Army to Allow Rolled Sleeves on Cammies Again


After more than a decade, the Army is back to allowing soldiers to roll the sleeves of their camouflage uniform in garrison:

The practice was banned for years. Then there was a pilot program. The results were studied closely. And on Tuesday, the Army is expected to announce its big decision: Rolled sleeves on camouflage uniforms are now completely acceptable.

The move would give a stiff-arm to recent history, in which the Army was the only Pentagon service that did not allow rolled sleeves, even in the hot summer months associated with serving at places such as Fort Hood, Tex., and Fort Benning, Ga.

Army Sgt. Major Daniel A. Dailey said in an interview Tuesday that he expected Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army’s top officer, to sign off on the specifics within hours. There’s little doubt which way the service is going: A majority of soldiers have greeted the change with cheers, and service leaders appear to be receptive to that.

“When you can change thing that doesn’t break good order and discipline and that soldiers like, let’s do it,” Dailey said. “We’re the only service that doesn’t do it, and we used to. So it’s not one of those things that if we do, we can’t survive. Because we’ve done it before and we know it’s not going to hurt anybody.”

That perspective is new. Dailey said in an Army Times article published in February that there was no need to allow rolled sleeves, saying doing so was “not consistent with a neat appearance.” His predecessor, then-Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler, also said several times that he was against it.

Milley announced on June 16 a 10-day pilot program at Fort Hood and seemed open then to making the change permanent. Soldiers wore rolled sleeves with a previous camouflage uniform, the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) until it was phased out in 2005, and there are numerous photographs from World War II and Vietnam that show soldiers with their sleeves rolled.

While a seemingly silly debate from a civilian perspective, it’s the sort of thing that matters to the troops.  In the Marine Corps, Jim Amos was reviled as Commandant for requiring sleeves down; he reversed course toward the end of his tenure.

The sub-debate on this is even more sillier for those outside the culture:

One question that remained Tuesday morning is whether sleeves will be rolled so that the camouflage shows on the roll. That, too, has generated a spirited debate, both because the Marines already roll their sleeves in and the Army has previously rolled their sleeves out.

Dailey said he kept his own opinions to himself during polling because he did not want to influence the results. But like the majority of the Army, he said, he favored rolling with camouflage out.

“I’m rooting for my camo out folks,” he said.

There’s no practical reason to care either way but Army tradition from the BDU era was camo out. It’s perhaps slightly harder to roll them that way but it’s pretty simple.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott says:

    Personally, I always like camo out rolled sleeves and thought they were far neater than baggy long sleeves. Prefer short sleeves in civvie clothes also. Then again, I’m Air Force, so take that into consideration.

  2. JohnMcC says:

    Hah! Another USAF “bus driver” veteran here. Recalling a cartoon years (decades!) ago showing two AF ‘lower 4’ guys diddy-bopping down a sidewalk with hats slung back and shirt tails out passing two US Army 2d Lt’s. One of the LTs is turning to reprimand them but his pal has laid a hand on his arm and says — “Forget it, they don’t even salute their own officers.”

  3. John Peabody says:

    As an Army Bandmsan from the BDU era, one problem was the seasonal changing of ‘sleeves up’ or ‘sleeves down’. If we prepped for a ceremony with sleeves up, arrive at the parade field and see the other troops with sleeves down, it’s very easy to slam down your sleeves to match– IF you have the cammo out.

    If the mistake was the other way (we had sleeves down but the troops have sleeves up), well, the tension inside the bus is palpable as 30 soldiers frantically remove their blouses, roll the sleeves carefully, and jam them on again, grab our instruments, and get in position. That’s when we cursed the cammo-out!

  4. Todd says:

    I really shouldn’t care about this … especially now that I’m retired. But I actually liked the fact that the Army had to have sleeves down. I was in the Air Force, but my last 10 years were at Army support assignments. By the end of my career, I was so used to sleeves down (we had to follow the Army rules on the Army post) that it bugged me whenever I went to an Air Force base and saw Airmen with the sleeves rolled up … lol, I suppose this is why grumpy old SNCOs need to retire.

    If they have to be rolled up though, I’m on team camo-out. 🙂

  5. gVOR08 says:

    I don’t care about this. I was curious how you roll it camo out. I see above you have to take the shirt off. Seriously?

  6. Jenos Idanian says:

    To this civilian, the “camo out/camo in” debate sounds a bit like the “toilet paper over/under the roll” argument…