Running errands in running shorts is a threat to good order and discipline, the Marine Corps has decided, so it’s letting bases prevent troops from wearing fitness equipment at police stations and exchanges.
The policy change was instituted just over a year after former Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a widely circulated November 2020 memo allowing military and civilian shoppers to wear workout clothes in stores. from the base.
Prior to Esper’s memo, installation commanders across the Army could establish local dress codes, resulting in rules about sports attire in grocery stores and department stores that sometimes varied by region. or even within services.
The rules were sometimes little known or poorly enforced, service members said.
But a few months ago, several Navy commands began issuing rules that contradicted Esper’s military policy.
It turns out that Commanding General David Berger had obtained Secretary of the Navy approval for an exception to this policy in a September memo that has not been widely distributed.
“Because of this exception, the Marine Corps has not permitted service members to wear athletic attire in police stations and exchanges aboard Marine Corps installations,” said Capt. Ryan Bruce, gatekeeper. –Marine Corps spokesman to Stars and Stripes by phone last week.
Esper had given service secretaries permission to grant waivers based on mission requirements and the need to maintain military order.
The reason the Corps was looking for one was that “the wearing of athletic clothing…impairs the high standards of personal appearance and personal conduct which contribute to good order and discipline,” Berger wrote in his application to the Secretary of the Navy.
Bruce emailed a copy of that note to Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.
The commander said the policy exception would authorize local dress codes and allow commanders to update and enforce regulations that require Marines to wear appropriate attire at all times.
The Marine Corps has among the most stringent service-wide rules for civilian dress for its members. For example, it requires them to wear belts if their pants have belt loops, and it limits how much of an undergarment can be exposed.
But the exception Berger received allows for rules that aren’t limited to just Marines, Bruce said.
At several Navy bases in the southwestern United States, all service members and civilians are prohibited from wearing athletic shirts and shorts, swimsuits, and “Spandex-type athletic wear” in stores, according to an order issued by Marine Corps Installations West at Camp Pendleton, Calif. in October.
This allows other facilities on the base to establish dress standards consistent with this policy.
At Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Marine Corps Installations East issued an order a few weeks later prohibiting Marines and sailors from wearing civilian sportswear or fitness uniforms at most base installations.
This goes for the Main Exchange, Quartermaster, Convenience Stores, Base Theater, Golf Course, and Stables. Workout attire is still acceptable for sports facilities, pools, beaches, and the marina.
New signs posted at the exchange at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina now tell service members that sports attire is not appropriate there. The fine print quotes the commander’s note.
“We take pride in our appearance,” reads a banner at the top of the poster.
This story originally appeared on Stars and Stripes.
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