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Thread: Enlisted Dress Uniforms

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    Member SeaLawyer's Avatar
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    Enlisted Dress Uniforms

    I'm all about Navy tradition, heritage, and customs but with all the changes I've seen driven top down this past few years, it makes me wonder why our Enlisted personnel (E-6 and below) still wear the bell-bottom uniform.

    I know I may offend many people with this topic--which is not my intent--but all the recent changes seem to be about functionality and getting with the times. With that, I wonder what functionality this uniform serves this day in age.

    Looking back on my enlisted days, I felt like I was pulling a potato sack over my head and a boy scout with my neckerchief. Likewise, 13 buttons to take a leak is not very feasible or time efficient for that matter. In addition, I always thought it odd and awkward when we had to put leggings on when marching with our military counterparts. Why is that? Perhaps because it looks rather sloppy and stands out in formal marching events.

    I'm extremely proud of my Navy career but ironically, find this to be one of the only dislikes I had and reason I almost didn't join.

    Thoughts????

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    I could go on forever about this. Eleven years active duty in the Navy, and now Air Force Reserve. In my observations while in the Navy, and comparing it to the Air Force - and my readings on similar occurances in civilian occupations (I'll go into this soon) - this actually has a psychological effect on relationships within the organization.

    I got out of the Navy as a First Class, and am now a Technical Sergeant in the Air Force Reserve. There is a WORLD of difference between my relationships with Master Sergeants in the Air Force and my relationshps with Chief Petty Officers while I was in the Navy. In the Air Force, a Master Sergeant is simply someone with one more stripe than me. That's it. My relationshp with an E7 in the Air Force is exactly the same as an E5's relationship with me. In the Navy, however, there's an "us and them" relationship.

    In the civilian occupations, as I mentioned earlier, something similar was found in industries where foremen or other supervisory personnel wore a different colored hardhat than the workerbees. This was in a "Change Management" textbook in a course I was taking for my undergrad. When new management came in and made it so that either everyone wore the same colored hardhat or employees could wear whatever color they wanted, foremen and supervisors got pissed. That different colored hardhat gave them a "psychological power" over their subordinates that neither their title nor their own leadership qualities could.

    I also find that there's almost zero backstabbing in the Air Force among TSgts looking to get promoted to MSgt. In my observation, I'd say it's easier to make E7 in the Air Force than the Navy. Granted, E7's make up the same percentage of the enlisted force in each service and promotion to E7 is at the same rate, BUT... the fact that there's no ugly Sailor-boy uniform to get out of nor is there conferral of god-like status upon promotion to E7 means that Air Force personnel are more content with being an E6 than Navy personnel, or - to put it differently - are less likely to exert the same amount of effort to get promoted to E7. Basically, the Joneses are easier to keep up with - and even get ahead of - in the Air Force. That's what makes promotion easier.

    Admittedly, I think there is a certain appeal to the crackerjacks - but not one that's going to attract the right people. When people see crackerjacks, I think people get the image in their minds of sailors coming to town to party and get drunk and be loud. We've seen enough mid-20th century movies to get that impression. And I think young people who want to do all of that are the people that crackerjacks appeal to.

    I think the Navy would attract higher quality Sailors everyone wore the same uniforms currently worn by E7 and above. I mean... look at the E7 and above dress whites. It's basically the white version the Marine Corps dress blues - considered by most to be US military's most attractive uniform. I mean... imagine the prospect of a young 18 year old Seaman wearing the choker whites right out of boot camp. You get to wear the white version of the Marine Corps dress blues, without having to go through Marine Corps boot camp? Everyone and their brother would be beating down the fucking DOORS to the recruiting office to get into the Navy! Navy recruiters would get trampled to death!

    I'm not saying saying that people don't get drunk and stupid in the other services. Of course they do. But no one looks at the Air Force dress uniform (or the Army's or Marine Corps') and thinks, "Man, I'm gonna out in town in this thing and get fucked up!" That's not what gets factored into anyone's decision to join these services. But in the Navy... it is.

    If the Navy is hell bent on keeping crackerjacks then, in my opinion, it should do what the British Royal Navy does - only keep it for Seamen. THEN you get the uniforms currently worn by E7 and above when you get your crow. Very few things look creepier than a balding man with grey hair and a big gut in crackerjacks.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    I want to add a little something to the "us and them" mindset that I mentioned the Navy uniform situation created. When BRUWIN (a retired Chief Master Sergeant) was here, he mentioned a few times of when he was assigned to a joint command; how he had to have stern talks with Navy Chiefs for how they treated E6 and below Air Force personnel that worked under them. Even though he wasn't in the direct chain of command of these Air Force personnel. Interestingly enough, BRUWIN was emphatic that they weren't being mistreated because they were in the Air Force. They were simply being treated that way because that's how Navy Chiefs are used to treating E6 and below.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Administrator Mjölnir's Avatar
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    I think the junior enlisted uniforms have a certain appeal, tie to Naval heritage etc. that is undeniable.

