Friday, June 13, 2014

Humor in Uniforms - FRIDAY DRESSING

Humour in Uniforms – Part 1

FRIDAY DRESSING

ARE COMBAT UNIFORMS COMBAT-WORTHY?
Ramblings of a Retired Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. Please read this article only if you have a sense of humor. This yarn is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)


FRIDAY DRESSING – Humour in Uniforms by Vikram Karve

When I saw Colonel “X” all decked up in his “combat uniform” I remembered a story from CATCH 22 – the all time classic satirical war novel by Joseph Heller.

A memorandum on “appropriate military attire in combat areas” is issued by General Peckem (who is in charge of “Special Services” which includes everything except combat).

General Peckem recommends that all aircrew be sent into combat in full-dress ceremonial uniform so that they will make a good impression on the enemy when they are shot down.

Seeing Colonel “X” who looked like a riot of colour in his dazzling “combat uniform” – with his red and gold collar tabs, rows of colourful medal ribbons and numerous gaudy badges and emblems of all sizes and shapes adorning both sides of his chest and arms, accoutrements and ornamental regalia embellishing the impressive fabric imprinted with attractive camouflage design – it seemed more of a fashionable ceremonial uniform than a simple combat uniform.

“Why are you wearing such a flashy uniform?” I asked Colonel “X”.

“This is our “combat uniform”, Colonel “X” said.

“I know – but why you wearing this uniform in IAT – there is no combat going on here – except the perpetual “combat” between Uniformed Service Officers and Civilian Scientists,” I quipped.

“We have to wear combat dress on Fridays,” Colonel “X” said.

“Oh – so it is like the “Friday Dressing” they have in the corporate sector,” I said.

Earlier, in some offices like Naval Headquarters (NHQ) and inter-service establishments, we had a “Mufti Day” on Fridays where you could wear civvies to office.

We used to dress casually and wear open collar tucked-in shirts or tucked-out bush shirts or safari suits and feel relaxed.

I believe that later some “killjoy” (like General Peckem of Catch-22) made wearing of neckties compulsory and destroyed the “casual” joy of Friday dressing.

To get back to the subject of combat uniform, I remember that in the navy we had a simple combat uniform called Dress No. 10 comprising sober looking greyish-khaki coloured shirt and trousers made of cotton.

In order to ensure that the uniform was fire-resistant and non-inflammable, there were no synthetic or metallic accoutrements – no ribbons, no badges, no belt, even no name tallies (the names and action stations were written by black marking ink on the cotton fabric).

Sometime in the 1980’s this simple and most apt khaki coloured pure cotton uniform, suitable for the tropics, was changed to blue colour – light blue shirt and navy blue trouser (maybe to imitate the Royal Navy).

I remember a hilarious episode when our ship returned from a long operational deployment, and everyone on our ship was dressed in Khaki No. 10’s.

Sailors on most alongside ships and shore establishments were dressed in the new Blue No. 10’s about which we did not have a clue.

We were rudely told that we were “out of rig” and we were asked to get the new pattern Blue No. 10 uniforms stitched fast.

Soon, everyone started using terry-cot fabric instead of pure cotton, and then, accouterments like name tallies, medal ribbons, badges and emblems, blue belts made of synthetic material and metallic crested buckles were added – now the uniform was no longer fire resistant and neither was it non-inflammable.

Soon everyone started wearing this blue uniform everywhere instead of white No. 8/8A, probably because blue was easy to maintain than white which had to be washed daily.

(The earlier Khaki cotton uniform was worn only while working on ships while the new blue terry-cot uniform was worn all over)

Someone told me, that like they do in the Army, you now have “Friday Dressing” in the NHQ too with sailors trying to match the pongos in wearing “ceremonial combat uniform” – it won’t be long before the Air Force joins the bandwagon of “Friday Dressing” too (unless they already have – by the way, the Air Force too used to wear Khaki uniform till the 1980’s and then they changed over to blue, maybe to imitate the RAF).

In conclusion, can some veteran please tell us:

What is the need for “ceremonial combat uniform”?

Shouldn’t combat uniforms be combat-worthy?

Why is there an increasing tendency to “show off” with so much regalia on daily wear working uniform?

Why not keep uniforms simple like the Navy Dress No. 8 (white half-sleeved shirt and shorts without any medal ribbons, badges, emblems and paraphernalia)?

Shouldn’t military uniforms have “utility value” rather than “ornamental value”?

Do tell us what you feel.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)
 
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