May 2014 will bring about a series of changes in regards to the uniforms for female Navy officers and enlistees. The announcement was made by Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus last Christmas Eve, and came as a shock to many. The general census among military personnel is that a change to the female uniforms is not necessary. However Mabus explains the reasons for the uniform change in the following statement:
“These changes ensure greater uniformity in our service and ceremonial dress, but more importantly, they send a clear signal that we are one in dress, one in standard and one in team. As you look out across a group of Sailors, you ought to see, not female and male Sailors, but Sailors,” Ray Mabus, SECNAV.
A survey with over 1,000 female Navy personnel conducted in the spring of 2013 concluded that military women welcomed the changes to their uniforms as a means to resemble the male uniforms. However, survey respondents were adamant about the fact that they wanted a quality manufacturing and redesign of their uniforms as opposed to just being forced to wear the male uniforms.
One of the changes to the uniforms include the redesigning of the Service Dress Blues for female Navy personnel ranked E1-E6. The new design for the dress blues was made to incorporate flexibility, functionality, and comfort all while maintaining the traditional sailor image. The ultimate goal of the redesign, as mention in Mabus’ statement above, is to modify the female dress blues so that they closely resemble the male uniforms.
The other change that is being made to the female Navy uniforms is for those who are ranked an E7 or above. This change consist of the redesigning of the combination covers and again are being made to look and operate very similar to the male combination covers. The new version of the female combination covers will be identical to the men’s but will be more fitted to the proportions and body type of women.
The new styles of both the service dress blues and the combination covers are currently going through an extensive fitting and evaluation process. The goal of this process is to not only make sure that these items are comfortable and suitable for women, but also to ensure that durability and functionality of the items perform properly.
Once the final designs are set and approved by military officials, the manufacturing efforts will be underway. The thorough testing and creation of the new uniforms is set to be completed by the spring of 2014, after which a formal introduction and implementation of the suits will ensue in May of 2014.
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