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Petition asks Obama to OK hands in pockets

Nov. 25, 2012 - 09:33AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 25, 2012 - 09:33AM  |  
Service members say they should be allowed to put their hands in their pockets and have started a petition asking for that prohibition to be reversed.
Service members say they should be allowed to put their hands in their pockets and have started a petition asking for that prohibition to be reversed. (Mike Morones / Staff)
  • Filed Under

‘We the people’

To view the petition:
• Go to: www.petitions.whitehouse.gov and click "View petitions."
• Click the search button and enter the word "pockets."
• Click on the petition titled: "Allow United States Military service members to place their hands in their pockets."

Troops are petitioning the White House to lift the services' bans on hands in pockets — and if enough people sign it, your commander in chief could respond.

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Troops are petitioning the White House to lift the services' bans on hands in pockets — and if enough people sign it, your commander in chief could respond.

The matter isn't just about comfort, but also safety, the petition states. Pockets would allow for troops to be able to properly sheathe their deadly "knife hands."

"Knife hands is the way of pointing at someone where your hand looks like a blade," explained "Josh B.," a sergeant in the Army National Guard who posted the petition on the White House website. "They are especially popular with Marines and can be used as defensive weapons."

The petition was put up on the White House website's "We the people" section, which invites Americans to start petitions on issues important to them. If you're able to get enough online signatures — 25,000 within 30 days — the White House staff has to review it. Occasionally, President Obama issues a response, which is emailed to everyone who signs it. But more likely, it will be a member of his staff, the site states.

Josh B. is maintaining some level of anonymity because he doesn't want to get into trouble with his command for partaking in a political activity.

As a regular contributor to the satirical military news website "The Duffel Blog," the military policeman and his colleagues say they're too-often yelled at for having their hands in their pockets.

"It's just silly to us that putting our hands in our pockets is such a big thing that they harp on it in the military," Josh B. said. "You've actually got sergeants major running around bases looking for stuff like that. I think there are better things we can do with our time, like training to react to fire or" improvised explosive devices.

The sergeant said he's never taken the issue up with his sergeant first class directly — because the staff noncommissioned officer is usually too busy yelling at him to get his hands out of his pockets. He said the fact that civilians find all of this to be crazy serves as a reminder that everyday military life is sometimes strange.

Some midgrade enlisted leaders believe keeping your hands out of your pockets makes you squared away, Josh B. said. "But I consider being squared away being able to do all your battle drills proficiently," he added. "Not getting on troops who have their hands in their pockets."

The Air Force prohibits airmen from standing or walking with their hands in their pockets, except to "insert or remove an item," according to AFI 36-2903, which governs dress and appearance.

The sergeant and his comrades got the idea to start the petition after the recent string of petitions for states to secede from the U.S. In November, the signature threshold on a petition for Texas secession was reached, requiring the White House to consider it.

This hands-in-pockets petition was still about 22,453 signatures away from that threshold as of Nov. 21. The deadline is Dec. 14, and the sergeant said the supporters hope the response comes straight from the president.

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