Quasi-Case Study: Uniformity?


Intel Enabler
Verified SOF
Sep 9, 2006

To sum up:

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Minor was recently threatened with legal action and with being kicked out of the Army by his new command in Iraq, after he wrote a letter to Stars and Stripes objecting to a requirement for all soldiers in his unit to wear the 1st Infantry Division combat patch (he is entitled to wear the 173rd patch).

Assume all of the information in the article to be true. If you care to do so, address the following questions:

-Would the chain of command be justified in pursuing legal action against this Soldier?

-What would you do if you were the Soldier in this situation?

-What would you do if your were in the Soldier's chain of command?
That's the first I have heard of that kind of situation where you had to wear the units combat patch instead of a former units'.

- I honestly have no clue.... I would guess Army regs would prevail...

- Probably have just worn the damn patch and put in a 4187 lol

- Slapped myself for requiring the unit's combat patch. I can understand why they would do it, I guess....I just don't agree with it.
Minor said he protested the mandate with his first sergeant, his company commander, his command sergeant major and the battalion commander before writing his letter to Stripes. “All of them said that we had to wear the [1st ID] patch and that it was an order,” Minor said.
The Staff NCO's in the command are partly to blame for insufficiently satisfying the matter when it was brought up. The CO who took this route to his initiative must feel some responsibility, since his attempts at building unity were met with resistance by some soldiers who feel they've earned the right to be distinguished. He, as well as his close junior officers and staff NCO's also failed to anticipate the ramifications of the orders, which probably skirt pre-existing regulations. Someone in the CO's circle should have pointed that out. Those pre-existing regs were put into place for a reason, as distinguishing oneself among other men is a great part of why warriors do the job of professional soldier- even intelligence officers and NCO's.

Ultimately, Minor shouldn't be airing his laundry to the media. That's disloyal, inappropriate, and resolves nothing. It also further damages the morale and sense of unity the command was trying to build. It seems to be a sign of deeper unresolved issues. Even if he is within his rights, he is not exercising judgment, or concern for the welfare of his fellow soldiers. For me, that is the gravest transgression.

From what I can see, the command needs to do more to build morale and unity. Wearing the same patch is not working. These warriors need some suffering, swearing, fighting, and a little bit of alcohol to create some sense of family- however dysfunctional. The SNCO's who dropped the ball in accurately assessing Minor's gripe need to reassess their approach at such matters, and Minor himself needs to check his career path, as his head is obviously out of the game.

Edit: Legal action is (in my humble opinion) the wrong approach. If a unit wants to build cohesion, the troops should not feel like the command is out to burn them- especially about threatening his reenlistment options. This is a "get your ass in my office" moment, not a "call legal" moment.
There's a whole lotta stupid in that article.

- The command for being douchebags. Everyone wears the same patch? Oh, please.
- Whining to the media about this problem? Get a grip.

If I'm the soldier I complain up my chain of command and down it, but I wear the 1ID patch in the interim. I stay away form the media like the plague.

Ultimately, it rises and falls on leadership and his failed him. Epic fail.
Gimmick leadership + wrong approach to voiceing complaints.

The current unit patch is already worn on the left. The right belongs to the individual, as per AR 670-1.

He could choose NOT to wear a combat patch. Certainly there are more important policy decisions to be made in a WAR than what combat patch everyone must wear.
My thoughts...

The latest message I found concerning wear of the combat patch is below:

http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/uniform/docs/ALARACT 030-2006.pdf

Here is the applicable portion:


So, by the reg, selection of the combat patch for those who have more than one, is an individual choice.

Nonetheless, Army commanders have enormous latitude with regard to proscribing restrictions on conduct and uniform. The general rule is, "you can add to, but cannot take away from, the regulation."

I went back to AR-670-1; the latest one I have is from 2005 but I don't think it's changed that much since then. With this passage from paragraph 1-4...

...the commander issuing the clothing and equipment will establish wear policies for organizational clothing and equipment.*

... it appears to me that the commander in this situation was clearly within his rights to designate a specific combat patch be worn by personnel in his command.

That said, my personal attitude has always been to never needlessly complicate my Soldiers' lives, or to make rules that "only" apply to them. The Army has enough rules as it is; no need to add to them if we don't have to.

Every Soldier in the unit was already wearing a 1st ID patch on the left sleeve; no need to make them all wear one on the right as well.

Designating a specific combat patch was done "to improve morale?" :uhh: I remember another ill-advised uniform change done "to improve morale," and that backfired as well. Anyone want to take a guess what that was?

Then we have the guy that wants to air his unit's dirty laundry to the press... dumb ass. Inasmuch as the order to wear a specific combat patch is not illegal, immoral, or unethical, he had a duty to obey it. "That's a stupid fucking idea" is not a good reason to go running to the press. He brought unnecessary negative attention to himself and his unit.

If I was the commander, I wouldn't have made a rule like this. If I was a Soldier in the unit that had that rule, I would STFU and wear the 1ID patch while I was there- whatever; I have plenty more things to worry about while I'm deployed than what I'm wearing on my right side. If I was in the CoC of the guy that ran to the press, I would probably pull him into the office with the 1SG and we'd have a little chat about the "right" way to handle unit-internal problems and issues.


* edited to add: after re-reading my post, I think that portion may only address organizational-specific (i.e. OCIE) clothing, like special T-shirts or unit-specific running shorts, and not the overall utility uniform... I'll have to check.
The notion that "we all look the same therefore we are a team" is so laughable that the only thing you can back it up with is the UCMJ. If the old man gives a legal order, you have to follow it. But clearly this commander's concept of leadership, battlefield priorities, and troop morale is shot, never to be fixed.

If the Soldier was ordered to wear X and he wears Y, there are grounds for legal action. Galactic level chickenshit legal action. I'm not sure about for writing a letter though. I doubt it.

If I were the Soldier, I'd ask for a CM if they try to pursue it legally. I'd be surprised if CoC did though. They'll probably just ride his ass and them screw him over after deployment.

If I were the BDE CDR, I'd man up and cancel the policy. Never gonna happen.
It's the not the dumbest thing I've heard about life in the box these days, but it comes pretty close.

Everybody is already wearing the 1st ID patch on the left, what's worn on the right is up to the individual soldier. They can choose to wear any patch they are authorized to wear under that reg, or none at all.

That this would even become an issue shows how ridiculous things can get in the field, where a garrison mentality starts to take hold the longer a unit or an Army is deployed.

They should all just eat some grub at Taco Bell and chill out.
They should all just eat some grub at Taco Bell and chill out.

Chill on the shitter you mean? :D

This kind of thing with the patches is just asinine BS to me, the commanders need to wake up and focus their energies on some real issues, which I'm almost certain during a combat deployment they may have one or two.
harryhubbard68 said:
LEGS hold up a chickens ass

I'm sorry, but would you mind explaining what this means?

The meaning is probably obvious since no one else asked about it, but I'm not usually one to catch the obvious.