Marines: 'Sleeves up' policy returns. Why?

Marines: 'Sleeves up' uniform policy finally returns on March 9. The new sleeves up policy applies only to summer camouflage Marine uniforms. Time to show off your guns?

The Marines will soon get the right to bare arms again.

Since 2011, "Jarheads" have been under orders to keep their sleeves rolled down (and arm tats covered). This week, the order was rescinded.

US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and Sgt. Major Micheal Barrett announced that the Corps will allow sleeves up on summer desert camouflage dress utilities in noncombat areas, starting March 9.  For the Marines it's not just a fashion statement or even about staying cool. It has to do with tradition and distinction.

“As we have traveled throughout our Corps, many of you have let us know how important your identity as a Marine is to you and the Marines you lead.I can’t tell you how many times we have been asked the persistent question, ‘Commandant, are we ever going to return to SLEEVES UP?” the Facebook announcement states. “I’ve thought a lot about this over the past 2.5 years; I realize that it’s important to you. Sleeves up clearly and visually sets us apart.”

The official order reinstating sleeves up, is here.

Stars and Stripes celebrated the change with the headline: "Sun's out, guns out."

"The roar of approval from across the Corps has been deafening,"  Lt. Col. David Nevers, a Marines spokesman told The Wall Street Journal. "In the four years since we began using social media we haven't seen any post generate such an overwhelmingly positive reaction."

The Marine Corps Times reported that the original change was made by the Marine Corps Uniform Board in 2011, over the objections of Marines surveyed about the issue, who voted with a 61 percent majority to keep their rolled-up sleeves.

In documents describing the board’s reasoning, board members said the decision would promote uniformity in the ranks and help the Marines to “train as you fight,” since they wore their sleeves long downrange.

The documents also indicated that the Uniform Board assumed that opposition to the change would fade over time.

As popular as the decision may be, the new uniform policy may create some fresh tension over tattoos. Last fall, the Pentagon issued a new body art standard: No ink above the neck, or below the elbows or knees. And soldiers will be responsible for paying for the removal of any tattoos that violate the new regulations.

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