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Marines: Recruiters will always be in uniform when on duty

Marine officials say only a small number of recruiters were told to temporarily switch out of their uniforms following last week's attack on two military facilities in Tennessee, despite reports from the Pentagon that all were told to don civilian clothing.

All Marine recruiters are back in uniform following the deadly shootings at a recruiting office and Navy Reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, said Maj. Garron Garn, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command. Immediately following the July 16 attack that left four Marines and a sailor dead, Garn said Marines in the vicinity were told to close two small recruiting offices, change into civilian clothes and head home. But there was no wider push to have all Marine recruiters ditch their uniforms, he said.

On Saturday, a defense official told Military Times that Marine recruiters had been were told not to wear their uniforms, but it turned out that information was a miscommunication between the Defense Department and Marine Corps Recruiting Command. The decision was not Corps-wide and Marines at one recruiting station were told not to wear their uniforms, and it was a temporary measure, the official clarified on Thursday.

Marine Corps Recruiting Command issued a statement on its website this week to clarify what officials there called erroneous reports attributed to command leadership.

"At no time was there an order or directive for Marines to remove their uniform," it states. "...The Marines of MCRC will always be in uniform when on duty."

All Marine Corps recruiting offices have now been reopened, Garn said. The recruiters who work in the building that was attacked are working out of another location until their office is repaired, he said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter told each of the military services to examine additional force protection measures at recruiting offices. They are expected to provide him with the details on those measures by Friday.

Garn said MCRC has reviewed and made necessary adjustments to force protection conditions and are looking at other long-term measures that will balance the need for security while making recruiting offices accessible. 

"We can't recruit from behind fences or locked inside offices; therefore, we will make every effort to remain engaged with local communities through our outreach efforts," he said.

Garn declined to discuss specific measures the command was taking to upgrade security at recruiting facilities, but said they'll be "designed to improve the stand-off time and distance for our recruiters during an active shooter incident."

Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, commandant-selectee, told members of Congress on Thursday that the service was planning to install stronger or less transparent glass at recruiting offices.

Staff writer Jeff Schogol contributed to this report.

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