Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The 'Monica' is gone. Sorta.

The U.S. Army has finally done away with the wearing of the black beret. Sorta.

It will still be worn with the dress uniform, but since "Class B's" are effectively dead and we dress the guys driving desks and flying spreadsheets at Fort Benjamin Harrison here in Indianapolis in the same warfighting "Army Combat Uniform" worn by Ranger patrols in the Hindu Kush, the odds of you ever seeing a soldier wearing one anymore are vanishingly small.

(H/T to Jim Rawles at SurvivalBlog.)


IZinterrogator said...

The Rangers in the Hindu Kush get Multicam, so you can tell the difference there. :)

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Unless you live or work near the Pentagon. They're transitioning back to dress uniforms. After all, as Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler says, that's "the corporate part of the Army" (and does anyone else see a problem with that attitude?).

My opinion (FWIW)? Outside of combat zones, field exercises, or "dirty" jobs, the dress uniform should be the normal uniform, with specific exceptions made when appropriate. ACU's (or the equivalent for each branch) should not be worn off base except for those who are authorized to wear them on base and commute.

You know, the way it used to be. Back when you would see a soldier off base and he or she looked professional rather than tactical.

Fatigues are for combat, combat training, and getting dirty.

rickn8or said...

Jake, it's no more ridiculous than wearing a flight suit while sitting in a building in Florida controlling drones in Afghanistan.

Tam said...

Insert "Navy Working Uniform" jokes here:

"Man overboard!"
"Where? He must be camouflaged!"

Boat Guy said...

One travesty reversed after "only" a decade.
As to whether the "NWU" or pogues wearing bags ought to be next, I'd prefer not be working around people who remind me of the MUP. My frequent comment to my NWU-wearing colleagues is "The only tihng you lack is a Kalashnikov and a nine-year-old girl's head to complete the ensemble."

Bubblehead Les. said...

'Bout time! I thought the next step was that they'd keep the berets, but they'd be in U.N. Baby Blue.

R.E. the Patrol Cap: wonder if the are going to allow the Winter Cap with the Earflaps? And I wonder what the Status of the Boonie Cap is?

And as for what Boat Guy said, he forgot to mention the Horizontal Striped T-Shirt so popular among the Soviet, er Russian Bloc. I'm sure the SeaBees LOVE wearing Dark Blue out in the Field when it's a 100 degrees in the shade.

Henry Blowfly said...

I think the Sergeant Major of the Army speaks with great common sense.

A Unit's uniform standard, on and off base, speaks volumes to both military and civilian observers.

global village idiot said...

Boonie hat is allowed downrange.

As for me and my "kids," we're pleasantly surprised by the move. Didn't think SMA Chandler could deliver, or so quickly.

The kids slagged the beret pretty mercilessly. My first duty station was the 82nd so berets always seemed normal for me (the color didn't but that's another story). But the point is valid. It's an impractical hat.

Then again, so was the Garrison Cap, as ugly and pointless a bit of headgear as ever there was. I'm told the Garrison Cap (I'll refrain from using its nickname here - it's quite indecent) isn't even being issued to new Soldiers anymore. Just as well because I'd thrown mine away years ago.


Marcus said...

The "bus driver hat" is still authorized for wear with Class B's and the ASU--so my beret will getting torched at soonest opportunity. I will never wear that piece of crap again.

Stretch said...

Campaign hats!
That's what they need. Campaign hats.
And kepis in appropriate branch colors.
And we'll civilize them with our Kraigs!


Huh? What? Twenty-first Century? When did that happen?

Bram said...

I hated the beret!

Yeah - the Army really got carried away letting soldiers wear BDU's everywhere.

The Marine Corps kept their clothing standards a lot tighter. If you aren't in the field, deployed, or working on equipment - it's at least Class C's. And you NEVER (except deployments)traveled in utes.

Drang said...

RE: Naval Working Uniform: I was twitting my wife's cousin, the CPO, about blue camo for squids, and she pointed out that the purpose wasn't to prevent Popeye from being seen, it was to hide the paint and oil stains that inevitably mar a Navy working uniform.
Army already DX'd Greens; the new Army Service Dress uniform is Blue, with a white shirt.
RE: Class Bs. The Army should go back to khakis for a working uniform.
RE: Wearing a pretty uniform in garrison:
I'd like to have Two Armies: One for display with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, staffs, distinguished and doddering Generals, and dear little Regimental officers who would be deeply concerned over their General's bowel movements or their Colonel's piles, an Army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country.

