Here is something that might be interesting to an outside observer. On Joint Base Balad, and all through Iraq, there are all sorts of rules, regulations, and policies that apply to US personnel. There is much discussion in the news of things like the agreements between the Government of Iraq and US Forces, such as the withdrawal of forces from cities which happened in June. But less noticed are the rules that are circulated by email several times every week to us here in Iraq.

 Here is a document entitled “General Rules For Trailers on JBB”. Pretty much everyone lives in trailers here on JBB, although some live in tents temporarily. Reading this list of rules, one can only imagine the trouble that has happened after violations:

 General Rules For Trailers on JBB

Another one that is the subject of constant debate is the policy governing the wear of uniforms. Here it is:

 MNF-I Uniform Policy -May 2009

We are always in uniform here, military are not allowed to go around in civilian clothes unless there is some special reason to do so. I’ve spent every single day of my life here wearing my uniform (ACU’s (Army Combat Uniform, the normal duty uniform) or PT’s (physical training)), which is nice because I don’t have to think about which tie to wear with which shirt like I do back home. But there are some strange rules too. My pet peeve is the boonie hat. It’s a large, floppy hat that provides great sun protection.  This is important, as the blazing sunshine can burn you quickly, and the patrol hat does not provide adequate protection.  You are not allowed to have your name on the boonie hat, which is different from the regular patrol hat. You may have your rank on the boonie hat. Apparently some unit came in with hundreds of guys all having their names on their boonie hats, and this caused a great commotion with the end result being that someone high up ordered everyone to take off their sewn-on name tapes, resulting in the waste of hundreds of dollars of the soldiers’ money. The boonie hat is specifically addressed in this policy memo. In case you can’t picture it, here’s me in a boonie hat:

 Boonie Hat

Another interesting dispute is whether women can wear one or two-piece swimsuits. After a huge dispute, involving several high-ranking people, the rule finally came out that Army women must wear one-piece swimsuits, Air Force can wear conservative two-piece suits. Not sure what the Navy or Marine Corps women, or civilians, can wear. Last I checked, there was a sign at the pool threatening punishment for any woman wearing a two-piece, which I understand has since been taken down.

 Finally, here is a strange policy. Civilians employed directly by the US government used to wear uniforms. They had special name tapes, for example “DA Civilian” in the place where it says “US Army” and a “US” instead of rank. Sometimes they’d wear old DCU’s (desert combat uniform) I had no problem with this, but apparently someone else did:

 MNF-I Uniform Memo for civilian employees

Some policies make great sense. For example, no wearing headphones outside, because you might not hear a vehicle approaching you, or a warning. The “no name tape on boonie hat” policy, on the other hand, is one that, to quote Forrest Gump, “just don’t make no sense.”


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