Navy allows sailors to put hands in pockets as hell freezes over

Don't stop believing.
Jeff Schogol Avatar
navy hands in pockets
(Task & Purpose composite image)

The Navy has updated its uniform policy so that sailors are now allowed to put their hands in their pockets.

Now take a deep breath.

“The restriction on placing hands in pockets while in uniform is rescinded,” according to Navy Administrative Message 031/24, which was released on Wednesday. “Sailors are authorized to have hands in their pockets when doing so does not compromise safety nor prohibit the proper rendering of honors and courtesies.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti made clear on Wednesday that the change had taken effect by posting an Instagram message showing her and other sailors with their hands firmly in their pockets – something that would have been unthinkable just 24 hours before.

“Your leaders are listening to you,” Franchetti wrote in the Instagram post, “And these uniform changes are just one example of quality of life changes were making… more to come!”

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It is without hyperbole to say that news that sailors can finally place their hands in their pockets without fear of being reprimanded is the biggest development to hit the Navy since it adopted ironclads during the Civil War.

Putting your hands in your pockets, as anyone who has spent a day in military service well knows, has long been a point of contention between discipline-lacking junior troops and supervisors prone to micromanagement. Though front pockets are almost universally present on military uniforms for all services, they have historically been off limits as a place to keep hands warm — or just parked — in all branches.

For many service members, the ability to put one’s hands in his or her pockets without getting chewed out has been forbidden fruit, along with walking on the grass.

In a 2012 news story, the Navy explained why sailors were strictly prohibited from warming their hands in their pockets because the service’s uniform regulations clearly stated at the time that doing so was “inappropriate and detracts from military smartness.”

Among the well-chronicled illicit pocket-enjoyers in military history were Supreme Allied Commander Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, Sgt. Elvis Presley and one-time Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. Photos courtesy U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy.

Yet famous military leaders have long been shown in pictures with their hands in their pockets, including Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led the Allies to victory in Europe, became president, and begat our nation’s highway system.

Even Elvis Presley, who was taught to dance by a young Forrest Gump, was pictured with one of his hands in his uniform pocket during his stint in the Army.

Until now, on Wednesday, February 14, the Navy gave sailors a Valentine’s Day gift that will be savored for years.

Now that the unthinkable has happened, is it possible that women in the Navy can finally wear blue nail polish? Or will male sailors eventually be allowed to grow beards again? Nothing is certain, but the door appears to be open to future wonders and miracles.

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