Major changes for Marine Corps uniforms are in the pipeline.
Switching to “bravos” or “charlies” as the uniform of the day and doing away with desert camouflage utility uniforms are two proposals currently on the table, based in part on a survey of Marines conducted over the summer by the Marine Corps Uniform Board.
Marine Corps officials declined to comment on the results, as final decisions are still pending, but Marines’ input will be taken into account, according to board manager Mary Boyt.
“The survey results will be briefed at the formal Uniform Board meeting during the deliberation phase of the process and will be briefed to the commandant and his staff in conjunction with the formal Uniform Board recommendation on the issues,” she said at the time.
On Dec. 14, the board also released details of its most recent uniform meeting, authorizing the wear of lock and twist hairstyles for women and clarifying sleeve-rolling regulations for desert MARPAT cammies, inserting the requirement that the rolls must be “snug to the arm.”
Two potential changes were disapproved by the commandant, according to Marine administrative message 622/15, including wearing the Sam Browne Belt for officers and an issued first set of woodland cammies that require wearing brushed brass pin-on enlisted ranks.
The uniform survey, which concluded Aug. 9, asked Marines to vote on three potential uniform changes: adopting a new seasonal uniform policy, removing desert cammies from the required gear list and adopting a new dress blue coat for women.
There are three recommendations being considered for seasonal uniform changes.
The first is giving force-level commanders authority to make the call on which uniform of the day their Marines should wear based on the climate in their area of operation.
Current policy dictates that Marines across the globe are on the same uniform cycle: desert cammies for the spring and summer and woodlands over fall and winter.
But a second option is to take combat utility uniforms out of the required seasonal rotation altogether, delegating the decision of which uniform to wear to local commanders based on climate and training requirements.
Going this route would allow Marines aboard Twentynine Palms, California, to wear desert cammies year-round, while those stationed in Okinawa, Japan, could be in woodlands all year, for example.
The final recommendation is to scrap combat utility uniforms as the uniform of the day in favor of the service uniform.
“Bravos” or “charlies” would become the universal daily uniform, versus the weekly “service uniform Fridays” Marines currently enjoy.
Cammies would still be worn in the field, during training, on deployments or any work environment detrimental to the formal uniform.
The second major uniform change being considered is whether to get rid of the desert MARPAT uniform as a minimum sea bag requirement.
The switch would mean a return to a requirement for four woodland uniforms, resulting in a standardized uniform and financial savings for the Corps.
In 2006, Marines began deploying to combat zones wearing flame resistant gear instead of the desert cammies in order to mitigate the threat from improvised explosive devices. For Marines who still require desert pattern uniforms, there are enough of these to go around for the immediate future.
The last issue Marines voted on was changing the women’s dress blue coat, with the options of keeping the current design, switching to a new unisex design or wearing the new design only for special assignments.
The new design is almost identical to the current dress blue coat worn by men, including a high mandarin collar but lacking breast and hip pockets.
It follows two years of research into a redesign, including a tour of Marine Corps bases over the past year by Marine Corps Systems Command to exhibit potential designs and solicit feedback from women.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has also called for a gender-neutral, “iconic” uniform for Marines.
In a speech at the Naval Academy in May, he touted his initiative to issue common uniform items across the Navy and Marine Corps as important to cohesion and morale.
“We are not trying to make women look like men, but make everybody look like a U.S. sailor or Marine,” Mabus said during a question-and-answer session following his speech.