Behind the Cover: Marine Corps orders sleeves down all year


Marines are up in arms over — well — the right to bare arms. And we aren’t talking about the rifles they carry into combat. We’re talking about the pair of standard issue guns permanently attached at the shoulders.

As of today Marines will wear their sleeves down all year, according to a recent order, approved last week by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Leaders say the change promotes uniformity of appearance. Marines deploy with sleeves down so they should wear them that way at home too. Also, sleeves protect Marines from the sun and insects even in a garrison environment, spokesmen at the Pentagon say.

But many Marines in the fleet are calling foul. Not only does it look sharp, they contend, but it is something they have been doing for about a century. Above all, rolled sleeves sets Marines apart from soldiers, sailors and airmen.

For all the details and to hear your brothers in arms sound off on why they hate the change, pick up this week’s issue of Marine Corps Times on newsstands now. Or subscribe here to read it instantly.


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  1. This is a travesty, some pencil pusher decides this is a good idea, wrong!!!! They must not know or forgot how to roll sleeves or maybe have no arms to fill them out. They are more worried about the Marine Corps image then the Marines themselves. So then in civilian attire should we wear sleeves down too? This is a crock of crap. Next thing you know we will be getting rid of Charlies because someone thinks its a good idea. This is total BS and can’t believe this!!!!! Those of us who aren’t fobbits, didn’t get regular showers in stan, so should the Corps then limit showers to save money in the states?? Complete BS!!!! Remember where we came from!!!!

  2. Any change is met with backlash. Sleeves up or down do not make or identify a Marine. There have been uniform changes as long as there has been a Marine Corps. This too shall pass.

    Semper Fi

  3. Apparently some marines got really used to their desk jobs, It happened already so deal with it quit crying and moaning

  4. When I was a 0311 at 29 Palms we ALWAYS had our sleeves down…or at least since we have been at war. Not that serious gents get over it. We grunts always have to get over it so suck it up for once.**Any vets in NYC email if you want a great job with a great company making great money**

  5. this article needs its facts straight. a century is not even close to how long the corps has been rolling its sleeves. sleeve rolling started in 1981 with the introduction of BDU’s…

  6. I agree with the comments that sleeves up or down does not identify a Marine, however it does identify the Marines that care about looking sharp in uniform, and those who have that attention to detail. Honestly if this was done to create a Marine Corps in which all look the same, great, the Marine Corps to me has always been about teamwork. But if this is somehow done because someone feels like it takes time into a Marine’s productivity and they can be doing something else, then no, it does take long to do them, 7 minutes the most. I have a female JROTC who I’ve helped and even she has learned to roll them up. Why can’t a grown male/female do the same? In the end these are orders, can we object? yes, and we have the right too, but ultimately right now the Marines have to push through and continue to execute the mission.

  7. we were rolling sleeves in 73 when I enlisted, so it was going on long before then,desk jockys dont do what grunts have to do, they should have kept quite, but orders are orders, so just have to keep pluggin as grunts do,uniform dress codes will change again count on it.

  8. This is yet another example of how the Marine Corps has failed their Marines. The point in my previous sentence is not about sleeves up or down, but rather an example of how the Corps is not addressing priorities like educational, medical, and disability benefits to Marines who earned them. Aren’t there other major problems that need to be addressed like finding a better way to destroy IED’s? How about provinding better caring to wounded warriors! The Commandant should realize that making dumb rules like this should not be on his list of “things to do”. How does this better the Corps? If anything, it takes away from the traditions of the Corps. Some people may view this as an unimportant subject, but obviously the Commandant does not. Are unit CO’s to dumb to make the call on sleeves up or down? If the Commandant wants Marine to be uniform, whether in combat or garisson, then Marine should be in flak jackets 24/7. Marines are all about tradition, and this is why are motto does not change every other second when relatively compared to the Army.

    It’s like telling your Marine not to put his hands in his pockets when the it is freezing cold outside. Logically, this makes sense so the Corps feels the need to act irrational to keep up with traditions? The KIA bracelet are another example of how the Commandant failed his Marines by not addressing the issue in a normal amount of time. How dare the Corps rule, even for a second, that Marines are not allowed to carry on the memory of their fallen brothers in this manner!

    Tattoos are another example of how one idiot can ruin the careers of great Marines because they have ink that is visible. What’s next, suit and ties in the field? Would that be professional enough for you? What part of trained killers doesn’t make sense? And then there’s DADT! What the heck is going on with the Corps? Maybe it would behoove the Commandant to re-evaluate his decision making paradigm.

    I once had a conversation with a soldier, and he stated the fact the he was jealous that Marines were able wear their sleeves up in the summer time. I replied that wearing sleeves up in summer is a nice thing, but at least the Army can wear their cammies outside of garrison which is useful if you wanted to eat at a restaurant that was outside of base during a lunch break. If the Commandant feels the need to go against traditions then I would hope that he would change the rules which would allow Marines to wear their cammies outside of base, but that probably will not happen because that makes too much sense.

  9. Man screw the CMC. I remember this tradition ever since I was a kid seeing my dad as a Marine sleeves up and inside out, clearly identifying a Marine. If the CMC wants uniformity here and forward why not make all the Marines where flaks and PPE at Condition 1 with their 16’s back home to0. CMC is a POS. I am so glad I am out of this, weakening organization. Lets make boot camp 9 weeks long and stop the DI yelling while where at it.

  10. Cpl Richard L Baccarie U.S.M.C. RETIRED on

    As a senior time in grade Corporal of Marines in Second Air Naval Gunfire Liason Company.(ANGLICO) during. 1990-1996 I was picked for a meeting for the welfare of the enlisted Marines. We were the ones who implemented refrigerators and many little things as enlisted Marines want while in the rear. I can’t understand why they concentrate on non urgent matters, when many battle field questions are yet unsolved. Secondly U.S. Marines deserve the distinction w/ sleeves down. Morale and honor of being a Marine goes far beyond uniforms. It is a tradition that should not be touched, next you’ll intergrate us into the Army so we can wear berets. Bottom line leave us to fight and shut the hell up about things that are irrelevant .
    Cpl. Richard L. Baccarie U.S.M.C. RET.

  11. Future usmc grunt on

    What the hell is going on??? Society is so F***** up that morals and honor and even tradition go out the window. My father is a marine and joined in 1993 and always had his sleeves down.Its not even about the uniforms but the fact that your stripping the rights of marines who died and earned the right to wear the uniform in which we once did. Damn the cmc! We can not turn our cheek for another slap to the face. Other wise, next thing you know everybody will have a globe and anchor. Hell even the army. The CMC obviously doesnt deserve the title of Marine if he obviously forgot where his roots come from. SEMPER FIDELIS!!!!!! ALWAYS FAITHFUL!!!! To yourself, your country, family and ESPECIALLY your brothers in arms…..your fellow marines.

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