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US troops ordered not to wear uniforms

Published: 24 Mar 2011 16:17 GMT+01:00

US military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported on Thursday that troops in Europe had been ordered “to the maximum extent possible” to refrain from wearing their uniforms off-base, even during daily commutes, in a bid to make them less conspicuous to would-be attackers.

“The directive specifically forbids the wear of uniforms for travel between duty and domicile, short convenience stops, conduct of physical fitness, travel between installations, and off-post messing,” the US European Command (EUCOM) has told personnel, according to the paper.

The announcement comes three weeks after two US airmen were killed and two other men seriously wounded in a shooting attack on an American military bus at Frankfurt airport. A 21-year-old Muslim man of Kosovar background, Arid Uka, was arrested for the attack.

It also comes as the US takes part in air attacks on Libyan targets in an effort to stop dictator Muammar Qaddafi bombing rebels and civilians. That operation is being run by US Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart.

The order reflects the concern that military commanders hold about potential terrorist attacks on troops, many of whom wear their uniforms while grabbing lunch at local restaurants and running errands.

“You are not supposed to wear your uniform even if you are in your own car,” EUCOM spokesman Captain Ed Buclatin told the paper.

However, some questions have been raised as the effectiveness of the order, given military personnel are easy to spot whether or not they are in uniform.

“I don’t think it makes a lot of difference when I am driving my Xterra (SUV) through town,” Lt. Cmdr. Geoff Maasberg told Stars and Stripes.

“People know who all the Americans are from our haircuts and that kind of stuff, but I don’t think there is a better way to do it. I think the higher-ups are doing what they need to do, and what they think is right to help us not get shot by some crazy guy with a gun.”

Gunnery Sgt. Dennis Dougherty told the paper that having to change clothes back and forth “may be extreme,” but the directive nevertheless made sense.

“I have always thought, ‘What is stopping somebody from attacking (US service personnel) or pulling over a little bit and running them over?’ ”

The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:47 March 24, 2011 by brigand
This order seems like a fear reaction and could show a sign of US military weakness.
18:05 March 24, 2011 by idiot
In general germany dont need to see this street boys and victims of capitalism in its public.
18:10 March 24, 2011 by Gretl
Idiot - what? Your sentence doesn't make sense. Are you going to refrain from being seen in public? Not that I'd mind....

This is ridiculous. Like you can't tell who is American by the cars they drive, the stickers on their cars, the way the majority of them dress in civilian clothes, or their BMI. Now, going to the airport in a military shuttle bus? I drive my own car or rental.
18:12 March 24, 2011 by wxman
It's refreshimng to see an appropriate screen name, now and again.
18:13 March 24, 2011 by tallady
idiot, another barrage of useless and idiotic rhetoric by the class fool.
18:59 March 24, 2011 by TRJ
I like the order. I don't think for a second that it is a sign of weakness. Rather, it reflects prudence and respect for the lives of those involved. Also, the whole exercise will serve as a large reminder to the soldiers that they remain soldiers out of uniform and should behave appropriately as guests of the host nation.
19:17 March 24, 2011 by idiot
quote burgerlady:

>idiot, another barrage of useless and idiotic rhetoric by the class fool.

Uhh :D And what is this ?
19:59 March 24, 2011 by toemag
Been there in the mid 80's, due to the IRA. Still didn't stop people being killed though :-(
00:39 March 25, 2011 by Frenemy
AFRICOM has had a similar order in effect for quite a while now. I'm sorry my Ami friends, but its about time ya'll accept the fact that the US is pretty much universally hated... yes, in Western countries too, not by us, but by the dregs of the international community that our leaders are so hellbent on letting accommodating (and history suggests that building a wall ain't gonna work around here).
01:03 March 25, 2011 by ronasch
The Americans should go home and stay there.
01:52 March 25, 2011 by Frenemy
Pump your brakes @ronasch. If it weren't for our estranged cousins across the water who stepped in twice (WWI and WWII), fit as a fiddle while everyone else was totally war fatigued, we'd all be speaking Russian. You might not like the current world order, but its sure as hell better than the alternative(s).
07:08 March 25, 2011 by brigand

