According to USA Today, troops in other services can roll their sleeves, but soldiers have not been able to since the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) replaced the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU).
Specialist Milt Perkins, 26, and other Army soldiers are requesting that the rules be amended and that they can roll up the sleeves of their Army Combat Uniforms during the hot summer months.
“I sweat every day when I walk to work,” Perkins told Army Times. “You get sticky.”
Army officials have stated that the ACU top was designed to protect soldiers’ forearms from sun exposure causing skin cancer, insect bites and other elements. It’s not intended to be cuffed or rolled at the sleeve and the issue is currently not on the table, although leadership is “always looking to make our clothing and equipment better,” according to Command Sergeant Major Doug Maddi, senior enlisted adviser to PEO Soldier, the office that procures and provides soldier equipment.
Fox News reported that troops in the other U.S. services, meanwhile, are allowed to roll their sleeves, most notably leading to the Marines’ “suns out, guns out” mantra.
Specialist Ian Humphrey, a 26-year-old construction surveyor at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg and the son of a Marine scout sniper, recalled the crisp, cuffed sleeves of the BDU era.
“In BDUs, they looked more like soldiers, someone to look up to,” Humphrey told Army Times. “You always saw everyone with their sleeves rolled up and tattoos out, no problem.”
However, not all soldiers agreed that it’s time to lift the ban.
Army National Guard Staff Sergeant James Lowe, a 35-year-old indirect fire infantryman at Texas’ Camp Swift, said he didn’t enjoy rolling his sleeves on active duty in the late 1990s and still opposes it. He cited a fellow soldier whose arms were too large to fit through rolled-up sleeves, leading him to make alterations.
“I know this would not be a common problem, but it caused him to have to spend money to alter uniforms,” Lowe said.
The ban began with a single sentence tucked away in a message from April 5, 2005, when then-Army chief of staff General Peter Schoomaker replaced the BDU with the digital ACU. It mandated that sleeves “will be worn down at all times, and not rolled or cuffed.”
“Soldiers can request changes to the Department of the Army Pamphlet 670-1 Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, by submitting a Department of the Army (DA) Form 2028 to the Army G1 though their chain of command,” Maddi said in an email.
Until then, sleeves will remain down.