A battalion commander is forbidding soldiers under his command from wearing their Army-issued fleece jackets while on a rotation in South Korea, where local average temperatures during the winter frequently dip below freezing.
“The fleece cold weather jacket is not authorized for wear as an outer garment,” Lt. Col. Geoffrey Lynch, commander of 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, said in an August memo reviewed by Military.com.
A spokesperson for Fort Bliss, where the unit is based, did not return a request for comment ahead of this story’s publication. Maj. David Matoi, Lynch’s executive officer who is listed as the memo’s point of contact, did not respond to a request for comment.
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It is unclear why Lynch outlawed the fleece as an outergarment, given that Army clothing regulations specifically say that the jacket is meant to be worn on “mild cold days,” with the memo referencing those same rules.
The other regulation referenced in the memo was a paragraph out of the Army’s regulatory guidelines on uniforms which gives commanders broad authority on dictating what troops can wear, “Soldiers may wear the [cold weather] jackets and trousers as outer garments, to include the fleece jacket, when authorized by the commander.”
It’s not the first time a debate over the fleece has popped up, as questions sporadically surface about whether the jacket is primarily intended to be an undergarment worn under other cold weather gear. Though Army rules make it clear the jacket can be worn as an outer garment and are otherwise generally loose on when and where troops can wear it.
A top Army official overseeing uniform rules squashed any of that confusion back in January.
“It’s an outer garment,” Sgt. Maj. Ashleigh Sykes, the top enlisted leader for uniform policy said on Twitter in January. “There is hook and loop for name tapes, rank, and US Army to make that obvious.”
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, the service’s top enlisted leader, endorsed the message. “That settles that,” he tweeted.
— Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.
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