That was a good comment and I agree 100%. I think "GI Go Home" is a cliche and being anti-American is a sort of a fad left over from the Busch era. I look at comments like those made by "ronasch" as the sort of thing spoiled little children would say. The Americans may not be perfect, but like you said, there are worse neighbors out there.
07:23 March 25, 2011 by GTJenkins
When U.S. citizens start to realize that they are special, just like everyone else, things will be better.
08:29 March 25, 2011 by auniquecorn
U.S. Citizens are special, And the U.S.Military is the best in the world, Everybody fvck!n knows it too, Just a bunch of usless. jealous punks whining.

Get over it, Where would you and 100 million other people be today if the US did´nt stand-up to the bullies.
10:07 March 25, 2011 by trottercarriagehorse
telling of our current situation here in europe- - when wearing a uniform draws so much hostility.. lederhosen or kaiser uniform what will I wear today..? I hope no one discovers I am an american. .

I mean come on, do we really have to go into hiding..
11:19 March 25, 2011 by Gretl
Great idea, trottercarriagehouse! I look kicking in my dirndl. :)
12:14 March 25, 2011 by poppycockcoconut
Please, there was a solider in uniform dropping his kid off at the bus stop and I saw 6 more in cars on their way to work. Also saw 2 Air Force buses on the Autobahn, I'm within a few miles of 4 military bases one of which is Ramstein. I can tell the Americans by the cars they drive and the clothes they wear. You can also hear them from miles away.
12:36 March 25, 2011 by Conan the Librarian
You'll find that the higher echelons have received 'intelligence' regarding a specific current threat. They are not obliged to announce what the threat is, but are obliged to act on behalf of the people in which they are responsible. With the security situation being constantly reviewed, it may be found to be only a temporary measure due to its impracticalities.

As far as hiding is concerned, admittedly, there are certain signs which give military personnel away, but there's not much more confirmatory than someone seen in uniform. If I was a terrorist, would I target the man I suspect to be a soldier or the one I know to be a soldier?

@ idiot, I cannot help feel that your only way of drawing any form of attention in life is by your irrelevant and childlike comments. The fact that you have chosen this alias further discredits any opinions you display in the form of written words.

@ ronasch, If only the world was as simple as you perceive it be. Maybe then we could go back to the use of stones as simple tools and embark on hunter/gatherer methods of attaining food.

Think before clicking submit!
13:07 March 25, 2011 by bentrider1955
If we could only get them to put the correct license plates on their cars!
15:05 March 25, 2011 by yolo
The Americans should be armed instead of not wearing a uniform. The mulims in Germany are creating way to many problems and the Germans are not atanding up to them. Someone needs to.
17:25 March 25, 2011 by Jollyjack
19:59 March 24, 2011 by toemag

Been there in the mid 80's, due to the IRA. Still didn't stop people being killed though :-(

You're right and we're sill feeling the effects.
18:34 March 25, 2011 by gtaglia
Absolutely stupid policy, military personnel should be always armed and capable of defending themselves, not trying to hide their idenity to avoid assault.
19:52 March 25, 2011 by Frenemy
@gtaglia: No they shouldn't. We can't have armed foreign troops roaming around Germany (that would be called an occupation force)!
07:31 March 26, 2011 by Motorhead
Sigh (and oy vey, since this has to be at least ten characters long).
08:34 March 26, 2011 by zski
For those who posted anti American sentiment above, fortunately the rest of the world, for the most part, does not share your opinion. See: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1630/obama-more-popular-abroad-global-american-image-benefit-22-nation-global-survey

(If the link doesn't come across, google "Pew Reserach" and look for their international attitudes section.)

Of note, in the latest survey, the US is looked upon favorably in:

Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Russia, Lebanon, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Kenya and Nigeria.

and unfavorably in:

Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, and Argentina.

Good luck raging your hate campaign.

