RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

What to Wear…?

This news story about the new uniform to be issued to British Armed Forces got me thinking today.

It got me thinking about the amount of clothing I have been issued over the years. In my years in the service I’ve been issued the following:

No 1 Dress Uniform.
No 2 Working Dress.
DPM CS95 Combats.
Desert DPM CS95 Combats.
Tropical DPM Combats.
Khaki Drill (KD) Uniform.
(Oh and I bought my own No 5 Mess Dress.)

Now that’s a LOT of stuff.

And a lot of kit. At a lot of money for each set of clothes, because the No 2’s is, if I recall correctly, three pairs of trousers, two jumpers, 5 shirts, two ties, two belts, one pair of shoes and several pairs of socks. Added to that, there is a General Purpose Jacket (GPJ) – like a Bomber jacket as well as a Gore-Tex raincoat.

The CS95 has a similar range of kit – a lot of stuff…which means I need a big locker to store it in.

Now I had a thought about the range of sizes that are needed. And the amount of kit that there needs to be for 42,000 members of the RAF. And the stroage space for it.

It all adds up to a lot of clothing – and a lot of money spent of just clothing the RAF.

For what?

Why do we need so many different items of clothing. Why do we need so many items of clothing?

What for? Those who work on aircraft also have a set of working dark blue shirts and sets of denim coveralls to protect their uniform. What’s the point of all this kit?

Why not get rid of the No2 working blues? We don’t need them. Everything we do can be done in Combats. We could save a huge amount from the defence budget by binning the blues, and just wearing the greens.

CS95 is more comfortable and hardwearing. It woud also remind some people that the RAF is a deployable fighting force. We would all be wearing the same – and to add a bit of spice we could differentiate between trades by having trade badges on our greens (a bit like the RAF Regiment do with their “mud-guards”).

I see the need for the Blue No1’s Dress Uniform. This could be our link to the past – out tradition and our heritage. But modern day operations mean that No2’s are just an anchronism of the past and do little but waste our time and the taxpayers (and we are taxpayers too) money!

So I say for one last time. Let’s get rid of the No2 Working Dress and have all members of the RAF wearing CS95 Greens or the new stuff when that comes in.

(Oh and by the way, do you know why we in the RAF wear the blue that we do? Well, the RAF was of course formed in 1918 from the amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. It needed a Uniform. There was a pre-made uniform available sitting in a warehouse. The Tsar of Russia had ordered a new set of clothing in Russian Blue for his armed forces, but of course the Tzar had been deposed in the Russian Revolution in 1917.

So it made sense to use this set of uniform that was sitting gathering dust for the new service that was the Royal Air Force.)

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One thought on “What to Wear…?

  1. Anonymous on said:

    It could be something to consider in a modern day RAF of 2009 & onwards to rethink the No 2 unform situation. But a point I am sure you are aware of (as you have pointed out your family history in the RAF) is that as late as 1977 there were only one or two (possibly more but low numbers less than 10 units, not counting RAF Regiment) who were issued with DPM combat uniform. TCW and TSW being 2, of which I served with TCW from 77 to 80 at RAF Station Brize Norton. So out of 91 years a good 59 or more Airmen/Airwomen served with just No1 & No2 uniform (excepting Khaki drill for overseas areas). So for a good two thirds of it's history the No2 uniform was not an option but a requirement.

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