Uniform Wear Policies Vary Among Military Services
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2013 Goodbye casual Fridays, at least for the Marine Corps.
Effective today, all nondeployed Marines and sailors assigned to Marine units are required to wear the appropriate seasonal service uniform.
Except in cases where commanders allow exceptions based on operational requirements, active- as well as reserve-component Marines will show up for duty every Friday wearing service uniforms.
The change comes from a directive Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos issued in November. The designated uniform worn from November to March will be the Service B “Bravos” and from April to October, the Service C “Charlies” will be worn, the directive specified.
“Unlike the utility uniform, the service uniforms are form fitting, and this characteristic provides leaders with an opportunity to frequently evaluate the personal appearance of their Marines without inducing a work stoppage,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Michael E. Sprague, senior enlisted advisor for Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve.
“Watching Marines square their gig line away and adjust their uniform is indicative of the ‘spit and polish’ pride we seem to have strayed from,” he said.
The new Marine policy came just after the Air Force rescinded its “Blues Monday” policy that had required most airmen to wear the blue uniform every Monday. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III announced in November that he was eliminating the service-wide policy, giving commanders authority to designate uniform wear.
Welsh’s decision overturned one former Air Force Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz had instituted in 2008 as a partial return to pre-9/11 uniform practices. Airmen had been wearing camouflage uniforms at the time, but Schwartz said he believed that “part of our image, culture and professionalism is instilled in our blues.”
Neither the Army nor Navy have servicewide requirements regarding wear of service uniforms, spokespeople for both services confirmed. Wear of uniform decisions are made by commanders or, in the Navy, by designated uniform prescribing authorities who issue uniform policy within their geographic regions.
However, Frank Shirer from the Army Center of Military History recalls a day when all soldiers were required to wear their service green uniforms -- and undergo an inspection -- when they reported to receive their pay. That requirement and the so-called “pay-day inspections” were discontinued during the 1970s as the Army began making direct deposits through electronic banking, Shirer said.
(Editor’s Note: Marine Corps Cpl. Nana Dannsa-Appiah contributed to this article.)