Also, and order regarding wear of the uniform, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with how popular troops may be in Germany, but rather a threat, as outlined by Conan above.
09:36 March 26, 2011 by Conan the Librarian
It could still be argued why there are foreign troops on German soil in 2011. Although some of the local population may find them 'unsightly', it should be considered from the bigger picture:

These servicemen and their families are well paid and spend their wages in the restaurants, shopping centres and various other establishments around whichever garrison they are stationed. They claim little, if any benefits. They tend to be law abiding, but should they falter it is more likely to be a minor offence. Lastly, these foreign forces employ local nationals and put bread on German tables.

As easy as it is for people to discredit the Americans, it might be worth considering how many Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice since 7th December 1941, in trying to rid the world of dictators and better the life of the individual man on the street.

@gtaglia & Frenemy, there are armed foreign forces in America. It's no big deal as it is security orientated and I couldn't imagine there would be many who could recollect the last time a foreign firearm was used in anger. As far as all troops being permanently armed, it would be most impractical and unsuitable. One recent incident does not warrant such a move. To add to that, my mobile phone proves bulky and annoying at times, plus I'm forever misplacing the thing. Think of it on a pistol scale. One would also have to start wearing baggy clothes or face the wrath of armed police every time one visited the petrol station.
16:21 March 26, 2011 by Dittohd
I have the perfect solution which is not near as cumbersome as changing clothes each time they arrive and leave their work daily.. Require all the military to wear their camouflage fatigues all the time.

Problem solved!
18:28 March 26, 2011 by dizzyblondefrau
For those who hate the Americans, PLEASE don't lump "we the people" with our governmnet. Many of us strongly dislike our government and the way it is running our country into the ground and refuses to do OUR will. Americans did not want to ger involved in WWII and it was the government that did. Many Americans believe that our government allowed pearl harbour to be attacked with "advanced knowledge of the attack", to try to turn the opinion of the people. Many of us don't believe our troops should be in 135 countries around the globe either. Our government has been out of control for quite some time now and we grow more and more frustrated with it every day. We are a Constitutional Republic and we know what Freedom and Liberties we have and are trying to gain ground to regain what we've had taken from us. I just wish people around the globe didn't think of "Americans" as the enemy, when it is really "our government" that is the enemy.
20:31 March 26, 2011 by wenddiver
So now our Soldiers and Airmen will be wearing their own clothes. So I am sure the entire world will be fooled by a twenty year old wearing a t-shirt that says "Mess with the Best, die like the Rest" or "US Army-Killing Bad People since 1775", or "Special Forces are Special People" wearing Oakley sunglasses, Tan Shorts with cargo pockts and Merrell dessert tan adventure shoes.

Gosh who wouldn't be fooled by that disquise.
20:38 March 26, 2011 by ChloeBrady
@dizzyblondefrau don't apply your own anti-USG sentiments to all (or "most") Americans. Just because you hate our government (and i'm not talking about our current administration, I'm talking about our Government in general, just as you were) doesn't mean "most" Americans are as spiteful, ungrateful, and/or ignorant of our international outreach as you, and you shouldn't imply such with your post(s).

00:32 March 27, 2011 by 10YrsGone
This decision has been a long time coming. When I arrived 3 yrs ago, I was surprised to see American military personnel off post in their uniforms. Then again, American military personnel have been living in Germany and throughout Europe since 1945, so it's not as though Europeans were not use to seeing them.

To address one other issue, I'm both surprised and saddened to read so many negative comments regarding the American military personnel living in Germany. I don't want to take my comments too far, but it really is true that the USA's intervention during WWII, and it's financial and military support of Europe throughout the Cold War --- saved Europe. It gave Europe's new democracies time to grow and it saved every Western European country billions of dollars in defense costs (still does). Did the US benefit? Of course. The US economy grew from a 14% pre-WWII share of world trade to more than 45% share during the Cold War. Bottom line: for all it cost the US, it made the US rich; it made the US a rich empire.

But the US has administered a quite benevolent empire. No where in the world has the US attempted to "take over" another country. It's wars, for better or for worse, have been in defense of the democratic ideals of freedom and liberty and prosperity. And while it has supported numerous 'bad guys' since WWII, it's supported these tyrants believing that these "bastards" being our "bastards" was better than these bastards being the pawns of godless communist bastards hell-bent on taking away the god-given freedom, liberty, and prosperity presently enjoyed by so many.

