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    Tradition vs. Modernity: US Marine Corps Allows Male Marines to Carry Umbrellas in Uniform in 2019

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    In 2019, the U.S. Marine Corps, known for its strict traditions and regulations, implemented a significant change that reflects contemporary sensibilities and practical necessities.

    After centuries of barring male Marines from carrying umbrellas while in uniform, the Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has announced that “Marines may carry an all-black, plain, standard or collapsible umbrella at their option during inclement weather with the service and dress uniforms.”

    The policy shift, effective immediately, concludes a long-standing practice that has been a notable part of the Marine Corps’ identity.

    This move, highlighting a blend of common sense and evolution in military dress code, comes after an survey conducted by the Marine Corps’ uniform board, although officials have not disclosed the number of Marines who favored this change.

    However, the restrictions remain in place for certain situations; umbrellas are not to be used in formation nor with the camouflage combat utility uniform.

    While the change is welcomed by many, it has also sparked a debate among the Marines.

    For some, this decision represents a pragmatic approach to protect service members and their costly uniforms from the elements.

    Others, however, see it as a departure from the Corps’ image of readiness and ruggedness.

    Notably, Shane Witcher, a Marine veteran, expressed his disapproval, stating, “A Marine cannot choke an enemy or properly punch him in the face with an umbrella in his hand,” underscoring the philosophical stance of Marines always being prepared for action.

    On the other side of the argument, Marine veteran Maximilian Uriarte supports the decision, commenting on the progress of eliminating “stupid rules that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.”

    Meanwhile, the policy only permits umbrellas in specific instances, such as when Marines are wearing service and dress uniforms for formal occasions, working at headquarters, or on recruiting duty.

    The umbrella ban for male Marines gained widespread attention in 2013 when President Barack Obama, flanked by Marines, was covered by an umbrella during a rainy speech, an incident that was later referred to as “Umbrella-gate.”

    This act was seen as a breach of protocol and sparked debate, as the Marine Corps Manual specifies that soldiers’ uniforms do not allow the carrying of umbrellas, a directive that female Marines were exempt from since 1972.

    Marine Corps Uniform Board program manager Mary Boyt revealed that there have been six failed attempts to change this rule for female Marines since 1972.

    The recent approval, which appears to be a shift towards greater gender parity in uniform protocols, was influenced by practical concerns over uniform preservation rather than just staying dry.

    Relevant articles:
    Marines Can Now Use Umbrellas Instead of Just Holding them Up for Presidents
    Marines are able to carry umbrellas for the first time, Daily Mail, Tue, 12 Nov 2019 08:00:00 GMT
    ‘It made him look like a butler’: Retired general blasts President Obama for ordering U.S. Marine to break military rules by holding an umbrella, Daily Mail, Fri, 17 May 2013 07:00:00 GMT

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