The other would be the Real One, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage uniforms, who would not be put on display, but from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the Army in which I should like to fight.

~Jean Larte Guy~
Soldier & Writer
RIP 23 FEB 2011

Boat Guy said...

Actually Les, the Bees still "get" to wear woodland or desert cammies; the MUP uniform is only for the Fleet types and the pogues (Intel weenies, Chops etc).
If the NWU had pin-on devices instead of sewn-on flair there MIGHT be some utility for shipboard security forces topside, but still...
Oh and SpecWar of course wears pretty much any cammies that aren't this blue travesty - when they wear uniforms at all. PT gear's usually good for at least four hours after the morning workout

Crotalus (Dont Tread on Me) said...

I'm glad they're getting rid of them, because they always make me think of Che Guevarra, and so I always associate them with Communism and its supporters.

docjim505 said...

I think that this is one of the most unanimous comment threads I've ever seen on this or any other blog! Man, I thought I hated Shinseki's Black Beanie...

I also agree with the commenters who state that the ACU (fatigues) should be a field / utility uniform, and only troops who have a reasonable expectation of getting dirty during their duty day ought to be authorized to wear it. Otherwise, the Army ought to get a Class B uniform that is reasonably comfortable to wear and DOESN'T make the wearer look like some cheap-sh*t mall rentacop. I have a fondness for the World War II-era uniform, though the old TW's also looked pretty good.

Matthew said...

Garrison uniforms should be the uniform of the day in garrison (with exceptions for certain dirty jobs) and off-base.

Cammies should mean you're about to be uncomfortably cold or hot, probably at least damp, and short on sleep, chow and water.

Blues should mean cigars and bourbon are inbound, lots and lots of bourbon.

Kind of a mindset trigger.

IZinterrogator said...

@Jake: The dress uniform is unbearable to work in. I was afraid I was going to sweat through my jacket during my grandmother's funeral.

@Bubblehead Les: The ACU patrol cap comes in only one flavor, summer. No ear flaps to fold down.

@Marcus: You will during the next change of command ceremony. I wouldn't torch it just yet.

@Drang: The idea of the ASU was one dress uniform. Separate khakis would cost them more to issue and us joes more in upkeep.

Boris da Bastid said...

As a current Army recruiter, and as someone who has worn the beret in garrison my entire short 7 year career, I am damn glad we finally got rid of the daily wear of that silly hat. At one point while I was stationed in Germany, I had my beret on my head, my patrol cap in one cargo pocket, and my fleece beanie in the other. You know, so when I go to the motor pool, I have my PC and when I'm training my soldiers in the winter, I have my warm dome. Feh. I can't believe it took this long and a new SMA to affect the change.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

@ IZinterrogator: Chalk my imprecision up to being a civilian who isn't up on the current terminology. By "dress" uniform I mean whatever it's called now that has as its foundation slacks and a button-up, collared shirt, with all the variations stemming from that base.

Jacket/no jacket, tie/no tie, long/short sleeves would all be determined based on weather and the needs of the day - so in hot weather you would be in a short-sleeve dress shirt with no tie (which, in a properly done military uniform, still looks pretty sharp and professional), and in cool weather you would wear a jacket and tie.

Steve Skubinna said...

Drang, I heard that "hide the paint splatters" justification and it's BS. Seriously, who designs a uniform so you can get it grubby and not have to replace it? That sounds like the kind of justification sailors work up to justify/explain/mock a stupid policy.

Anyway, for dirty work, that's why God gave us coveralls.

No, the real reason for the useless Navy camo pattern is all the other services have their own and the Navy didn't want to be left out.

Roberta X said...

....And Tam, there's no Ft. Ben no more; all that's left is the Finance Center and a State Park (sadly, without a shooting range, though you can still see where it was).

Drang said...

Izzy the Interogator said that Separate khakis would cost them more to issue and us joes more in upkeep.
Puh-lease. A set of khakis would cost less than one of the fancy new PT uniforms.

