Marine Corps Authorizes Drone Operator Insignia For Uniforms

Source: U.S. Marine Corps
Source: U.S. Marine Corps

The Marine Corps handed down a handful of new uniform decisions this week, including authorized wear of a new unmanned aircraft systems breast insignia, still under development, and a new permission to tuck the camouflage utility uniform blouse into the pants, rather than leaving it untucked.

The changes were announced in a Marine administrative message, which details decisions made by Commandant Gen. Robert Neller on proposals put forward by the Marine Corps Uniform Board. According to the message, the decisions were made in July.

The first agenda item authorized a breast insignia for UAS officers and enlisted operators, highlighting an ongoing effort within the Defense Department to recognize the work of this relatively new military community. Earlier this year, the Pentagon and the service branches finalized a series of changes to military awards that included the creation of an "R" device to honor the battle contribution of drone operators and others who have a combat impact from a distance.

The Marine Corps has relatively few authorized breast insignia, mainly reserved for elite fields. Currently, MARSOC Raiders, explosive ordnance disposal technicians, combatant divers and scuba divers, parachutists, aviators, and aircrew members are all eligible for special insignia.

The design of the UAS badge has not been finalized, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Christopher Harrison said. According to the message, fielding information for the badge will be published separately.

A major change in uniform appearance -- the decision allow commanders to require Marines to tuck in their cammie blouses -- is driven by utility, according to the message. The decision authorizes commanders to direct Marines to tuck in their uniforms "when doing so will enable Marines to deploy and employ mission critical equipment," the message states. Examples of such equipment include a police belt, duty belt, or pistol belt, according to the message; other exceptions may be specified at the commander's discretion.

The Marine Corps is also adding some colder weather equipment to the seabag: the watch cap, Marine Corps combat utility uniform gloves and inserts for the gloves. Previously, these items were issues by units based on operational requirements; this direction will allow them to be owned and maintained by Marines.

Dates for fielding the new seabag items have yet to be announced, and will be published separately.

Combat instructors will also see a change to their seabag, according to the message. It authorizes an additional pair of hot weather Marine Corps combat boots for instructors at schools on the East and West coasts and swaps out temperate weather Marine Corps combat boots in place of Rugged All Terrain Boots for instructors at the Corps' schools of infantry.

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

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