THE United States chief of naval operations, Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost, has just struck a blow for common sense. He has authorized the carrying of umbrellas by Navy men in uniform. It's an issue that's been debated nearly 20 years, but the admiral evidently feels that umbrellas put neither national security nor the Navy's image at risk. Bully for him.
Hitherto, only the Air Force allowed its men to carry umbrellas, although all the services have long allowed women to do so.
The Army considered the issue two years ago, when a recommendation went to Army Secretary John O. Marsh and Gen. John A. Wickham Jr., then Army chief of staff, to permit bumbershoots. The two blocked the recommendation and vowed that no soldier would carry such a device while they remained in office. General Wickham has retired, but Mr. Marsh remains at his post.
There are, of course, regulations governing the Navy's bold new departure. The approved naval umbrella is to be black - not, as you might imagine, navy blue. It is to be carried in the left hand, to prevent interference with saluting; and is not to be used in formation, or used as a walking stick.
We feel more secure already knowing we have a Navy with enough sense, if not to come in out of the rain, at least to raise an umbrella against it.