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NEWS | Oct. 8, 2013

Staying warm while in regulations

By Airman Areca T. Wilson 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As the winter months approach and Service members begin to bundle up, their responsibility to adhere to uniform regulations still remains.

There are many cold-weather clothing combinations for U.S. Army Soldiers and U.S. Air Force Airmen, but due to weather conditions, it can be easy to wear unauthorized items, or don authorized uniform items incorrectly.

"I firmly believe that no [Service member] wakes up in the morning wanting to do something wrong," said Air Force Master Sgt. Donald Allen, 633rd Air Base Wing Command Post superintendent. "Some [Service members] are cold and in the absence of knowledge on cold weather or outerwear guidance, they make a judgment call with an eye toward warmth - not uniform standards."

While some may argue certain regulations, such as zipping a jacket lower than its directed area, are "no big deal," Allen said it is important to follow all of the rules, not just the convenient ones.

"[Service members] need to adhere to standards all year," said Allen. "It's not that wearing uniform items incorrectly will cause a mission failure, but it creates the space to ask the question, 'What other standards can I choose not to follow?'"

U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Daniel Colonmendez, 689th Rapid Port Opening Element detachment first sergeant, agrees that following regulations demonstrates discipline.

"The fact that we have standards shows our discipline and professionalism," said Colonmendez. "[Service members] should adhere to the rules and regulations because that is what sets us apart from everyone else."

Allen said it is crucial Service members look out for each other, regardless of rank, to guarantee all members are presenting a positive military image.

"When addressing a senior-ranking person, it is important to stay in a helping role, not a directive role. Shouting across a parking lot is inappropriate, but discreetly mentioning a wardrobe [discrepancy] is always appreciated," said Allen. "If I am out of uniform, I want to be told so I don't embarrass myself."

Colonmendez also agrees with Allen's point of view.

"On-the-spot corrections are always the best method of correcting someone," said Colonmendez. "No one is above the rules, no matter what rank. Just make sure you do it tactfully and render the proper courtesies."

A good leader not only leads, but also practices what he or she preaches, said Allen. Service members currently in a leadership role should not only ensure their fellow members are well-educated on uniform regulations, but set an example by maintaining the proper military image and bearing.

Allen advises leaders that while it is okay to correct their subordinates, it is better to offer help instead of criticism.

"You don't have to behave as if you're in basic training to correct people," said Allen. "If you give your folks the benefit of doubt and offer to help, they are far more likely to respond. Harsh criticism usually puts someone into a defensive response."

Service members must continue to adhere to and educate themselves on uniform regulations in order to maintain a professional military image while braving the winter months.

For proper guidance on authorized uniform items and proper combinations, refer to Air Force Instruction 36-2903 or U.S. Army Regulation 670-1.