Photo Information

Recruits of Platoon 3214, Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, march with their sleeves rolled up. Rolled sleeves bring back some of the old traditions of the Marine Corps.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jericho Crutcher

Commandant returns Corps to rolled sleeves tradition

13 Mar 2014 | Lance Cpl. Jericho Crutcher Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, prepared the Marine Corps to bring back sleeves up, which started March 9.

The Marine Corps leaders circuited around the Corps asking non-commissioned officers their opinions and made their decision to bring “rolled sleeves” back.

“Sgt. Maj. Barrett and I have now spoken to the majority of you about our efforts to reawaken the ‘Soul of our Corps,’” said Amos. “Because of the persistence of you, my sergeants and corporals, this evening I am publishing a Maradmin that will return us to sleeves up status when wearing our desert utilities in non-combat areas.”

Amos released a letter March 5 stating once the Marine Corps changed to the summer uniforms, rolled sleeves would be worn with combat utilities. That change took place March 9, in conjunction with the adjustment of daylight savings.

Marines would not be the only ones with sleeves up aboard the depot. Recruits would also wear their sleeves up during recruit training during the summer seasons.

“I’m excited to learn how to roll sleeves,” said Recruit Eric N. Lopez, Platoon 1014, Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. “Our uniforms are one of the bigger things that stand out from the other branches.”

Drill instructors will teach the recruits how to properly roll their sleeves by paying attention to the small details.

“This is a good tradition to bring back to the Marine Corps: it gives a sense of pride,” said Sgt. Timothy S. Bazua, drill instructor. “It’s going to require small unit leadership throughout the platoon to help recruits learn how to roll proper sleeves.”

“I can't tell you how many times we have been asked the persistent question, 'Commandant, are we ever going to return to sleeves up?'” said Amos. 

“The Commandant has been leaning into it for a while now, as he has taken to heart the many conversations he’s had with thousands of his (noncommissioned officers) in recent months,” said Lt. Col. David Nevers in an email. “After speaking to a theater full of corporals and sergeants yesterday at Quantico, he decided it was time to announce the change.”

The Marine Corps Uniform Board changed the utility uniform policy from sleeves rolled up to sleeves rolled down on Oct. 24, 2011. 

The board's reasoning was to promote uniformity and help Marines to “train as we fight.” While in combat, Marines wear their sleeves down in combat zones for more protection for their arms against different terrains and climates.

Rolled sleeves bring back some of the old traditions the Marine Corps takes pride in and can be used as another way to bring back “The soul of our Corps.”

Discipline; adherence to standards; engaged and concerned leadership (24/7); and faithful obedience to orders are the four enduring principle of the Marine Corps new focus. 

“Those four principles define what we have called ‘The soul of the Corps,'” said Amos.  “They have been with us for over 238 years. It's always been that way.”

 “As we have traveled throughout our Corps, many of you have let us know how important your identity as a Marine is to you and the Marines you lead. I can’t tell you how many times we have been asked the persistent question ‘Commandant, are we ever going to return to SLEEVES UP?’” Amos wrote in his announcement. “I’ve thought a lot about this over the past 2.5 years; I realize that it’s important to you. Sleeves up clearly and visually sets us apart.”