I always figured we should have kept the old "pickle suits" for lower enlisted and junior NCOs for garrison, and put senior NCOs and ossifers in khakis, and issued BDUs at CIF.

global village idiot said...

All of y'all banging on about "we ought to wear THIS uniform in THIS situation and THAT uniform in THAT situation ought to follow a Soldier throughout his day.

I'll take my own Soldiers as an example. We're 42A, Human Resource Specialists - desk jockeys. We're also Reservists, but that's not germane to the discussion. Our training day is about as long as a typical Active Duty Soldier's when he's in garrison, as it is when we go to "the field" (24hrs), and when we deploy. The only real difference is that we have 45 days to achieve the same training and readiness standards the Active Duty have 260 to meet. My Soldiers' time is therefore my most precious and finite resource.

This Saturday, we take an APFT in the morning. After this, our vehicles get PMCS-ed (the motor pool Soldiers do not do this for us) and perform such maintenance as is found to be necessary. In our unit, as in most units in the Army, the operator does everything he can, leaving the more difficult (though no more messy) jobs to the mechanics. Unlike the mechanics, the operator is not authorized coveralls. In the afternoon it's training in the office.

If we were to take leave of our senses and listen to you superannuated old fossils, we'd carry three different uniforms to drill in the morning and spend time changing into each.

I ask you - is the training and work time wasted doing costume changes worth your tax dollars, just so you can see us be all pretty and spiffy when you think we ought to be?

Class Bs/As for garrison duty were on the way out when I was on Active Duty, which was in the late 1980s. This does not include TRADOC posts which are nothing but dog-and-pony shows, or hospital or recruiting duty, as well as the Pentagon. I refer here specifically to Permanent Party posts.

When I was in the 82nd (HSB 2/319 AFAR), they put a high premium on the Class A uniform. We'd wear it once a month at our end-of-month "Payday" formation. This does not include such events as promotion/Soldier-of-the-month boards.

After I left the 82nd in 1989, I wore the Class A uniform once in the two years I had remaining on Active Duty. Granted, I was Combat Arms at the time (Field Artillery) and never a Recruiter, but no one else was wearing their Class As or Bs either unless he or she was a recruiter or worked at the hospital.

That was 24 years ago - a generation.

So I have to ask myself, for those of you who think we should revert to some time where we all wore As or Bs unless we were in the field - how freaking far in the WABAC machine do you ossified old antiques expect us to go, and for what identifiable purpose?!

I've got approximately 10 hours per training day to ensure my 21 Reserve Soldiers are as ready for deployment as I possibly can, and no more than 45 training days per year. Despite the "desk jockey" nature of our job, this deployment business is a high priority - our unit has sent detachments on 9 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003, and detachments 10 and 11 are due to ship out this year.

I have a big problem with wasted training/work time, so I encourage/challenge all you "Back In My Day" old relics to explain to me how turning my Soldiers into clothes horses contributes to their readiness and ability to do their missions on deployment.

Really, SGT Bilko, let it go. Y'all looked great back in the day, and I'm glad you were there - thank you for ensuring we didn't have to learn Russian unless we wanted to. But you'll have to share your stories of how you blinded the East German border guards with your spit-shined boots, and how you accidentally severed your buddy's artery with the crease of your Class A trousers, for your friends at the Legion hall.


Tam said...


"All of y'all banging on about "we ought to wear THIS uniform in THIS situation and THAT uniform in THAT situation ought to follow a Soldier throughout his day."

A shocking number of the people you're addressing actually are soldiers.

(Except for the ones who are Marines and therefore actually wear Class C's when not rolling in the mud.)

Tam said...

Okay, that was unfair.

Let me go back to the rules at the military college I attended: Even those days when the Uniform-Of-The-Day was BDU's, if you were leaving campus and interacting with townies, you put on greens.

If your training day is going to be entirely on base, whether it involves typing forms or changing the oil in Humvees or both, then go 'head and wear ACUs. Or blues. Or go buck nekkid. It doesn't matter.

But if you're going to be out amongst the American people, then goddam show some esprit de frickin' corps instead of dressing like the guy in the third panel from the left on page 27 of the last Sgt. Rock comic I read.

Drang said...

GVI: Lighten up, Francis. ;-)

Anyway. Who was the Russian general that got a "law" of military history/science named after him, to the effect that the side with the prettiest uniforms loses?

global village idiot said...

