While Though three out of five female Marines surveyed supported the Corps' move to adopt a unisex-style dress blue coat, one group was less enthusiastic about the gender-neutral look: women serving as field grade or staff noncommissioned officers. 

A new female dress blue coat was one of the the biggest changes news that came coming out of the Marine Corps' most recent uniform board survey. About but it was far from the most important issue for Marines. In fact, half of the 1,323 women who participated in last year’s Uniform Board 216 survey didn’t even cast a vote on the issue. Only 3,650 Marines weighed in on the proposed change to the service's iconic dress uniform, which proved more popular with younger Marines, according to survey results provided to Marine Corps Times. 

The majority of male and female respondents — about 55 percent — favored Opinions on changes to the female dress blues varied. The majority of respondents (56 percent of 3,650 votes) replacing women's classic dress blue coat with a unisex prototype tested over the past 18 months. Enlisted women in particular supported the move, with roughly 60 percent of those respondents hoping to get the new coat. 

But the move wasn't quite as popular with majors, lieutenant colonels, colonels or staff NCOs. About half of Marine women in those ranks who completed the survey voted to keep the existing female-style dress coat — with the option of adopting  Though three out of five females wanted the new coat, the one group that did not give majority support was female field grade officers and staff NCOs. 49 percent of those voters said the Corps should keep the current coat, but adopt the unisex-style prototype as a special assignment item to be issued at unit expense. The breakdown is as follows:

That compared to just 28 percent of more junior Marines company grade and NCOs and below who voted for that same option. 

16.3 percent of voters (8 percent of female voters and 18 percent of male voters) wanted to keep the current female coat.

28.3 percent of voters (33 percent of female voters and 27 percent of male voters) wanted to keep the current coat but adopt the prototype as special assignment item to be issued at the unit expense.

55.4 percent of voters (59 percent of female voters and 54 percent of male voters) wanted to replace the female coat with the prototype.

60 percent of enlisted women and 55 percent of female officers favored the new coat, as did 54 percent of enlisted men and 55 percent of male officers.

The new coat was adopted after more than two years of tests and experiments that coincided with the Pentagon's push for gender-neutral physical standards and job opportunities. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus last summer said his goal is a collection of uniforms that "don't divide us as male or female, but rather unite us as sailors or Marines."

While it was one of the most notable uniform changes Marines will face as a result of the survey, it also got the lowest amount of votes. In comparison, nNearly three times the at number of Marines chimed in on four other possible uniform changes items.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller sided with the majority opinion each time, and made the changes official Jan. 8. In addition to the switch to the unisex-style dress coat, the new rules allow commanders to set seasonal uniform policies based on location and mission. Marines voted against a recommendation requiring leathernecks to wear their service uniforms year-round and the idea to eliminate desert Marine pattern camouflage.

Nearly 10,000 Marines weighed in on these changes. Here are the results: Each of the four issues received 9,836 votes. The results, provided to Marine Corps Times, found that

  • 84 percent of Marines wanted force-level commanders to have the authority to adjust seasonal uniform periods based on accommodate climate and mission.
  • 63 percent of Marines wanted to allow more flexibility with the to remove the combat utility uniform from the seasonal uniform policy. The seasonal uniform set in 2008. Though it was meant to bring uniformity to the Corps' look worldwide (everyone wore desert camouflage utilities in the spring and summer, and woodland cammies in the fall and winter),. But Marines soon questioned the wisdom of wearing desert cammies in Okinawa, Japan, or woodland cammies at Twentynine Palms, California.
  • 84 percent of Marines were opposed to a recommendation that would require all Marines wear the service uniform unless they were when not in the field, while training or deployed.
  • 65 percent of Marines were opposed to the elimination of desert MARPAT combat utility uniforms, an idea officials presented as a cost-saving measure.

The new uniform guidance is detailed in New uniform guidance is included in Marine Aadministrative Mmessage 011/16.

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