In boot camp, recruits spend hours carefully fine-tuning their uniforms, as each is custom to the person who wears it. Each garment is individually hemmed and every medal is measured for absolute accuracy.
To test service members, each branch holds uniform inspections in order to maintain military standards. Although we all learned how to groom our uniform, the uniform inspectors commonly find “hits,” or mistakes, during the inspections.
To help you pass inspection, we’ve put together a list of common hits and how you can avoid them.
1. Fingerprint scuffs on medals and your belt buckle
We continually adjust and readjust ourselves in hopes of getting that perfect inspection score. No one wants to fail because they touched their belt buckle with an oily finger five minutes before standing in formation.
Look into getting thin gloves to use as you adjust yourself and your fellow troops’ uniforms — you wouldn’t want them to fail either.
2. Holes from previous ranks
Lower enlisted (E1-E4) are required to apply their gold ranks on the collars of their white dress shirts. To do so, you must poke two holes in the shirt. Once this soldier becomes an NCO, their rank is no longer displayed on their collar, but rather on their epaulets. Now, the soldier is left with two distinct black holes in the collar — that’s a hit.
When the time comes, you’ll need to dip into your clothing allowance and purchase a new shirt.
3. Clean shaves
In the military, unless your MOS states otherwise, you’re supposed to shave every day. During an inspection, your face is the first thing the inspector looks at. They’ll go in for a closer look to check to see if you cut down every hair on your face.
Some service members have such dark beards that they get 5 o’clock shadows before noon. That could be a hit.
Quick fix: Shave often.
4. Wrong dress socks
You would think that wearing any black dress socks during inspection is okay. The truth is, you have to wear ones that fall within regulation. Inspectors know these regulations inside and out, and they’ll deduct points for wearing the wrong socks.
Quick fix: Keep the right pair of black socks in your polished dress shoes at all times.
5. Those Irish pennants
The threads on our uniforms break often and fall out of line — sticking out like sore thumbs. Those ugly and out-of-place threads are called “Irish pennants.” If an inspector sees one or two, they’ll usually issue an immediate hit. Too many can result in a fail.
Examine yourself and carry a set of small scissors or nail clippers to cut them off before they become a real problem.
6. A lopsided ribbon rack
A ribbon rack is used to showcase a troop’s accomplishments. The problem is, they’re too straight and don’t conform to the natural contour of a service member’s chest — at all. Typically, the service member will place their uniform on a flat surface and measure the ribbon rack against their chest pocket, if they have one.
The problem is, once the troop dons the uniform, the fabric shifts like any other piece of clothing and all your hard measuring was for nothing.
Quick fix: Have your battle buddy help you properly adjust your ribbon rack before the inspection. That is all.