We're rather more in agreement than disagreement, I think.

I will admit to bristling somewhat when I see Soldiers in ACUs at public ceremonies. I have a friend - a Recruiting Station Commander - who sent me a photo of himself and some stock-car racer at the Daytona 500. He was in ACUs. Looked out of place.

ACUs at funerals are quite out of place as well, and I've seen a few of those.

When you were in college and I was in Active Duty, it was standard for Soldiers to travel, when they were doing so officially (i.e., not on leave) in Class As. Around about the time I transfered out of the 82nd, however, the policy was changed and Soldiers were encouraged to travel in civilian clothing, so as to stand out less to hijackers (so the thinking went).

The current operations now find Soldiers traveling a lot when in uniform. Those traveling from leave land in Atlanta in ACUs because no one brings his Class As to theater with him. Those such as we Reservists who travel to pre-mobilization training do so in civilians or ACUs, again because we're not going to pack a Class A uniform for travel or have a place to keep it clean and separate once we arrive at the training site.

The kids in my platoon have their drills at a Reserve Center that boasts no mess facility and meals aren't catered. They eat at a nearby Golden Corral. Again, the Uniform of the Day is ACUs. No one is going to waste their time obliging them to change just for lunch.

It used to be the case, when I was on Active Duty, that those times Soldiers will interact with - or even be seen by - the public were relatively few. Recruiting, public ceremonies, the rare funeral. Occasions where we'd accidentally come in contact, such as while performing our daily routines, were rarer yet. Now, those times seem far more frequent and while there is little excuse for not dressing the part in a public ceremony, "accidental" contact with Soldiers in fatigues is unavoidable.

The thing you're seeing - the increasingly infrequent use of the Class A and B uniforms - I think springs not only from the increase in this "accidental" contact, but also from the general trend in America towards dressing-down. On any given Sunday, for example, I can count on one hand the number of men in my church wearing jacket and tie. I've been to Masonic funerals where some of the mourners were in sneaks and t-shirts.

You may not have noticed this, but the restriction on tattoos and where they can be visible has been relaxed considerably as well, and not just by custom but by official policy. I find this to be more scandalous than the lack of Class A/B wear.

I'll make you a bargain. I'll try to talk my kids into wearing their Class As more frequently (we haven't been issued the ASU yet) if you can talk the men from my church into wearing something more formal than a polo shirt to Easter service.


Tam said...


"I'll make you a bargain. I'll try to talk my kids into wearing their Class As more frequently (we haven't been issued the ASU yet) if you can talk the men from my church into wearing something more formal than a polo shirt to Easter service."

Wait'll you hear Shootin' Buddy's rant on grown men wearing sandals or flip-flops in public. ;)

Thrown into full reminiscence mode last night, I seem to recollect that the Dairy Queen, Hardee's, and convenience store directly across the street from campus were considered "on campus" as far as uniform regs went. It's been twenty-mumble years, though, so I might be misremembering... :)

LM said...

gvi, I'm with you.

A's and the new ASU are nice, but hot and impractical for anything other than formal occasions.

B's look like crap.

ACU's also look like crap, but are at least mostly practical.

I recently returned from a 2 week Army school which had no on base dining facility, so we were instructed to live off the surrounding economy. This school involved long days of laying out in the range in 100 degree heat, followed by the return to open bay barracks, with 3 shower heads for approx. 30 students. Also no laundry facilities.

Change into a dress uniform to go out to Taco Bell? I think not. Dirty uniform or sorta clean civvies is as good as its going to get.

More and more military courses are following this trend, its easier to pay the soldier a few extra bucks per diem than to provide a dining facility. It is less convenient and time consuming for the soldier, but who cares?

Dress uniforms for off-base wear are a fine idea when soldiers rarely are required to leave base, but in this modern army there is more and more dependence on the surrounding economy for things such as food, laundry, banking, mail, etc.

Another issue with dress uniforms in this modern army is the fact that any soldier with a deployment under his or her belt gets so many "been there" medals and badges that they look like a South American dictator in their greens.

Maintaining all the ribbons, devices, badges, and insignia that are required for the modern dress uniform is becoming onerous, and daily wear would only further exacerbate that problem.