WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has told his military aides not to wear combat fatigues to work at the Pentagon anymore, reversing a symbolic change of protocol ordered in the harrowing days after the Sept. 11 attacks.IMHO, the only people who should wear camouflage are soldiers who need to do so in order not to be seen by the enemy while fighting. The manifest "symbolism" of wearing combat fatigues elsewhere is that the military is so incompetent that it doesn't even know where the battlefield is...plus, it looks sloppy and undisciplined, at least to my eye...so, my hat's off to the Secretary of Defense on his decision!
There was no formal announcement about Mr. Gates directing his military staff to shed their fatigues in favor of business uniforms — the smartly pressed ones bedecked with combat medals and service ribbons that are the military equivalent of a civilian coat and tie, worn with dress shoes and not combat boots.
But throughout the Defense Department, where every action by the civilian boss is parsed by officers with a care akin to old-school Kremlinology, Mr. Gates’s decision is likely to prompt deliberations across the armed services on whether to have personnel working in the Pentagon follow his example.
The defense secretary’s instructions took effect with the start of the new year and were directed at only some of the 23,000 employees at the Pentagon. Even so, the change has been noticed by recent visitors to Mr. Gates’s third-floor suite of offices and has become a topic of conversation along the Pentagon’s 17.5 miles of corridors.
The switch to camouflage and flight suits became the norm in the days after Sept. 11, and it made a statement: The building itself was a terrorist target, the nation was on a war footing, and it was thought important that even military personnel on the home front should dress for combat.
NEXT STEP FOR SECRETARY GATES: Please move Central Command HQ from Tampa, Florida to Kabul, Afghanistan, ASAP.