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NEWS | June 24, 2024

‘More than a uniform,’ C&T provides first Space Force physical training uniform

By Mikia Muhammad DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

New Space Force physical training gear is now available at Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores across the country to support nearly 1,000 Guardians.

The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Clothing and Textiles supply chain in Philadelphia helped procure this first official uniform for the Space Force, with years in the making.

 “It’s been constant collaboration for the last seven years,” said David James, C&T customer operations cell chief for Air Force and Space Force clothing.

The Space Force PT uniform is based on the latest Air Force PT uniform design, with an initial Air Force request for updated uniforms in 2017 to evolving Space Force requirements.

More than 100 Guardian recruits also received the first Space Force physical training uniforms in March at Joint Base San-Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

“This is more than a uniform rollout, this is the first finalized service-specific uniform that Guardians can wear with pride,” Space Force Director of Staff Maj. Gen. Steven Whitney said.

The objective is to outfit approximately 8,600 Guardians, James said.

There are 10 unique items consisting of gender-specific all-purpose trunks, running trunks, t-shirts, PT jackets and pants. The items have moisture-wicking fabric for faster drying time, antimicrobial properties, and reflective technology.  

To complete this mission, there was extensive internal coordination with C&T contracting, planning, customer operations and technical quality teams.

“As ‘Customer Ops,’ my job is to collaborate with the team here at DLA to make sure that we’re all on the same page trying to line up our requirements with what’s going to be in production and what we can offer to the customer when we need to,” James said.

The C&T contracting team navigated manufacturer challenges typical when introducing new items to the supply chain, like fabric shading, by communicating almost daily with suppliers, said Arlett R. Hartie, integrated support team chief of the accessories and physical training gear team in the Field Clothing Division.

“In general, with [uniform] rollouts, one of the challenges we face is we have a small industrial base and they’re committed to buying things in accordance with the Berry Amendment and Buy American Act, and they’re using vendors in the United States,” Hartie said. “So, we don’t have a whole lot of those, so we’re always working with a small industrial base and what their capabilities are; and trying to plan out ahead of time for that.”

Specific to the Space Force PT uniform, the complexity of introducing female sizing posed a challenge as the previous Air Force PT uniform was unisex and only included four items, James said. The new Air Force and Space Force PT uniforms include 10 items.

“That adds more contracting work, more production lines to our already fragile industry base,” James said. “Anytime you rollout something new, for the reasons Arlett articulated, there are going to be challenges.”

As the military’s newest service, Space Force’s size also posed some manufacturing challenges, said Tom Zassick, C&T planning supervisor for recruit clothing.

“It’s such a relatively small force, so getting fabric from our suppliers was a challenge,” Zassick said. “When they’re looking at runs, to run the fabric at smaller quantities, the larger the quantity, the more attractive it is to our vendors.”

To navigate this challenge, the C&T team looked at ways manufacturers could produce the Air Force and Space Force PT uniforms together and run larger production lots, Hartie said.

“The contracting teams here at Troop Support along with our vendors are 100 percent committed to getting the Space Force the PT items and other new items that they need for this new service,” Arlett said.

To ensure manufacturers make the quantities the customer needs, when they need it, the C&T materiel planning team aligned data from the Space Force’s initial requirement with manufacturers’ production to forecast what will sustain customer needs on a monthly basis, said Said Jirau, a material planner on C&T’s accessories team.

“Based on that initial intel or information, we created a supply plan to procure the items and support the customer needs,” Jirau said. “In the meantime, before the actual initial day of supply, we conduct conference calls with the customer on a regular basis to clarify issues, provide updates, etc. Internally we also conduct meetings to track contracting or production issues, vendor's deliveries, etc.”