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Amos ends ban on KIA bracelets

Oct. 18, 2011 - 12:44PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 18, 2011 - 12:44PM  |  
Gen. Jim Amos says that KIA bracelets are now OK to wear, effective immediately.
Gen. Jim Amos says that KIA bracelets are now OK to wear, effective immediately. ()
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The Marine Corps is ending its controversial ban on bracelets honoring U.S. troops killed in combat, Marine Corps Times has learned.

An announcement from Commandant Gen. Jim Amos will be made Tuesday afternoon authorizing Marines in uniform to wear the so-called KIA bracelets, according to a Marine official at the Pentagon with knowledge of the decision. The policy is effective immediately, the official said.

As Marine Corps Times">first reported in a cover story last week, commands across the service had begun cracking down on Marines who wear the bracelets, which until now were considered unauthorized jewelry under the service's stringent uniform regulations. Enforcement, however, was spotty and the uproar from Marines of all ranks was extremely vocal.

Amos was swayed, in part, after a recommendation was made to him last week during a meeting of the service's senior general officers, the Marine official said. A visit Monday to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., apparently sealed the deal.

There, Amos and his top enlisted adviser, Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett, welcomed home members of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan's northern Helmand province. The infantry unit saw intense combat in the Upper Gereshk Valley and Nahr-e Saraj district, areas just south of volatile Sangin district. Five members of the battalion died as a result of the violence there.

While at Twentynine Palms for 3/4's homecoming, the commandant observed several Marines wearing KIA bracelets. He inquired about their significance and received "positive feedback," the Marine official said.

KIA bracelets worn by Marines vary in design. Some are made of rubber, but most are metal. They're nearly identical to bracelets commemorating prisoners of war and troops missing in action. POW/MIA bracelets have been authorized under the Marine Corps' uniform regulations dating to the Vietnam War. More than 82,000 U.S. troops are still unaccounted for going back to World War II.

Unlike past conflicts, however, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have not produced such staggering numbers of POW and MIA cases. Today, there are just two U.S. troops listed as missing or captured in action in Afghanistan or Iraq: Army Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie and Army Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl.

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