‘You’re an ambassador 24/7’
The post’s top noncommissioned officer intends to change that.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald S. Pflieger, U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon command sergeant major, says he wants everyone on Fort Gordon to understand and adhere to the policy, which establishes military and civilian dress standards on post. He’s taking his message to service members, civilians and family members across the installation.
“This is a Fort Gordon policy letter by the commanding general (Maj. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson), enforceable by everyone on the installation and again, it applies to everyone on the installation,” said Signal Corps Regimental Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald S. Pflieger. “Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, family members, dependents, guests, and civilians (who are visiting Fort Gordon) - it applies to everybody. This is a military installation, and we’re about being professionals.”
Pflieger says being a professional is about meeting the standards, which are as important at home as they are when deployed.
“A disciplined unit in garrison is a disciplined unit in combat. It’s the little things that get you into trouble. If we can pay attention to detail to small things in garrison we won’t have those same problems when we’re deployed in combat or visiting a foreign land,” he said.
The policy memorandum outlines general appearance guidelines on how to wear the duty uniform, the physical fitness uniform – the latter of which is not authorized for wear in facilities or activities on the installation except for gymnasiums and when conducting physical fitness training – body piercings (not authorized for wear by service members in military uniform or civilian attire on this installation or any other installation), and civilian attire, to including hats.
The policy is a living document; it can be revised as needed. For example, at press time, a revision was under way regarding gym attire. Shirts such as tank tops and sleeveless shirts with excessive arm openings (from shoulder to waist) were previously not authorized for wear. However, shirts with this particular type of arm opening will be approved for wear while exercising inside a gymnasium.
“You’re an example, you’re a service member; you’re an ambassador 24/7 regardless of where you are at the moment,” said Pflieger. “Civilians off post don’t differentiate between a sergeant major and a private first class. They see – if someone is not meeting the standard – a Soldier who is messed up. They don’t differentiate between services. It could be a Sailor who is incorrectly wearing their blue camouflage uniform and it’s always, ‘Hey, a Fort Gordon Soldier is not meeting the standard’.”
Pflieger said the feedback he’s received from family members has been a mixed reaction.
“A lot of the family members think it’s about time that we start enforcing standards,” he said, “and then there are some who think, ‘I’m a civilian; I can wear whatever I want.’”
To that, the command sergeant major simply says, “Well, you’re on a federal installation that’s governed - at times - by a different set of rules.”
What it boils down to is using common sense.
“If you have to second guess yourself when you’re about to walk out the door, maybe you shouldn’t wear it,” said Pflieger.
According to Pflieger, the standards are often misunderstood or misinterpreted. However, help is available - the courtesy patrol.
Comprised of two noncommissioned officers, the courtesy patrol roves the installation and the local community on weekends to ensure the standard is being met. They are not law enforcement personnel; rather, they are experienced NCOs who are on hand to provide guidance and remedy a potentially negative situation before it escalates into something worse.
“ We imp lemen ted courtesy patrol to create a command presence out there,” said Pflieger. “I like calling it command presence. Are they out there and making corrections? Yes. But making corrections, that’s everybody’s job. Courtesy patrol wasn’t set up just to fix those little uniform violations. Courtesy patrol is command presence. It’s another set of eyes and ears out there for the commander, and it gears toward the morale and discipline of the unit and the installation as a whole. Our off-post partners love seeing them out there.”
There have been times when they’ve been called in to assist with service members who may have been acting inappropriately at a local establishment.
“ They’ve probably saved a few careers already because they’re not a police force,” said Pflieger. “They’re somebody to call if you need assistance. The other thing courtesy patrol or command presence does is, as they walk past an establishment – maybe off post or even in the mall – the service members may think twice about doing something that may compromise themselves.”
“We put this policy in place to re-instill professionalism,” he said. “There’s an expectation when you come on to a military installation that things are kind of dress right dress; there’s a level of professionalism that’s expected.”
Similar policy letters are in place at installations across the Army to include Fort Polk, La., Fort Carson, Colo., Fort Shafter, Hawaii, and Fort Hood, Texas.
Dress and appearance areas of emphasis
Duty uniform: • Wear the complete uniform of the day and wear it properly on and off the installation. If the uniform is not properly worn and complete when entering the installation access will be denied.
Military headgear will be worn at all times while outdoors unless in a designated ‘no hat, no salute area’. Sport-style hats are not to be worn backward or sideways inside post facilities. Service members may remove their headgear while in a privately owned vehicle.
Physical fitness uniforms:
• The PT uniform is not authorized for wear in any facilities on Fort Gordon except for gymnasiums and when conducting physical fitness training. The only exception is when the uniform is required for hospital appointments and when using installation gas stations and using the pay at the pump option.
• Service members in uniform will not use their cell phones in any capacity while walking. Ear pieces of any type are not authorized for wear in any uniform.
Civilian dress attire:
• Short sleeve shirts for men and women must be conservative and designed to be worn as an outer garment. Shorts for men and women must be of conservative length suitable for casual wear and designed to be worn as an outer garment. Bathing suits are not authorized for wear as outer garments in public areas except areas designated for swimming.
• Clothing that is ripped, torn, dirty or foul. Clothing that features printing, insignia or pictures which are sexual, violent, offensive, obscene or suggestive in nature or promotes illegal activities, or depicts derogatory social, religious, racial or ethnic messages.