By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, September 16, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — For the first time since the 1990s, all enlisted Marines will be required to have dress blue uniforms by Oct. 1, 2011.
Enlisted Marines have not been required to own the dress blues since 1993, when the Corps stopped issuing an allowance for the uniforms as a way to cut costs, said Mary Boyt of the uniform board.
For years, the only enlisted Marines required to have the Corps’ signature uniform were those on special duty, such as drill instructors, recruiters and members of color guards and funeral details, Boyt said. The Corps had continued issuing enlisted personnel the dress blue pants/skirts and covers, but that stopped about two years ago.
“It was found once the coat was removed Marines just didn’t wear the [dress blue] uniform anymore and it was no longer worth keeping in the seabag,” Boyt said.
Now all Marine recruits will be issued the dress blues during boot camp as of October, a recent Corps-wide message says. All other active-duty enlisted Marines will receive an increase in their clothing replacement allowance that spreads out the cost of buying the uniforms over the next four years, Boyt said.
Drilling reservists, including Individual Marine Augments, will also be issued the uniform, she said.
After Gen. James Conway became Corps commandant, he decided all Marines have earned the right to wear the dress blues and “shouldn’t have to cough up extra coin” to buy the uniform, said Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, spokesman for the commandant.
“From a recruiting standpoint, feedback from [Marine Corps Recruiting Command] indicates that making it part of the initial uniform issue will appeal to the young man or woman who we typically attract: The ones who are acting more on intangible reasons to serve, not necessarily for college money or a high-tech skill,” Johnson said.
Conway felt it is a “tragic irony” that some Marines’ funerals mark the first time they are dressed in the uniforms, so he decided to make sure the uniform was issued to recruits again, Johnson said.
Go to Marine Corps Administrative Message 504/07 at: www.usmc.mil for more information.