Marine Corps ends ban on 'Killed in Action' bracelets
The Marine Corps has ended its controversial ban on bracelets honoring U.S. troops killed in combat.
Until Tuesday, bracelets honoring U.S. troops killed in combat were considered unauthorized jewelry according to Marine Corps uniform orders.
Commandant Gen. Jim Amos announced Tuesday that Marines in uniform are now authorized to wear so-called killed-in-action bracelets recognizing friends who've fallen in combat or died from wounds sustained on the battlefield. The policy is effective immediately.
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Additional guidance detailing "standardization and uniformity" will be sent to Marines by the end of the week, the Marine Corps said in a statement.
"We are acknowledging the close, personal nature of our 10 years at war and the strong bonds of fidelity that Marines have for one another, especially for those fellow Marines who we have lost," Amos said in a statement.
Marine Corps Times first reported last week that commanders had begun cracking down on Marines who wear the bracelets, which until now were considered unauthorized jewelry under the service's stringent uniform regulations. However, enforcement was spotty and the uproar from Marines of all ranks was extremely vocal.
The commandant was swayed, in part, after a recommendation was made to him last week during a meeting of the service's senior general officers, Marine officials said in the statement. A visit Monday to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., apparently sealed the deal.
There, Amos and his top enlisted adviser, Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett, welcomed home members of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan's northern Helmand province. The infantry unit saw intense combat in the Upper Gereshk Valley and Nahr-e Saraj district, areas just south of volatile Sangin district. Five members of the battalion died as a result of the violence there.
While at Twentynine Palms, the commandant observed several Marines wearing KIA bracelets, said a Marine official who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to discuss the visit. Amos inquired about their significance and received positive feedback, the official said.
KIA bracelets worn by Marines vary in design. Some are made of rubber, but most are metal.
They're nearly identical to bracelets commemorating prisoners of war and troops missing in action. POW/MIA bracelets have been authorized under the Marine Corps' uniform regulations dating to the Vietnam War. More than 82,000 U.S. troops are still unaccounted for going back to World War II.
Unlike past conflicts, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have not produced the same numbers of POW and MIA cases. Today, there are just two U.S. troops listed as missing or captured in action in Afghanistan or Iraq: Army Staff Sgt. Ahmed K. Altaie and Army Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl.
Marines are still authorized to wear POW/MIA bracelets, Marine officials sa