Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sailors blast wear rules for blue cammies

Below is my submission for a Navy Times op-ed ("BackTalk"), I have done a number of these in the past few years (both before and after I left active duty). It's a bit strongly worded, but the rules regarding the NWU prompted my "can't suffer idiots" gene to become dominant.

As a civilian now, I can officially (and legally) say this and not get into hot water with my Chief of the Boat…so here goes.

The Navy leadership is certifiably Stupid. Yes, that was a capital “S”. It was intentional.

I refer to the recent rules laid out for the new Navy Working Uniform. I remember the restrictions placed on dungarees way back when, and how we looked forward to the (current) utilities when they were new in the late 1990’s. The idea then was the utilities were supposed to be acceptable for off-base wear, at least for routine things like stopping at the bank, the DMV, the grocery, or to pick up one’s kids at school. And it worked…somewhat. The restrictions loosened to a fairly reasonable degree (though not near the degree other services had). Don’t get me wrong, the restrictions were still a bit silly given that we are all adults, but they weren’t overboard.

Now the Navy is returning to the realm of sheer idiocy with the rules for the NWU. For a uniform that is in cut/design nearly identical to uniforms worn by the Air Force and Army, the rules on where they are worn will herald a return to the situations that I found myself in back in Hawaii in the 1990’s.

I had a problem with the local DMV in Hawaii…they never sent the renewal for my car in the mail, forcing me into an in-person visit to register my car with the military exemption. Not a huge deal, I would just swing by the DMV satellite office after I went on liberty one day, on my way home. If I were lucky, the Chief would actually cut me loose early that day by a half hour or so, too. However, since the DMV satellite office was in the local mall, I had to stop by crews berthing first to change into civilian clothes. Again, not a real problem, though I caught flack for obviously going on liberty early (in civvies) as I left the boat (yes, boat…I’m a submariner). But imagine the irony as I stood in the DMV line, ahead of me an Airman in cammies from Hickam, behind me a Soldier in cammies from Tripler AMC, and in the next line a Chief in khaki. Of the four of us, the only one not in uniform…me, the Navy “blueshirt”. Once in the long line I got into a conversation with an Air Force buddy (in cammies), a neighbor who wondered just why it was I had to change. I think my overheard reply annoyed the Chief near us, as I explained, “the Navy is embarrassed at our working uniforms, and doesn’t trust it’s enlisted personnel to wear them right”. Oddly, he didn’t dispute my take on the situation…I don’t think he could.

The newest rules further that attitude…enlisted personnel are children, and cannot be treated as adults by letting them (GASP) wear a working uniform off base. Good grief, imagine if they wore something DIRTY? Or in POOR REPAIR?

I won’t get into the pros and cons of the new uniforms…that’s another discussion entirely. But to the leadership of the Navy, I’d say this…start treating enlisted personnel like adults, and stop making stupid rules that even your Chiefs admit are nearly impossible to enforce. As a service we should be proud of our uniforms…aside from being a uniform, they are a symbol of our service and sacrifice, and something that in one form or another have been worn by honorable, courageous, and committed Sailors for over two centuries. When they are worn properly, they do us credit. When worn improperly, well, that’s part of the job of the Chiefs, officers, and senior enlisted to correct, and if they do their job right they do us all credit, too.

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Crossposted at The Online Magazine Formerly Known As Rob's Blog


At 9:58 PM, Blogger soldier fun said...

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At 9:23 AM, Blogger Bubblehead said...

Good comments. Hope it gets published.

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Jason William said...

wise words Rob, good stuff indeed. I have dealt with the same thing..



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