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Marine Corps Ditches Desert Camouflage for Seasonal Uniforms

  • Recruits grab their woodland utilities uniform aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., on May 17, 2016. Lance Cpl. Erick J. ClarosVillalta/Marine Corps Recruits grab their woodland utilities uniform aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., on May 17, 2016. Lance Cpl. Erick J. ClarosVillalta/Marine Corps
  • The Woodland Marine Pattern (MARPAT) Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) with the sleeves rolled up. Cpl. Adam Korolev/Marine Corps The Woodland Marine Pattern (MARPAT) Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) with the sleeves rolled up. Cpl. Adam Korolev/Marine Corps

Marines will wear woodland green year-round, effective immediately, according to a new directive from the commandant of the Marine Corps.

The change was quietly announced Dec. 8 through an all-Marine Corps bulletin, signed by Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

Previously, Marines would alternate between tan-and-brown desert camouflage in the summer and green woodland camouflage utilities in the winter on dates roughly coinciding with Daylight Savings Time changes. Now all sailors and Marines serving with Marine Corps units will use the woodland pattern throughout the year.

In the summer, Marines will roll the sleeves on their woodland camouflage uniforms the way they now do on their desert cammies; in the winter, sleeves will be rolled down, according to the message.

It's not clear how this change came about or if this is a move signaling a look forward to other combat theaters after a decade-and-a-half of fighting in the Middle East. Questions to Marine Corps officials Saturday did not receive an immediate response.

Marines also will alternate between the service "B" tan-and-green uniform, with long sleeves, in the winter, and the service "C," with short sleeves, in the summer, the message states.

For bases and units outside the continental United States, the relevant Marine Forces commander will determine which utility uniform will be worn, according to the message. These commanders are also authorized to adjust the dates from which Marines can transition from one uniform to another in keeping with what is appropriate for the region.

Within the continental United States, the new policy allows for some exceptions. Marine Forces commanders and commanders of bases or Marine expeditionary forces can take into account seasonal weather patterns when dictating the seasonal change from sleeves-down to sleeves-up.

Commanders of troops in training, from boot camp and the basic school to military occupational specialty schools, can determine which camouflage utility uniform will be worn. And commanders overseeing units in pre-deployment training can choose the utility uniform for wear based on "mission requirements," the message states.

The new policy represents a significant departure for the Marine Corps, which has observed regular seasonal changes of camouflage patterns for the utility uniform since 2008, just four years after the Corps' distinctive "MARPAT" camouflage was fielded to the fleet.

But in January, Neller approved a uniform change that included a waiver policy to the seasonal changeover to account for local climate and mission considerations, and gave Marine Forces commanders and certain other commanding generals the authority to approve waivers in their area of operations.

Marines have in the past reacted strongly to changes regarding their beloved cammies. In 2011, Gen. James Amos, then the commandant, ordered all Marines to keep their sleeves rolled down year-round.

The move was so unpopular for so long that in 2014 Amos reversed the decision, allowing Marines to roll their sleeves during the summer months once more.

-- Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct when Gen. Amos originated the year-round sleeves down policy.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at@HopeSeck.

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