For Marines, New Fashion In Order

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Boston Globe
October 20, 2007 Crackdown, revamped code transform look
By Chelsea J. Carter, Associated Press
OCEANSIDE, Calif. - The Marine Corps is taking on the role of fashion police.
Earlier this year, the Marine Corps commandant updated the regulations on what Marines can and cannot wear, on duty and off, in the United States. Among the fashion don'ts: No shiny metal or gems on your teeth, no designs carved in your hair, no flashy jewelry, and no bare midriffs or excessive cleavage.
But it is General James T. Conway's ban on the wearing of camouflage uniforms, or "cammies," off base that is getting the most attention, changing not only the appearance of the Marines, but also the look of their communities.
Under the new regulation, Marines in camouflage cannot get out of their vehicles to run an errand or grab a meal on their way to or from the base. No pumping gas, running into the post office, or picking up a cup of coffee, either.
Although Marines were always largely prohibited from wearing uniforms off base, they were allowed to make brief stops during their commutes. Now they can stop only for a medical emergency, a traffic accident, or a breakdown.
Around Oceanside, a community about 35 miles north of San Diego where Marines from neighboring Camp Pendleton are a common sight, the most noticeable effect is at fast-food drive-thrus. Long lines are forming because Marines in uniform are not allowed to get out of their cars and go inside.
John Alexander, who works at GI Joe's, a military surplus store, said customers don't drop in during the middle of the day anymore, though business picks up in the late afternoon.
"There's no such thing as a quick trip anymore," he said.
Navy Senior Chief David Matthews, 39, said the scene is the same in Jacksonville, N.C., outside Camp Lejeune.
Matthews said some Marines and Navy personnel have come up with creative ways to run errands during duty hours.
"They get a buddy who has civilian clothes on to go with them. They drive and wait while their buddy gets out of the car and runs the errand," he said.
Marines caught in uniform off base can get a warning; for repeat offenses, they can be restricted to their barracks and their pay can be docked.
The military has always had strict guidelines for what service members can wear, even out of uniform, but Conway said the updated regulations are about maintaining Marine "uniformity and pride in appearance."
"It wasn't that Marines were blatantly breaking the rules. It was more of a tradition, and we just needed to get it back in the box, put it in writing, and say here's the policy, here's the rules," said Staff Sergeant Jesse Lora, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton.
Earlier this year, the Marines banned extra-large tattoos below the elbow or the knee, saying such body art is harmful to the Corps' spit-and-polish image.
Some businesses are getting creative to cope with the no-cammies-off-base rule, which was issued in July.
In Oceanside, Colimas Mexican Restaurant, popular for its takeout lunch, now runs a sort of carhop service for Marines, who call in their orders and then wait in their cars for delivery out front.