A spokesman for the panel clarified that the new uniforms would not include a literal veil. Rather, at least initially, the female cadets would be provided with a simple scarf which is to be wrapped over the head so as to completely cover the hair and tucked neatly under the chin. Fully redesigned uniforms based on what is known as the hijab style are expected in time for the coming Spring term.
"We are not talking burqas here," the spokesman insisted. "We are simply talking about a more generously cut uniform than is currently issued. And of course the head scarf."
"The current uniforms are very tailored," noted panel member Lt. General Richard Lyle, "and that can be needlessly flattering on a young lady of 18 or 19."
"Look," the General continued, "lady pilots are here to stay, and we all recognize that. But we also recognize that it is very hard for a young man to take his colleague, or more importantly his commander, seriously when he's looking over his shoulder every time she walks away."
Indicating that a number of panel members had been influenced by service in Riyad, the General observed, "Over there we make the gals cover up in public situations all the time. Also, we don't let them drive. And frankly, I think we all appreciate the resulting atmosphere."
While the Air Force Academy has long been seen as woman unfriendly, in recent years a number of criminal rape allegations have been pursued by local Boulder authorities against male cadets following Academy inaction. The current panel was convened by the Air Force to address these issues in the wake of widespread public outcry. The panel has suggested in previous reports and comments that 'fraternization' between male and female cadets in classroom and living situations is largely to blame for the Academy's problems.
A report released with the panel's statement of the new policy indicated that the group believes that the new uniforms coupled with an end to co-ed housing as well as the addition of what the report describes as 'modesty screens' to classrooms, will lead to a significant reduction in student rapes over the coming year.