All this being said...all good things must come to an end. I personally believe it is time for the United States to pull back from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The Cold War is over...let the world defend itself. I think what many will soon discover is that the blanket of security the United States has provided all these years has been pretty damn good for all involved.
16:42 March 27, 2011 by ngwanem

#but it really is true that the USA's intervention during WWII, and it's financial and military support of Europe throughout the Cold War --- saved Europe.#

you always talk as if the entire WWII effort only succeeded because of American intervention. Correction: Canada, Britain, Free French Forces, Africans (allied under the British and French commands), Gurkha(under the British) and Russia sacrificed a lot of men to free Europe from Hitler and his murderous forces. Even Russia lost a lot of Infantrymen than your Americans and as usual you steal the credits. Bah! ... and the Cold War? From who did you save Europe? You triggered the Cold War, which initiated a cycle of stupid military expenditures between the 2 powers(US and USSR)

#No where in the world has the US attempted to "take over" another country. It's wars, for better or for worse, have been in defense of the democratic ideals of freedom and liberty and prosperity#

Omg! Could you please keep your feet on the ground? This self-praise is an insult to the memory of the victims of Latin America, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

#All this being said...all good things must come to an end#

No all bad things must come to an end and that would be a good thing when such happens!
18:41 March 27, 2011 by zski

Are you on crack? I'm sure you've heard of the Lend-Lease program, which provided billions of dollars worth of aid to Britain, the Soviet Union and to a lesser degree France and China during World War II. Even Josef Stalin credited aid from the US as key to winning the war.

I don't think that saying that US contributions were vital in any way diminishes the significance of the accomplishments and sacrifices made by other countries. You could imagine the analogy that while an engine is vital to making a car run, without the tires you wouldn't go anywhere.

To say that the US triggered the cold war is so laughable I almost don't want to begin to formulate a response. But...did the US trigger the cold war in providing Marshall Plan aid (and offering it to Eastern Bloc countries who were obliged to refuse it by the Soviet Union)? God forbid we fund reconstruction of Europe.

Did the US trigger the Cold War by delivering goods to Berlin by air when the Soviet Union would not allow such goods to be delivered by ground? Without a blockade, there would have been no need for an airlift.

Did the US trigger the building of the Berlin Wall? I suppose in a completely irrational state you could argue that by providing for reconstruction and opportunity in the west, the US helped attract those under Communist rule to the west, but it seems far more reasonable to say that the Communist powers of the east effectively jailed their own populations inside their own borders.

Did the US trigger the annexation of countries neighboring Russia (the Baltics) into the USSR at the end of World War II? How?

Say what you will of the latest (mis) adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, but if you want to argue about the contributions of the US in World War II and the US (and in fact, most of the rest of the world's) triumph over Communism, please feel free to do so, as I need something to laugh about.
04:37 March 28, 2011 by dizzyblondefrau
@ChloeBrady, your comprehension level is very poor for you to totally mistake my meaning about the U.S. government. I LOVE our government the way it was set up in our wonderful CONSTITUTION and BILL OF RIGHTS. What I and many dislike IS the current administration! Where have you been? You are oblivious to the Tea Party movement? Why do you think it is constantly gaining ground?? Why do you think CPAC voted by 70% for Ron Paul for President? Where have you been that you do not know there is a revolution going on? We the people are sick and tired of high taxes and those in Washington not doing what we vote them into office to do. Do NOT tell me I hate our government, I hate the current administration and SOME of those in the past, FDR being one of them. Our Founding Father's set us up the most perfect government on earth, but Washington has been stealing powers it is NOT granted in our Constitution.