    I have never worn it but have been told that it is uncomfortable, the button issue was a pain, and I know that the whites get dirty really easy (officer ones do too).

    I agree, there is a weird divide between E1-6 and E7 ... one that I didn't see in the Marines. I don't know if E1-6 wearing the Chief Uniforms / Officer uniforms would really fix that. That was in part one of the intents of the NWU (blue cammies, now green) ... same working uniform for E1-O10. The divide is still there (granted the dress uniforms are different) regardless of what we are wearing to work. I think there are issues with the Mess, was just talking to our CMC about some of them; we aren't fixing that with a new pair of pants and shirt for anyone.

    Also, yeah ... the chokers are sorta the white / Navy version of the Marine dress blues ... chokers look cool ... but having worn the USMC uniform ... I still like that one a lot better.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield ... is between your ears.

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    Administrator Mjölnir's Avatar
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    Moved to the Navy section.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield ... is between your ears.

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    Senior Member Rusty Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mjölnir View Post
    I agree, there is a weird divide between E1-6 and E7 ... one that I didn't see in the Marines. I don't know if E1-6 wearing the Chief Uniforms / Officer uniforms would really fix that. That was in part one of the intents of the NWU (blue cammies, now green) ... same working uniform for E1-O10. The divide is still there (granted the dress uniforms are different) regardless of what we are wearing to work. I think there are issues with the Mess, was just talking to our CMC about some of them; we aren't fixing that with a new pair of pants and shirt for anyone.
    I think that one only needs to look to the Coast Guard to see the changes it could make. The Coast Guard used to wear the same uniforms as the Navy (distinguished by the shield on the sleeve) up until 1973, when they adopted the uniform of the Air Force (at the time) and modified it with gold buttons. I haven't been up close and personal with the Coast Guard enough to make a real observation, but... I HAVE seen Coast Guard Chiefs associating with their E6 and below in ways that you wouldn't see in the Navy.
    "Well... Uber's going to "driverless" cars soon, and their research probably shows that they're a natural fit (when it comes to getting paid for doing nothing)."
    -Rainmaker, referencing black males

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    Administrator Mjölnir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Jones View Post
    I think that one only needs to look to the Coast Guard to see the changes it could make. The Coast Guard used to wear the same uniforms as the Navy (distinguished by the shield on the sleeve) up until 1973, when they adopted the uniform of the Air Force (at the time) and modified it with gold buttons. I haven't been up close and personal with the Coast Guard enough to make a real observation, but... I HAVE seen Coast Guard Chiefs associating with their E6 and below in ways that you wouldn't see in the Navy.
    True, the Coast Guard relationship between senior & junior enlisted is different than in the Navy. Same for comparing the USMC, USAF and Army to the Navy. I don't see that as a consequence of the uniform as much as what the SNCO's, USCG CPO's etc. regard their role as in their service, their own service traditions and leadership styles etc.

    The Navy has cultivated a cult of personality around the Mess for a long, long time ... before they wore officer style uniforms.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield ... is between your ears.

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    Member SeaLawyer's Avatar
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    Rusty,

    I can certainly understand your perspective.

    Having been a Chief myself prior to commissioning, I can honestly say: I was a bit let down by what I experienced in the Chief's mess. Indeed, I do believe there is a moderate camaraderie gap between the Navy senior and junior enlisted; however, this can be attributed to the significance of the promotion itself... i.e. uniform change.

    Likewise, some of the Chiefs I didn't care for impressed me behind closed doors; meanwhile, some of those that impressed me were a let down when I got to know the true person. My biggest complaint was the individuals that made Chief and though they had become God's gift to the Navy and a "fountain of wisdom" bestowed upon them with their anchors. I earned a bachelor and master's degree while on active duty and it was frowned upon by fellow Chiefs that I was "selfish" to think about myself. Ironically, I am doing quite well in the civilian world while these same schmucks are living in trailers and working blue-collar jobs. I've personally seen the hiring of a couple worthy Chiefs while the others--I wouldn't piss down their throats if their guts were on fire.

    In short, it's not a blanket statement to categorize all CPO's as a conglomerate cluster of contentious chumps but to reflect on each one individually that shaped you for the better.

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