A poster publicized by Fort Irwin, Calif., shows soldiers what's off limits. (National Training Center Fort Irwin Facebook image)
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It’s time for saggy pantsed and suggestively attired soldiers, civilians and family members at Fort Irwin, Calif., to straighten up.
Baggy pants, do-rags, belly shirts, pajamas, ripped jeans and visible thong underwear are forbidden attire in public, according to the post’s new dress code for off-duty troops, which was posted to the garrison Facebook page on Monday. The new policy directs managers of post facilities, like gyms and shops, to deny service to anyone wearing the offending gear.
“Clothing with obscene, slanderous, drug paraphernalia or related statements, vulgar words or drawings, sexually suggestive [clothes] or clothing which makes disparaging comments concerning the military and the United states government is prohibited,” the notice reads. “By order of the commander.”
Now, some on Fort Irwin are lashing out over a policy they see as an infringement on personal freedoms.
Some, like Amber Mooney, an Army wife on the post, took to Facebook to express their displeasure.
“The good news is that I have ordered several burqas (all in black as not to offend those who are sensitive to color) and I’ll be able to use all of the facilities on post in the near future without harassment,” she said.
The installation of about 9,000 people houses the Fort Irwin National Training Center and is located 40 miles from Barstow, in the Mojave Desert. Col. Jonathan P. Braga, the garrison commander, initiated the policy, according to a post spokesperson.
The policy followed “an accumulative violation of discipline and individual pride,” not a single act, according to the Facebook post, which a spokesperson attributed to Command Sgt. Major Dale Perez, the garrison’s senior enlisted official.
“When it comes to off-duty attire, what might be offensive to you may be just normal clothing to some,” Perez said in the post. “It takes discipline to be a professional, and to be a professional it’s a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week way of life.”
The dress code is intended to foster dignity, respect, professionalism and standards appropriate to a training installation, said Pamela Portland, the director of communications for Fort Irwin and the NTC.
“This is what we use Facebook for, to have a dialogue,” Portland said. “The command welcomes any and all comments.”
Ame Esterline, another Fort Irwin Army wife, said it was unfair to regulate the attire of people, when many have no choice but to live on the isolated post. She said the policy has appeared in public buildings without specifying whether it applies to family members and civilians as well as soldiers. If it includes everyone, she asked, how would it be enforced?
“What if I’m not a soldier, does this give people the ability to embarrass me because they think I am a soldier and don’t like my clothes,” Esterline said. “It opens up a bigger can of worms and I don’t think they really understood what they were doing.”
Others complained that the poster itself, which has pictures depicting the banned attire, was sexually suggestive and harassing.
“I am not complaining about this being enforced, I am complaining about the beautiful pictures they decided to post,” Sophia Garcia, of Fort Irwin, said in a Facebook comment. “There are other ways to go about this without the crazy underwear booty short pictures.”
But some felt the policy was long overdue. By early Tuesday, the notice had more than 100 “likes.”
“Thank you for the new policy,” said Robert Lange, whose Facebook profile identifies him as a tank commander at Fort Irwin. “I think every military installation needs to do the same thing.”