I've bitched about ACUs before (a lot). I was looking for evidence of it on the blog but I guess I've mostly just subjected my girlfriend and coworkers to my tirades. (Note to self: get life.) Seriously though, are we just now reaching the conclusion that it's effing stupid to wear a combat uniform to a meeting with foreign dignitaries? Or even just around a conference table where you're joined by a bunch of DoD civilians and contractors in suits and ties? Like that revelation just came as a bolt from the blue??
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has told his military aides not to wear combat fatigues to work at the Pentagon anymore, reversing a symbolic change of protocol ordered in the harrowing days after the Sept. 11 attacks.
There was no formal announcement about Mr. Gates directing his military staff to shed their fatigues in favor of business uniforms — the smartly pressed ones bedecked with combat medals and service ribbons that are the military equivalent of a civilian coat and tie, worn with dress shoes and not combat boots.
But throughout the Defense Department, where every action by the civilian boss is parsed by officers with a care akin to old-school Kremlinology, Mr. Gates’s decision is likely to prompt deliberations across the armed services on whether to have personnel working in the Pentagon follow his example.
The defense secretary’s instructions took effect with the start of the new year and were directed at only some of the 23,000 employees at the Pentagon. Even so, the change has been noticed by recent visitors to Mr. Gates’s third-floor suite of offices and has become a topic of conversation along the Pentagon’s 17.5 miles of corridors.
Anyway, I haven't personally noticed a trickle-down effect just yet -- the halls are still filled with ACU-clad field-grades and Air Force dudes in their six or seven different "combat uniforms" -- but I have all my appendages crossed that everyone else will get the message. As for now, this bodes well, as it does every time the Department takes a step away from stupid.