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So far 63 percent of Soldiers surveyed like 'Ike' jacket

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 11, 2015) -- Preliminary results show that a majority of Soldiers want a chance to wear the Ike jacket for dress and black socks for physical training, but a survey on proposed uniform changes has been extended until Aug. 31.

Last month, 120,000 active-duty, Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers were offered the opportunity to opine, online, regarding new uniform options.

The Eisenhower jacket has been proposed as a more appropriate indoor alternative to the black windbreaker jacket. Named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower and designed in the late 1930s, the jacket is waist-cropped, includes additional pockets and does not require many adornments. The last modification of the shortened, British-inspired jacket was seen in 1965. The survey asks Soldiers' opinion of a version of it for all ranks.

While 10 percent of those who were offered the opportunity to participate logged in and voiced their opinion, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey wants a more "robust response" from Soldiers before making any further recommendations.

"It's a healthy survey sample, but I'd like to be sure it's what most Soldiers want before we move forward," Dailey said. He directed the survey period be extended for an additional two weeks.

Approximately 120,000 Soldiers were initially offered the option to voice their opinion on the uniform survey. A second email was sent Aug. 10 to those same Soldiers offering additional time to participate in the survey if they have not already voted.

The Army has a mechanism in place to prevent the same individual from voting more than once. The link contained in the latest email will only work for those who have not already logged on to the survey site.

"This survey reflects Soldier uniform suggestions collected by the sergeant major of the Army [SMA] ưand other senior enlisted leaders over the last six months," reads the email invitation to Soldiers, which asks them to participate in the survey. "As the SMA prepares to make recommendations to either the Army Uniform Board or the Army chief of staff on these suggestions, he wants to know what you think. Your votes will be tallied and used to inform the final decisions on possible changes to the wear and appearance of Army uniforms."

Preliminary results from the first two weeks of tabulation have been released.

The first survey question asked Soldiers their opinion on the wear of black socks, rather than white socks, with the Army Physical Fitness uniform. Of the 12,050 Soldiers who answered the question, 66.7 percent - or 8,032 Soldiers - voiced support for the wear of black socks.

In regards to the "Eisenhower jacket," 62.8 percent agreed that purchase and wear should be an option, but not a requirement, for Soldiers.

Dailey has also received positive feedback on the Eisenhower Jacket from outside the confines of the survey respondents.

"The veteran community is really excited about the nostalgia aspect of the 'Ike' jacket," Dailey said.

The Army currently has two "campaign hats" for drill sergeants. Campaign hats for male drill sergeants feature a flat brim all the way around the hat. For female drill sergeants, the brim is folded up on the wearer's left side. The Army asked if there should be a "single style of headgear for all drill sergeants." More than 60 percent of Soldiers, who responded to the question, said "yes."

Another question regarding headgear asked if there should be a single style of service cap for all Soldiers. In particular, the Army wanted to know if the "bus driver hat" should be authorized for both male and female Soldiers. According to the survey, 66.7 percent of Soldiers said "yes" to that question.

The first four survey questions, regarding socks, the Eisenhower jacket, the campaign hat for drill sergeants and the service cap, involve changes to uniform policy that would require no cost for the Army.

Black socks would be an authorized purchase for Soldiers, for instance. The Eisenhower jacket would not be a required uniform item - it would be manufactured by companies outside the Army, and would be an optional, not required, uniform item.

The Army would not need to buy the Eisenhower jacket for Soldiers. Soldiers would instead buy it on their own, if they wanted it. Finally, for the campaign hat and the service cap, these items are already in the Army inventory. The Army would not need to create a new item for Soldiers.

One additional question on the uniform survey asks if the blue service cap should be required headgear for use when wearing the Army Service Uniform, for senior noncommissioned officers, officers and warrant officers. A little more than half of Soldiers, or 55.8 percent, said yes to that question.

For the question regarding the blue service cap, making the cap a requirement for Soldiers, who are E-7 and above, could incur a cost to the Army, as the Army would need to provide the cap or an allowance to at least some Soldiers.

"Additional analysis will be used before a final decision is made on any item that could result in a cost to the Army," an Army official said.

Dailey agreed fiscal responsibility is paramount to any decision on uniform changes.

"Being good stewards of the tax-payers' money is critically important," Dailey said. "While we value Soldiers' preferences and opinions on uniforms, we must always consider how any changes could affect our bottom line."

Dailey plans to endorse the final data.

"If it's what Soldiers want, I'm all for moving the ball down the field on their behalf as long as it doesn't result in a new bill," Dailey said.

Dailey must present Soldier selections to the chief of staff and in some cases the Army Uniform Board for approval before any changes can be made. If changes are approved, Soldiers would not be able to wear new items until further instructions are provided by official means. Guidelines and timelines for wear would be released via All Army Activities, or ALARACT, messages to the force.