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New York’s State Volunteer Defense Force to Get OCP Uniforms

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justin Reeves adjusts the operational camouflage pattern uniform of Staff Sgt. Kedwin Alvarado-Cortes, April 30, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Justin Reeves adjusts the operational camouflage pattern uniform of Staff Sgt. Kedwin Alvarado-Cortes, April 30, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

The Army, the Air Force and the National Guard soon won't be the only ones sporting the Operational Camouflage Uniform.

A non-Defense Department state volunteer defense force is next in line to get the new camo.

Beginning in March, the New York Guard state defense force will begin transitioning from the digital camouflage Army Combat Uniform to the OCP for practicality, according to a news release.

The volunteer force -- which augments the National Guard -- will switch to the new uniforms because they are more readily available than the older ones, which are no longer being manufactured, the release said. The announcement has since been removed.

Roughly 500 members make up the New York Guard, a spokesman for the New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs told Military.com on Tuesday.

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The members, who may be prior military or retirees, are paid when they're on a state duty assignment, but train on their own. They often act as additional manpower for logistics and command-post duties and are not considered an armed force.

The New York Guard will use the Army's OCP rather than the Air Force's, which has more nuanced patch color schemes, according to the DVIDs release. They will also sport the New York State flag in place of the American flag, which is standard practice, and the New York Guard patch as their unit patch.

"New York Guard members wear a black patrol cap with gold rank for enlisted members and silver rank for officers. The rank structure mirrors that of the Army," the release states. "New York Guard members will wear black name and service tapes with silver lettering."

By moving to the OCP, more uniforms, including cold-weather gear, will be available for the state force. Members can wear their old uniforms for up to three more years until the OCP is transitioned in, the release said.

There are 22 state defense forces across the U.S., and each operates differently, a Guard spokesperson said.

The decision to switch to the OCP is up to each state.

"Each state force or volunteer force falls under the command of its respective adjutant general and governor," said Capt. Alicia Lacy, a National Guard Bureau spokeswoman, said in an email Tuesday. "As such, their uniform policies are all unique to each state/territory."

The organization traces its roots back to the early 1900s, when they were known as "Home Guards."

During World War I, Congress authorized some states to equip and activate their "Home Guards" as more and more soldiers deployed overseas.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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