Sky's out, thighs out.
The Air Force may allow plane mechanics to wear shorts at some of the more humid bases across the country, including Joint Base Charleston. But the design of the shorts, a style less like "Top Gun" and more like middle-aged Dad at a neighborhood cookout, have caused airmen to remain cool to the change.
Last month, at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, Chief Master Sgt. Brent Salvadori suggested that maintenance airmen on the runway should wear shorts whenever temperatures exceed 80 degrees outside.
“When asked the question, ‘Should I?,’ my response is simple, ‘It’s what my Airmen want, and this is what Chiefs do',” Salvadori said in a press release. “We make things happen for our Airmen. This is who we are, and this is what we do.”
Salvadori said the idea originated from a unit deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in southwest Asia. The service members were permitted to wear shorts while there and, upon their return, he tried to find a way to integrate them at home station.
But the reaction was mixed. A photo of the blue shorts, complete with several large cargo pockets and a black canvas belt, was followed by hundreds of snarky comments on the unofficial Facebook page "Air Force amn/nco/snco." The page is known for posting memes and jokes related to the branch.
"Goes great with sandals and tall socks," Wesley Wright posted.
"See you guys at the grill come Father's Day. Champ," added Darren Pennington.
The idea of the shorts was floated at several bases with record-high temperatures, including Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, and Beale and Edwards Air Force Bases in California.
At Charleston Air Force Base, where the heat index can reach 100 degrees in the summer, the possible change caused a stir.
"A lot of guys are chuckling, for sure," said 1st Lt. Colin Laskodi, a C-17 pilot. "But I know there's a very good amount of guys who'd be down for it. It's really hot and humid here and it would provide some relief."
While Joint Base Charleston said their command has "no immediate plans to implement" the shorts on the flight line, it doesn't mean it couldn't happen in the future. The base is currently making sure there won't be hazards or risks with issuing the shorts.
“We are aware that other installations have implemented such policies and intend to review them for applicability," Joint Base Charleston spokesman 2nd Lt. Samuel Swanson said. "As with any policy change, safety will be a major consideration and will guide our decision as we weigh both the pros and cons of any proposal.”
The discussion about shorts comes as the Air Force makes a variety of uniform changes to reflect the military's changing recruits. At the end of last month, the Air Force Uniform Office began surveying female airmen to workshop maternity uniform items for pregnant service members.
Heat stroke has been a major concern in the U.S. military in recent years. In 2008, 1,766 cases of heat stroke or heat exhaustion were seen among active-duty service members, according to a report by the Military Health System. By 2018, that figure had climbed to 2,792, an increase of almost 60 percent over 10 years.