The U.S. military has a long and storied love affair with acronyms, and the U.S. Army’s new mask maintains that tradition with style. The new Combat Cloth Face Covering, or CCFC for short, may be tougher to say than “mask,” but it will dramatically reduce the force’s reliance on disposable masks, as well as allowing for a return to uniformity during duty hours.
Nonetheless, some have already poked a bit of good-natured fun at the Army’s choice of names.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Army’s mask policy has allowed for some degree of variety in the materials and colors used. To be within regulations, Soldiers need only to use solid colors with no pattern or language on the mask, gator, or bandana in use. The current Army guidance on mask use is as follows:
“SOLDIERS WILL NOT WEAR MASKS THAT HAVE PRINTED WORDING, PROFANITY, RACIST, DEMEANING OR DEROGATORY LOGOS, SCRIPT OR IMAGERY. SOLDIERS MUST NOT ATTEMPT TO CUT UP CLOTHING MATERIALS SUCH AS ARMY COMBAT UNIFORMS TO USE FOR FACE MASKS AS THESE MAY HAVE BEEN TREATED WITH CHEMICALS. IF AVAILABLE, CLOTH COLORS SHOULD BE SUBDUED AND CONFORM TO THE UNIFORM.”U.S. Army face covering guidance
Anyone who’s ever spent time in uniform knew to expect a standard-issue mask to come down the pipeline sooner or later. Military branches maintain uniform conformity for a number of practical reasons, but the rapid spread of the coronavirus made enforcing that conformity near impossible, as mask mandates reached the U.S. population both in and out of uniform.
2020 may feel as though it’s lasted for years, but it’s actually a minor miracle that a standard-issue mask has already made its way into the Army’s plans. Uniform changes of this sort usually take between 18 and 24 months to go from directive to issue. The Army’s new CCFC mask, on the other hand, took less than a year to push through the layers of logistical consideration and bureaucratic red tape. Now, the Army intends to begin rolling out these new masks as early as April of 2021.
New Soldiers will be given two masks as a part of their initial uniform issue, while other Soldiers will be able to purchase them in the exchange. It is unclear exactly when existing mask guidance will be phased out in favor of making the CCFC the only authorized mask for wear during duty hours.
“At the 152nd AUB, Army officials said that the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) will begin issuing two CCFCs to each new Soldier during the second quarter of FY2021. The CCFCs will likely be available for purchase at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) uniform stores later in FY2021.”