Trudeau’s hippy look for military uniform is shamefulReflecting on our Forces’ new, hyper-casual uniform policy, one might see it as a naive attempt to conjure interest among radical millennial fringe lifestyles that never have, and likely never will, consider the Forces a career
. Or, maybe letting some non-binary male military police sergeant or armoured soldier wear a female skirt with their newly long pink hair and prominent face tattoo (yes, all that is possible now) is an attempt to weed out more professionally conservative members of the Forces.
‘Cause what do crusty, old, pavement-pounding, squared away veterans like me know about the meaning of image and military professionalism, eh?Nonetheless, Trudeau’s new hippy military is imploring serving members to hang loose, literally and figuratively, hoping millennials will be enticed to dig the military’s groovy new vibes
. No longer to be reprimanded (or charged) for publicly chewing gum, smoking, eating, holding hands, slouching or walking with hands in pocket, our groovy new Forces in their customizable and self-accessorized military clothing can chill and hang in public. Far out! No longer required to keep their hair short and neat, new military recruits right up to generals will also be free to grow and colour-customize their hair in any unnatural colour. Anyone can sport a face tattoo or a variety of personalized jewellery. Men can even now wear a woman’s uniform skirt!Whatever conceivable good intentions might be behind the new policy, it will inevitably leave the Canadian public, and any aspiring recruit, with the impression there is something shameful with wearing the traditional Canadian military uniform
. Whether you support the military or not, the standard professional image conjured in most individual minds (accurate or not) is one of rigidity, conformity, and socially conservative manners and bearing. Whether it was the unpopular “greens” of the old unified Canadian Armed Forces or the “tan” versions the army wore as their summer dress in the 1990s, or the old garrison work dress, or the navy “whites” or standard field combats, it didn’t matter. The uniform was the uniform and the person who had the privilege — yes, privilege — of wearing it had to not only press, shine and maintain their uniforms to strict standards, but their personal deportment, grooming, bearing and manners had to be maintained along strict and uncompromising guidelines.
This strict conformity never was meant to make the military member’s life miserable — it aimed to instil a self-conscious pride, maturity and belief that one was a part of something unique and special. The hope was that a standard professional image and culture of expression would correspondingly bring collective cohesion and esprit de corps should war or some other disaster come
During the 1990s and beyond, I began to see some incremental moves toward a more casual look for the Forces. Combats (fatigues) which were once strictly for the field seem to have largely pushed aside more formal office attire. Today we see casual, comfortable field combats in administrative offices, in the media press rooms and at ceremonial military events. Hair and dress regulations for women also have been relaxed.
I never have and never will dispute the ongoing need to make changes and modifications to dress policy and protocol to accommodate matters of operational necessity, pregnancy or religious accommodation. But popular lifestyle “fads” among youth do not deserve the same level of respect and compromise
But, maybe I am all wrong and the military’s new casual, self-customizable look is the way of the future. Perhaps I was just brainwashed by the old Cold War army ethos of the 1980s into thinking that drill, dress and deportment were fundamental to a military’s image, cohesion and morale. So maybe once the new hyper-casual dress code comes into effect this September, millennials will actually be lining up in droves to enlist, serve and fight?
Regardless, something positive will have to very quickly come out of the new hyper-casual dress code before the inevitable standup comedians and cartoonists in Canada and elsewhere inevitably start mocking Trudeau’s new Hippy Army.
– Robert Smol is a retired military intelligence officer who proudly wore the traditional, professional Canadian Armed Forces uniform for more than 20 years. [email protected]https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/smol-trudeaus-hippy-look-for-military-uniform-is-shameful