Cover Controversy to be Resolved

29 Oct 2012 | Sgt. Amber Williams 4th Marine Corps District

Over the next several months you will see female Marines in three different covers (hats); the current bucket cover, the new improved female dress cover and the current male dress cover. The goal is to see how Marines and the public react to the improved female dress cover and the male dress cover. Recruiting Stations from 4th Marine Corps District are participating in targeted evaluations. Recruiting Station Frederick had one of the first fittings out of 11 recruiting stations.

A recruiting unit is known to wear the dress uniform more often and was an obvious choice when deciding which type of unit should test the covers, according to Steve Davis, the team leader of the Combat, Cold Weather & Dress Clothing Team at Marine Corps Systems Command.

“Over 30 females (from 4th MCD) will be dawning different covers until January,” said Davis.

The effort to change the female cover was started over 11 years ago by General James T. Conway, the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, explained Davis. About three years ago it was going to go to sea bags (meaning a Marine would receive the item in boot camp) when it was decided to test the male dress covers on females as well.

Now females all across the district will be wearing the improved female dress cover until sometime in December. They will switch covers in December to the male dress cover. The improved female cover has a straight up and down edge instead of the lip like the male dress cover. “Those are cute,” said Sgt. Arlene Tibbs when she first picked up the improved female dress cover.

Tibbs is a recruiter with Recruiting Station Frederick. “I like this one because it looks girly (looking at the improved female dress cover)… maybe the recruiters should wear this one (pointing at the improved female cover), but in the fleet we should wear this one (pointing to the male dress cover),” she said. Tibbs thought the public would respond better to the female looking cover, but she expressed a desire to see uniformity in the fleet.

Davis said, at the end of the trial period Tibbs will have a chance to actually put that in her survey and it could be an option.
Uniformity is the main reason for the new cover, said Davis. The female cover is considered to be too different from the male cover.

“The change will show we’re all the same with the cover being more similar, it will show there isn’t a difference between male and female Marines. We’re all Marines,” said Tibbs.

She also jokingly admitted that one of her deciding factors in joining the Corps was the Marine Dress Uniform. “I was like awww man, when I saw the female cover (for the first time).” It did not have the same effect. “I am glad they are changing it,” she said.

The financial aspect is also a deciding factor for some Marines. “For the functionality the male (dress) cover comes in piece meal. You don’t have to replace the whole thing,” said GySgt. Kristine Terrell, the 4th MCD Musician Placement Director.

Terrell liked the look of the improved female cover. She also said that there are two reasons to appreciate the male dress cover, the first being functionality and the second being uniformity between males and females.

It be less of a financial burden to the Marines, and it will cost the Department of Defense less. The cover will not have to be bid out to a new contract for production. They can just increase production of the male cover on the current contract. Thus reducing the cost from production to finished product, explained Davis.

There is over a forty dollar difference between the current female cover and the male dress cover according to the cost comparison chart released by Marine Corps Systems Command.

After years of design, debate and testing the cover will go up for review in April by the Commandant General James F. Amos according to Davis. “It could be instantaneous or it could take several months to be approved,” he said.

Davis explained the approval process will begin after all the data is collected. The surveys are being given to several units who have worn the covers over the last three months. The survey process should end mid-January 2013.

4th MCD and bands from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, 1st Marine Division and Marine Corps Reserves are all involved in the evaluation. The surveys will be used to put together comprehensive reports so the commandant can make the most informed decision when it goes up for review in April.

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