And yes MOST of Americans feel as I do, that is why the 2010 election was so awesome!! I am a true Patriot, I sure doubt you are. You sound spiteful and are the one who is ignorant.
10:12 March 28, 2011 by jmwyt1
you dont get as much attention in the news with dead people in ordinary clothes as with uniforms.
11:25 March 28, 2011 by moistvelvet
Perfectly understandable to introduce this rule. As others have said, British soldiers had to do it in the 80's/90's, wear civilian clothes, vary their routes and check their cars whenever parked outside camp for IEDs. Having left hand drive cars with German number plates did help being less of a target but it is true that you can easily spot a serviceman a mile off regardless of them wearing a uniform... or can you?

You might be able to spot them as being British or American but that does not necessarily mean they are servicemen. The point of any attack would be to kill servicemen, PIRA made it clear on at least two occasions that unless the target is clearly marked there is a risk in striking the wrong target. The shooting of two Australian tourists in Roermond and the shooting of a RAF serviceman's German wife were a blow to PIRA's American fund raising campaign.

So although I doubt any extremist is bothered about public opinion and fundraising, I suppose they would want to be sure of their target and wearing of uniform in public is just one way of giving them that assurance.
13:05 March 28, 2011 by ngwanem

it is true the masses always avoid thinking because it is uncomfortable for them to go beyond the level of checking out things. maybe you are one of them and it is more convenient to rely on mass media channels for information, because they just chew things for you to swallow and they select what to give you, lest the interest of their owners or sponsors are compromised!

in any case, check out the declassified information from the American and British governments and you would understand the concept of history being written to suit the victor, especially when it comes to stealing the minds of people or brain-feeding them, so that they never ask uncomfortable questions.

for example did you know John Foster Dulles(American Secretary of State) and Harold MacMillan (British Prime Minister) were scared of Russia developmental success during the cold war in the 60s? before gaping in fury and disbelief, check out this reference(No. 8) under this link: http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/understandingpower/chap5.htm

of particular interest on the web page: #showing that internal U.S. government estimates of Soviet military capabilities and intentions after World War II were highly dismissive of their capabilities, and were "virtually unanimous in concluding that the Soviets currently had no wish to initiate hostilities with the West# hehe the soviets are still responsible for the cold war -eh?

but note when talking about communism - what do you mean exactly? the ideas of marx & engels, the social democracies of latin america,

the leninist & stalinist regimes of russia, or the current socialist joke of china, which claims it is communist?... it has always been this myth for years that communism existed in russia. the bolshevik revolution in true essence was even anti-socialist because it provided totalitarian control to the state. now when the soviet block crumbled and the western media labelled it as the fall of socialism, why didn't they also term it, as Noam Chomsky pointed out, the fall of democracy, since those soviet states also called themselves people's democracies?

no they instead sang the same looney tunes: capitalism has defeated communism and hence capitalism is better.... well those songs were sung until the 2008 financial crisis showed up...

what am i saying? perhaps we should listen to you and keep on holding hands, singing kumbaya, while self-deluding ourselves that our western governments have always stood for the defense of democracy, liberty and is a force for prosperity. LOL

ps: btw you didn't give me a reference to Lend-Lease program.

i'm also not on crack or anything - because i have never being high nor smoked(i would guess it is surely your habit, which explains why you impusively make a reference to it. cheers pal )
22:10 March 31, 2011 by Lance64A

The financial crisis of 2008 was not caused by capitalism; it was caused by socialist government policies that forced banks to make mortgage loans they otherwise would not have made. The Democrats will not tell you that, of course. They will tell you that the greedy banks were responsible.

If the banks were free to make loans based on sound banking principles, they would not have loaned money to people that had no means of making the monthly payments.

That's the problem with Socialism , it works well until they run out of other people's money.
13:11 April 3, 2011 by kegwasher
Lance64A, I think you are completely offbase. No one forced the banks to make bad loans. They made bad loans because the potential for profit was huge. The people were given risky loans they could not afford at rates the bank knew were risky. The banks were supported in this by both parties who were receiving bribes, I mean campaign contributions.
03:37 October 11, 2011 by Semper Fido
Every time I'm overseas, and I hear "American go home", I have to laugh. There's a vast groundswell of Americans (myself included) who are starting to feel the exact same way. We should just go home, lock the doors, and man the borders. Hopefully, everyone would be happy then.
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