19 December 2006

Where is the common sense? Part 1

This is the first in a series of rants wondering where the common sense lies in some of the strange policies I've encountered in Iraq and Kuwait.

The first policy I want to address is the "patch" policy here in Kuwait. Normally, while wearing ACUs, we wear a unit patch on our left shoulder, and a combat patch and the U.S. flag on the right shoulder. The unit patch is of the unit we are assigned to (JCCS-1) while the combat patch is given to you by the unit you're serving with.

We were told this morning that while in Kuwait we were not allowed to wear the combat patch or U.S. flag. The combat patch decision is puzzling; the only real explanation would be that most people who are stationed in Kuwait will never get a combat patch and perhaps they are jealous of those who have one. If that is any or all of the motivation for the policy, it's just silly. If there is a legitimate reason for forbidding sailors from wearing a well-deserved combat patch, I haven't heard it. Not wanting to do anything to stir the pot (and possibly delay getting home), most people have taken off their combat patches (most likely to be promptly reapplied as soon as we leave Kuwait).

The U.S. flag patch decision is more than puzzling, it's mind-boggling. Let me make sure you get this straight: the policy for the U.S. Navy, as explained to us this morning, is that while in Kuwait (preparing to go home) sailors wearing ACUs are forbidden to wear a U.S. flag patch. I simply cannot come up with any words to explain how shocked I am at this policy. I removed my combat patch, but I still wear my U.S. flag patch with pride. Are they really planning on disciplining people for showing pride and patriotism in their country? Especially when the U.S. flag patch is required on the uniform in Iraq? I would expect that such news would spread like wildfire through the military blogosphere and perhaps even into the mainstream media. Remember when Michael New refused to wear the United Nations hat? This is even more absurd than that.

I sincerely hope that someone wrongly explained the policy to us. I cannot fathom how anyone could possibly write a policy that would forbid the wearing of one's flag patch, especially since it is an integral part of most uniforms.
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