New policy bars Marines from wearing utility uniform off base
By JEFF SCHOGOL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 28, 2007
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — The Marine Corps has eliminated exceptions that allowed Marines to wear their utility uniforms off base.
Under the Corps’ new policy, Marines cannot get out of their vehicles off base if they are wearing their camouflage uniforms except in “bona fide emergencies,” a recent message from Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway says.
Such emergencies include car crashes, vehicle breakdowns and medical emergencies.
That means Marines can no longer wear their utility uniforms when they are off base and decide to pick up their kids from day care, run to the drug store or get gas, said Mary Boyt, of the Marine Corps Uniform Board.
But Marines can still go through drive-thru restaurants and dry cleaners while in their utility uniforms, as long as they don’t get out of their vehicles, Boyt said.
She said the changes primarily affect Marines who commute to work.
The new policy also gives Marines some leeway. For example, Marines can make rest stops when driving tactical vehicles over a long distance to a training area, she said.
“Those stops should be short and essential,” Boyt said.
But under the new policy, running low on gas is not considered an emergency, so Marines cannot get out of their car to fill up unless they run out of gas, she said.
Her advice to Marines on this matter: “Don’t run out of gas. Plan accordingly.”
Boyt also advised Marines to have a spare set of clothes in their vehicles.
“When in doubt, do not exit your vehicle off base until you get home,” Boyt said, adding that a hotel room is considered home when Marines are on travel.
The move is meant to standardize uniform regulations, which had varied from base to base until the new policy was issued Wednesday, said Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, a spokesman for the commandant.
Johnson said the new policy provides “clear-cut guidance” for Marines on when they can wear their utility uniform.
“If you’re off base, out of our vehicle, in cammies, you’re wrong, unless you have a bona fide emergency,” he said.
He said the Marines take pride their uniforms, and wearing the utility uniform off base goes against the Corps’ culture.
“It’s a field uniform,” Johnson said. “It’s not a service uniform. It’s not a dress uniform.”
In another change, the new policy establishes that where the utility uniform is designated as the uniform of the day in garrison by local commanders, the desert camouflage uniform with the sleeves rolled up will be the summer uniform, and the woodland green camouflage uniform with the sleeves down will be the winter uniform.
Local commanders determine the uniform of the day and when or if Marines should switch uniforms with the season, Boyt said.
“If your unit is in the ‘winter season’ year round, then you will not wear the desert uniform,” she said.