Posted on Oct 31, 2014
CPT Platoon Leader
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The day I turned my chevrons in for gold bars I noticed something. All the officers I've ever seen never wore marksmanship badges in dress uniforms. I just assumed they were unauthorized for officers and removed it voluntarily. I honestly never desired to wear the badge (probably because I was only ever a sharpshooter), but I haven't found any documentation specifically preventing officers from wearing them. Do you think officers should wear them?
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COL Jason Smallfield, PMP, CFM, CM
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A few points on officers and marksmanship badges.
- Authority to wear. No reg that I am aware of that prohibits officers from wearing marksmanship badges.
- Culture. Officer culture is not to wear markmanship badges.
- Logic 1. NCO domain is individual while officer domain is collective generally speaking. One reason why officers are armed with pistols rather than rifles is because our primary weapon is a radio and our primary purpose is to integrate and synchronize a fight (lead it) rather than to be an individual Soldier in the fight. This logic might be the driver on the culture that I note above.
- Logic 2. Tied to above but what good is officer who is an expert shooter but who can not provide purpose, motivation, and direction to his/her formation? Can/should officers be experts on the weapons and systems within their formations? Yes but their focus should be on integrating and synchronizing these weapons and systems. Enlisted and NCOs should be the experts on the individual weapon or systems employment.
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Capt Jeff S.
Capt Jeff S.
5 mo
I suspect the Army Officer culture of not wearing something you are entitled to wear has something to do with officers not wanting the troops to know they aren't very good shots. You can say it's about leading, but I'm not sure I buy it. MAJ Jay Callahalm didn't seem to have any reason for not wanting people to see his badges and if I was his troop, I could respect that -- even if he were a sharpshooter and not expert. I'd rather follow someone that at least was a known quantity in the sense that I could be confident they knew were proficient with a gun and were capable of taking the fight to the enemy right along side me in the worst case scenario.

Now I could be wrong about the whole culture thing but I come from a culture where transparency was expected and if you were a bad shot, you still had to wear. Unless things changed, Marine Officers are expected to wear everything. I heard you didn't have to wear every ribbon if you had a bunch but I didn't have that problem. I was a rifle and pistol expert and only had 3 ribbons when I got selected to be an Officer.

Generally, for functions, the uniform would be described in a publication from the head shead and if it said ribbons and badges, you showed up with ribbons -- and badges were not optional; you showed up with badges too. If you're not a good shot, you aren't going to be as competitive as your peers (all other things equal).

There's a certain amount of respect when the troops know you are technically and tactically proficient and capable of leading them from the front, and equally capable of watching their back and supporting them with well aimed rounds should it come to that.
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SGT Larry Benson
SGT Larry Benson
5 mo
I like the answer sir. The Officers job is to point us where, when and who; NCO's will take it from there and point the expert marksmen appropriately.
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SFC Timothy Ross
SFC Timothy Ross
4 mo
Wow, things must have really changed. Used to be the most dangerous man on earth was a Platoon SGT with a radio. Just saying.
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SFC Timothy Ross
SFC Timothy Ross
4 mo
SGT Larry Benson - Used to be the Platoon SGT job and the LT would be moving with squads, because the PLT SGT has the most experience. Some where between 1975 to 1986 This was reversed. Seemed really stupid and actually was. But that was then not sure what you all are doing now a days.
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CW3 Harvey K.
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Edited >1 y ago
Before my enlistment in the Army, I served in the Marine Corps. The Corps has a principle that every Marine, regardless of rank or MOS, is first and foremost a rifleman. That principle of universality of primary duty extends all the way to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, who shows the way by firing for qualification with all the other Marines under his command.
After my appointment as a Warrant Officer in the Army, I continued the tradition of the Corps, and wore my rifle and pistol badges proudly. I could not help but think that my fellow officers were either non-qualifiers, or ashamed of their low level of skill with the primary tools of our Military.
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CW3 Harvey K.
CW3 Harvey K.
9 mo
Good to hear about that kind of determination. The marksmanship methods we were taught were, naturally enough, methods that the vast majority would be able to use in becoming competent shooters. However, there are some who DON'T take to those "1 size fits all" methods. I was one of those myself, and had to learn MY way of shooting that worked right for me.
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SSgt David M.
SSgt David M.
6 mo
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I was proud to wear all my badges and awards. My Late Dad (CWO3) wore his badges and awards on all his uniforms. He was acting CO at his last duty station prior to Retirement in 1969. I always wanted to follow in my Dad's footsteps but soon became disenchanted with the way promotions were handed out. I do not regret my time serving in the US Army, US Army Reserve or the US Air Force Reserve. Here is my late Dad's retirement photo. I Salute All My Fellow Veterans!!! GOD Bless America!!!
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LTC Peter Leonard
LTC Peter Leonard
5 mo
I too served as an enlisted Marine prior to WO?CWO in the Army and the CO in the army, Always wore mine................
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SPC Matthew Birkinbine
SPC Matthew Birkinbine
2 mo
Cpl Dick Reinbold some of the best leaders I’ve known and worked with are former Marines.
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LTC Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear Officer
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506
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I see this as being an additional disconnect between Officers and Enlisted. The bottom line is that we are all Soldiers and the badges represent the maintaining of our Soldier skills.
Perhaps it is time to break the recent tradition of Officers not wearing the skill badges that we have all earned as one Army.
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LTC Ernest Edge
LTC Ernest Edge
11 mo
BG Donald Currier Yes sir! It has been only recently (after 2007?) that the Army followed the playbook of the Marines in that we are all trained as Infantry first before going in the our respective MOS training. As such it is imperative that our skills are maintained The modern battlefield is not linear with the front being “over there”. Officers need to maintain the ability to not just lead, but to fight.
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CW4 Peter McHugh
CW4 Peter McHugh
6 mo
One would then want to ask whether officers should also wear their enlisted earned "mechanics" skills or other such badges???
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CW5 Roger Jacobs
CW5 Roger Jacobs
4 mo
CW4 Peter McHugh - good point! Some of these qualification badges fall in precedence if you have wings and combat badges, things like weapons qualification, Recondo, mechanics badges just don't make the cut.
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CW4 Peter McHugh
CW4 Peter McHugh
4 mo
Hooorah .... for some of us, there just isn't room ........ but worn or not, pride never fades!
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