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Posted: 8/31/2004 9:56:30 PM EDT
Issue Date: September 06, 2004

New uniform regs
Proposed changes loosen restrictions, reflect new technologies

By Matt Hilburn
Times staff writer

The Navy is poised to loosen and update some uniform regulations to reflect changing times and sailor’s desires.

The changes being considered are a direct result of last year’s Web-based uniform survey in which 43,000 sailors sounded off on what they liked and didn’t like about their uniforms and the Navy’s rules for wearing them.

The proposed changes — which are expected to become official within days or weeks — were outlined in an e-mail sent by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry D. Scott to command master chiefs around the fleet soliciting their comments. Navy Times obtained a copy of that e-mail.

If approved, some of the changes could take effect immediately, or as soon as Oct. 1.

A spokeswoman for Scott had no official comment on the proposed changes.

“That e-mail that’s been floating around is [a] pre-decisional document that CMCs were given to provide feedback to [Task Force Uniform],” said Chief Journalist Lisa Mikoliczyk. “The final NavAdmin is currently being reviewed.”

What’s likely to happen:

• Bags and backpacks worn on the shoulder.

You can soon give your left hand a rest. The new regs allow sailors to carry gym bags, backpacks, computer bags and briefcases strapped over the left shoulder while in service or working uniforms. Current rules require sailors to carry them in their left hand only. In addition, a backpack could be worn over both shoulders when sailors are in the working uniform. The proposal states that all bags must conceal their contents and be either black or navy blue. No ornamentation on the bags would be allowed, but manufacturer’s logos, providing they are small and do not distract from the uniform, would be permitted. Any bag used while a sailor is in dress uniform would still have to be hand carried. This would be effective upon the release of the NavAdmin.

• Civilian-style purses.

Women will no longer be forced to buy and carry purses sold in Navy uniform stores. So long as the civilian purse meets certain standards, female sailors can buy and carry whatever they please. Rules require them to be plain black, brown or white natural grain leather or synthetic leather, and rectangular in shape. Dimensions would have to be 7½ to 12 inches in width, 5½ to 8 inches in height and 2 to 3½ inches deep. No visible ornamentation, decorative stitching, large embossed designs, or a large manufacturer’s logo would be allowed. The closure would have to be brass-plated or gold-colored. A purse flap closure would have to be a clasp, with no buckles, zippers or string ties, and the strap would have to be of the same material as the purse. This would be effective upon release of the NavAdmin.

• Cell phones, PDAs allowed.

It’s been 10 years since the last guidance was given regarding wearing pagers, and the technological times have certainly changed. The new regs spell out when and where sailors can wear pagers, cell phones, personal digital assistants, or PDAs, and Blackberrys while in uniform. These devices could be worn by sailors and officers in uniform, but only one at a time and only if they are issued for official business. For the working and service uniforms, the device could be worn on the belt on either side but behind the elbow so as not to be visible from the front. For service dress uniforms and above, the devices should not be visible or cause protrusions or bulges and should not interfere with the proper rendering of military courtesies and honors. The use of hands-free devices would be required when entering, departing and while driving on military and government installations.

• Skirts are optional.

No longer would a skirt be a required uniform item for female sailors for both service and dress uniforms. This would be effective Oct. 1.

• New CMC pins.

Big changes could be in store for the Command Master Chief insignia. The regular-size insignia, which is now worn on the left shirt pocket on all uniforms except the formal and dinner dress uniforms, will only be used with the full dress uniform. The Navy is now considering having sailors qualified to wear the CMC insignia to don a miniature version of the device one-quarter inch above the right shirt pocket, the same location as an officer’s Command at Sea insignia. As with the Command at Sea insignia, the CMC insignia would be worn on the left side post tour.

• No more mismatched breast insignias.

Both shiny and matted breast insignias would be allowed, but if multiple insignias are worn, they would have to be of the same finish.

While Mikoliczyk could not say when the new regulations would receive final approval, she left open the possibility of further modifications.

“There’s no way to tell about changes,” she said. “There may be some modifications.”

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