CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines have been distinguishable on sight, throughout the world, since the beginning of their existence in 1775.
From shaven heads resembling "Mason jars" to rigorous tactics and training, the Marine Corps has earned names such as "Devil Dogs" for their valor and ferocity in Belleau Woods and "Leatherneck" for traditional leather guards protecting their necks from swords. These characteristics and nicknames have distinguished Marines for more than 200 years.
Once again, Marines are striving to distinguish themselves by adopting distinctive and "warrior friendly" uniforms.
Based on feedback from E-mails and focus groups from I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces, several new uniform ideas have surfaced and were recently surveyed through the Internet and via Email correspondence through the Marine Corps Uniform Board.
"The Corps is using Marines to express their opinions, using historical uniforms as a reference of what has worked in the past, but with some radical new changes to reflect technology," said Gunnery Sgt. Roger F. Smith from Houston and the commanding general's administrative chief for Marine Corps Base here.
Once a uniform or changes have been decided on, wear testing in Marine environments will begin before field testing the new uniform items in the Fleet Marine Force.
"The survey and feedback avenues will not be the end of the uniform testing," said Capt. Daniel W. Dukes, secretary/recorder for the MCUB, Headquarters Marine Corps and the Jesup, Ga., native. "We'll drop what Marines don't like so we can focus on a narrow list of options for wear testing and expedite the fielding as early as fall next year."
Improved buttons, snaps, Velcro and distinctive camouflage patterns were a few of the options open to suggestion on the survey. The survey also offered a wide range of uniform styles for pocket placement, removable sleeves and boot gaitors.
"In World War I, we wore the boot gaitors for protection, it's good that we're taking the past into account for implementation of uniform items for the future," said Smith.
"In the 22 years that I've been in, they haven't changed the uniform appearance much," said Master Sgt. Jeff A. Peterson from St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Training Projects Chief with Training, Education and Operations, Marine Corps Base. "They're definitely headed in the right direction for change."