All Army National Guard and Reserve members are now just a few clicks away from buying the Operational Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniform and its accessories — at least temporarily, according to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES).
AAFES had set up a temporary arrangement to allow all Guard and Reserve members to buy the OCPs online at ShopMyExchange.com. Until now, Army Guard and Reserve personnel could only buy uniforms at brick-and-mortar military clothing stores, and there are restrictions on who can buy them and when.
The Army is in transition to the OCP uniform, with all soldiers required to have them by October 2019.
Under Army regulation and the direction of the Army Clothing Services Office, only Guard and Reserve officers, or enlisted on active duty under Title 10 or Title 32 orders can buy uniforms in stores. And since the exchange online store’s system currently can’t identify a shopper’s rank or active-duty status, the online store didn’t sell uniforms to Guard and Reserve members, in order to comply with the regulation, said AAFES spokesman Conner Hammett.
That restriction is still in place for AAFES brick-and-mortar clothing stores. Enlisted Guard and Reserve members should show their orders verifying their status to purchase uniforms in stores.
But with this temporary exception, all Army Guard and Reserve members can buy uniforms at ShopMyExchange.com, regardless of rank or active-duty status. The exception allows AAFES “to bring the convenience of online uniform shopping to these service members as it works with the [Army Clothing Services Office] to identify a more permanent solution that complies with all Army uniform regulations," Hammett said.
The online exchange site automatically determines what military clothing items a service member is authorized to buy, based on branch of service, but beyond that, it can’t identify rank or active-duty status, Hammett said.
The Air Force is adopting the Army’s OCP uniform, and ShopMyExchange.com will start selling the uniform online to Air Force personnel – including Air Guard and Reserve – in October 2019, by Air Force regulation, Hammett said.
A few AAFES brick-and-mortar stores on Air Force bases will start selling the OCPs starting this October, and the sales will gradually roll out to other stores.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.