On June 16, 2016 a pilot program was introduced at Fort Hood to gather feedback from soldiers. The program, performed during the hot summer months, was to determine how soldiers felt about rolling their sleeves up when performing work functions in the hot environment. Seemingly unimportant to the layman, this question matters to soldiers in the Army since we are the only service that does not allow members to roll their sleeves.
Each component of the Armed Forces has its own distinct wear and appearance guidelines for the uniform. As separate branches, this is to be expected, and it is not always necessary to compare and contrast to draw criticisms in regards to these decisions. In the past few years, since the transition from the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) to the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), the concept of sleeve rolling was frowned upon as demonstrating poor discipline.
Comments such as this are indicative of the changing opinions and sweeping generalizations which the senior-most officer and enlisted positions are capable of making. From the introduction of the black beret to the entire Army, to the determination that tattoos must be individually chronicled and documented, these sweeping decisions have second and third order effects.
In the case of the rolled sleeve, how is it that the Army would declare that performing this action was prejudicial to good order and discipline, when the Marine Corps is capable of doing it? Are the Marines prejudicial to good order? This statement does not hold water. Other guidance is provided that the sleeves protect the soldier’s arms from the environment and insects. This is definitely accurate, except it would seem that a soldier may be capable of identifying that they need to put on suntan lotion or roll their sleeves down so they do not get a sun burn. A more appropriate statement is that the Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) does not like how it looks. In 2014, the SMA informed a crowded auditorium of soldiers that the Army will not follow the Marine Corps example and allow the rolling of sleeves, now or in the future.
Today things are different. Most notably, there is a different SMA in the role and his name is Dailey. His actions have been tempered by seeking feedback from service members prior to giving his input. In the case of the 10-day pilot program in Fort Hood, he actively sought the responses from the soldiers, and decided that, when performed appropriately, it is perfectly acceptable.
Times have changed. It is now authorized to roll sleeves again within the Army. Changes to AR 670-1 will likely soon follow and it is apparent that the pilot program was a success for many reasons. Beyond the outcome, the fact that the SMA sought and received feedback from service members and demonstrated a willingness to listen is perhaps the underlying success of the entire process.
Some things take years to solve, some only a moment. A SMA that looks, thinks, listens, and performs is the epitome of the Be-Know-Do concept and an incredible asset to the Army as a whole.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.