Outfitting the Sailor of the future took another step forward last week when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen approved plans for a single working uniform for all ranks and a year-round service uniform for E-6 and below Sailors.
Based on recommendations made during a comprehensive briefing by Task Force Uniform Feb. 24, Mullen agreed to production of both a BDU-style working uniform for all Sailors E-1 to O-10 and a more practical, year-round service uniform to withstand day-to-day classroom and office-like environments where the service uniform is typically worn.
These are good uniforms, designed to support the modern Sailor, said Mullen. Durability, safety, ease of wear and cleaning were all factors that weighed heavily on my mind, as did, quite frankly, the survey data and the opinions of wear testers. This wasnt a popularity contest by any stretch, but we would have been foolish not to consider the opinions of the men and women who will wear these uniforms.
The BDU-style working uniform, designed to replace seven different styles of current working uniforms, is made of a near maintenance-free permanent press 50/50 nylon and cotton blend. Worn with a blue cotton t-shirt, it will include an eight-point cover, a black web belt with closed buckle, and black smooth leather boots, with black suede no-shine boots for optional wear while assigned to non-shipboard commands.
When I walk down the piers, I see a Sailors standing watch as a pier sentry in January and it's 30 degrees and freezing rain, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/AW) Terry Scott said. You have to ask yourself, does the uniform that we currently issue protect us, and the answer is no.
To meet the all-weather requirement, the new working uniform will include several cold weather options, such as a unisex pullover sweater, a fleece jacket, and a parka. It will also be made in three variants, all in a multi-color digital print pattern: predominately blue, with some gray, for the majority of Sailors and shipboard use; and a woodland digital pattern and a desert digital pattern for Sailors serving in units requiring those types of uniforms.
The intent of TFU always has been to give our Sailors a uniform in which they can work comfortably everyday and is more appropriate for the joint environment in which we operate, Scott said. Even better, weve created a uniform thats also easier to maintain, is longer lasting, helps reduce the size of the sea bag, while at the same time recognizing the tradition and heritage of serving in the Navy.
The service uniform for E-6 and below is comprised of a short-sleeve khaki shirt for males and an over-blouse for females, made from a wash and wear 75/25 polyester and wool blend, with permanent military creases, black trousers for males with belt less slacks for females and optional belt less skirt, and a black unisex garrison cap. Silver anodized-metal rank insignia will be worn on shirt/blouse collars and cap. The service uniform will also include a black relaxed-fit Eisenhower-style jacket with a knit stand-up collar and epaulets, on which petty officers will wear large, silver anodized-metal rank insignia. Those entitled to wear gold chevrons will continue to wear gold chevrons on the large metal rank insignia on the jacket.
In our research, we found the group most dissatisfied with their present uniforms were E-6 and below, Scott said.
The manner of wear for both of these new uniforms remains under development by TFU and will not be effective until guidelines on prescribed wear are incorporated in the Navy Uniform Regulations.
There are a lot of concerns about the manner of wear for the working and service uniforms that we need to address, so we have a smooth transition when the time comes, TFU Director CNO-Directed Command Master Chief Robert Carroll said.
The working uniform and service uniform are not expected to be available for purchase and wear until late fall of 2007, after which they will be introduced to Recruit Training Command and eventually distributed to the rest of the fleet. Details on when the uniforms will be available for purchase and wear at specific geographic locations will be released at a future date.
Until the new uniforms are available for wear, all existing uniform regulations will apply. During the expected two-year transition period, Sailors will be required to maintain a complete inventory of sea bag items with each reflecting a professional appearance.
We want our Sailors to keep a professional appearance, Carroll said. We dont want people wearing worn-out uniforms because theyre waiting for the new ones to hit the shelves.