The Army has decided soldiers assigned to the Pentagon no longer need to wear combat uniforms as a reminder that the nation is at war.
“I don’t know that we have to wear a specific uniform to remind us that our soldiers are deployed to war and are dying and being wounded on a daily basis,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III told reporters during a telephone media roundtable Monday afternoon.
The Army expects that by October, soldiers assigned the Pentagon will report to work in the more formal Army service uniform rather than the digital-patterned Army combat uniform, Chandler said.
Soldiers at the Pentagon wore battle fatigues after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to make sure they were in a mindset for war, according to Chandler. “The intent was to get people to realize that we’re in combat,” he said. “After seven years, everyone understands that we are at war, and that soldiers are dying and being wounded, and families are suffering.”
The Army’s decision last week to replace black berets as the standard headgear worn with the Army combat uniform has been well-received and was based on “overwhelming response from the Army in the field,” Chandler said.
The message, Chandler said, is “Hey - we don’t want to wear the beret - that was universal in its communication to me.” said Chandler.
Chandler said the Army will wait until October to implement the dress change at the Pentagon to give troops time to adjust their uniforms. “If you’re going to wear it day in and day out, you probably need more than one pair of pants,” he said.
The changes in uniform have been the subject of a “good, candid conversation” with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, Army Secretary John McHugh and other Army officials,” Chandler said, adding that some were opposed to changing the dress requirement at the Pentagon.
“This is an emotional issue for people,” he said. “This is the symbol of professional arms.”