October 12, 2006:
Sometimes, changing uniforms, to "improve" them, doesn't work. And then the troops agitate for a return to the old styles. The U.S. Air Force recently acknowledged some of this. Two reversions were made. The first is a return to senior NCOs (E-7 to E-9) wearing their stripes on their arms, and not on shoulder boards. In 1982, the senior NCOs began to wear miniature versions of their stripes on shoulder boards, as a way to distinguish them from lesser NCOs. But a generation of senior NCOs has yearned to get their stripes back on their arms, where they belong. The second reversion has to do with the "U.S." symbol worn on enlisted uniforms. From 1918 to the 1990s, the "U.S." was within a white circle. In the 1990s the white border was removed. The troops want to go back to the old form, and the brass are accommodating them. The old ways may not always be the best, but they are often the most comfortable.