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Wool seminar to better relations with biggest customer
19
Sep '09
Members of the Air Force Uniform Office here attended the American Wool Council's Wool Education Seminar, July 20-23, in Salt Lake City, Utah, for an opportunity to learn about and see the latest in wool production and developments.

According to the American Sheep Industry Association, or ASI, the U.S. Military is the largest consumer of American wool, and the purpose of the wool seminar was to develop relationships between the military and the wool industry.

During the wool seminar, members of the wool industry briefed military and garment manufacturers on the latest advancements, attributes and morphology (the study of the form and structure) of wool. Attendees were given a better understanding of why wool is durable, stain repellent, easy to alter, and most importantly inherently fire resistant.

"Meeting with the folks who provide the very fabrics we make our uniforms from is a valuable opportunity," said Maj. Jason Hale, Deputy Chief Aircrew Operations, 648th Aeronautical Systems Squadron, Brooks City Base, Texas. "We were able to strengthen our relationships with industry and better communicate Air Force needs."

The Air Force is currently researching a flame resistant uniform capability that natural wool can provide. When exposed to flame, wool chars instead of melting. According to Dr. Parvez Mehta of the American Wool Council, wool is a great protectorate since it decomposes and chars at high temperatures. When exposed to high heat, wool yellows in color at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and chars at 570 degrees. "Wool fibers are self-extinguishing, when subjected to flame because of its high moisture and nitrogen content."

Not only does wool resist flame, according to the ASI, it also resists wrinkles, soiling, repels moisture, is durable, retains its shape, and is comfortable in all seasons. Wool absorbs perspiration, so it keeps a layer of dry air against the skin that helps to hold in body heat in cold temperatures, and to cool in warmer temperatures.

The AFUO is currently researching and developing fire-resistant clothing, using wool as a primary fiber. In keeping true to the Berry Amendment, all wool used by the Air Force is produced and manufactured in the U.S.

"We are looking into the possibility of using wool for fire resistant clothing to protect our airmen in hostile environments," said 1st Lt. Veronica Dawson, Deputy Program Manager, Fire Resistant Air Force Equipment, 648th AESS, Brooks City Base, Texas. "The Wool Seminar gave us an opportunity to see wool in all its stages and understand more about what could make it a great fiber for our products."

The AFUO is currently researching many different fiber options for fire resistant clothing, and continues to work joint initiatives with sister services.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

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