The Marine Corps Uniform Board will soon meet to consider changes to female uniforms, newer high-tech PT gear and the guidelines for appropriate wear of Marine Corps Emblems.
"Uniform Board #205 deals with a variety of issues, from recommendations from the Women's Uniform Symposium to clothing prototypes developed by Marine Corps Systems Command," said Capt. Dan Dukes, secretary-recorder for the Marine Corps Uniform Board. "Individual Marines should ask their chains of command for how they can provide input to the issues."
Wear of the Marine Corps Emblem
In the past, as a general policy, items that cannot be worn by civilians cannot be worn by Marines as civilian attire. Some uniform components are authorized that do not have any type of insignia that are military in nature, such as the tanker jacket without insignia or the crew neck service sweater.
"The recent trend has been to distinguish new uniform items with our emblem to make them distinctly Marine," said Dukes. "As this trend continues. Marines may become confused as to what can and cannot be worn with civilian attire."
Commercial use of the Marine Corps emblem is extensive and is often confused with its use as branch of service insignia. Commercial manufacturers and retailers may make non-uniform items with the Marine Corps emblem, and any civilian, let alone any Marine, may wear these commercial items.
"The Uniform Board is hoping to provide guidance for the new utility uniform and any future uniform items so that Marine will know what is appropriate for wear," said Dukes.
Changes to female uniforms
Several suggestions are being presented on the board to alter different female uniforms and eliminate others that were not being worn.
The 1998 Sergeants Major Symposium suggested that the female blue dress coat should more closely resemble the male coat with extended red piping and wear of the white belt. The board produced several prototypes that were worn by female Marines, with and without the white belt, to functions in the Washington Metro area requiring the wear of the dress blue uniform. Additionally, a prototype jacket was presented to the SNCO Academy at Quantico for comments and recommendations, and to the Women's Uniform Symposium held Sept. 9-12 at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
Based from feedback of these different forums, the recommendation was presented to not change the female blue dress coat from its present state.
Another recommendation that came out of the Women's Uniform Symposium was to eliminate the maternity jumper from the authorized list.
"The feeling from the female Marines was that they felt the jumper is not being worn anyway," said Dukes.
The maternity tunic that is now being used will be the sole authorized uniform item that will be worn with the service uniform if the recommendation is taken by the board.
The final female uniform item that will go before the board will be a possible change to the female evening dress shirt. The symposium held in September reviewed the current evening dress shirt and deemed it to be very unflattering and old-fashion in style. The recommendation to the board will be to adopt a new shirt that is pleated, similar to the male evening dress shirt.
New high-tech PT uniform
The last two items to be considered will be changes to the Marine Corps' standard PT uniform to take advantage of new technologies and improve safety and performance.
The first items is a recommendation to replace the current uniform with a coyote-brown undershirt in both short and long sleeves, and black nylon shorts with reflective striping. The new gear will use proven off-the-shelf technology that will wick moisture away from the body for quick drying and longer wear.
A more significant change may come in the cold weather PT uniform by replacing the current sweatshirt and pants with a windbreaker-style jacket and pants.
The new uniform would provide wind and water resistance while the lining would provide comfort, moisture management, and anti-microbial, bacterial and odor prevention features.
The jacket is designed to provide versatility to adapt to a range of environmental conditions. Comfort with increased activity will be maintained via venting from front zipper, pit zip and vented back. Raglan sleeves and jacket fullness are provided for maximum range of motion and to accept undergarment layers without hindering mobility. A roll away fitted hood is provided for protecting the head in colder environments. The jacket provides 360-degree reflective feature to eliminate the need for a separate reflective belt.
The jacket is made from soft, supple material that provides no noise when moving, is lightweight and durable to washing. The Marine Corps emblem would be embroidered on the left breast, which under current policy would prevent its wear with civilian attire.
The bottom of each leg on the pants has a zipper opening to remove pant without removing shoes.
Any new uniform items that are adopted by the board will be phased in over several years with recruits and officer candidates receiving the new items in their initial issue by October of 2003. During the transition, Marines would receive money to pay for the items from their annual clothing allowance. Officers, as with all their other uniform items, would have to pay out of pocket.
All of the above uniform items are currently being reviewed by commands throughout the Marine Corps so that the Marine Corps Uniform Board will be able to consider comments on the issues for its December meeting. The board will make formal recommendations on the issues and then forward them to the Commandant for final decisions.