections. The available All Terrain Tiger™ uniform styles and superior pattern
make them ideal for Special Operation Units as well as for everyday duties.
All designs are copyright protected. Unauthorized
“substantially similar” designs are, of course, in
violation of copyright laws and are subject to
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