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Op-ed: Recent Navy Rating Changes Have “Kicked Chiefs To The Curb!”

November 28, 2016

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For as long as most of us can remember, the Navy has always been unique because of the way Chief Petty Officers uniforms were different from the E-6 and below sailors.

Recent changes to Navy uniforms and Navy ratings has literally “kicked Chiefs to the curb!” Nowadays, you have to give a longer, closer look at a sailor to determine whether or not that sailor is a Chief!

In days not too far behind us, making “Chief” was a milestone in a sailor’s career. If you had the desire and the mettle to reach that level in the Chain of Command, you were given an initiation ceremony recognizing your accomplishment; you were issued a completely different wardrobe; you were elevated to a position of greater responsibility as a “leader” of the sailors rated E-6 and lower.

Today, we are like the other Services; Army and Air Force uniforms are the same for enlisted ratings E-2 through E-9. Military personnel who have achieved the E-7, E-8 and E-9 level are an integral part of the Chain of Command; the necessary link between commissioned officers and enlisted personnel. These highest level of non-commissioned officers (E-7 through E-9) assume the huge burden of leadership responsibility over enlisted personnel – allowing commissioned officers to properly perform their assigned duties of command.

This retired Senior Chief, with all due respect to those who have made recent decisions affecting enlisted personnel of the Navy, suggests and recommends that we re-establish the importance of a Chief Petty Officer. The uniform for Chiefs should differ, noticeably, from the uniforms for E-6s and lower! Chiefs should wear Khakis as their work uniform and it is recommended that their “covers” be adorned with a blue strap and blue “scrambled eggs” on the bill of the cover (officers O-5 and above) have a gold strap and gold scrambled eggs on the bill of their covers. Blue & Gold are Navy’s colors; give the Officers the gold and give the Chiefs the blue.

If the United States Navy wants to attract good men and women to assume leadership roles, the powers to be should consider getting back to basics and return the “spotlight” onto the Chiefs.



Brooks Outland is a Korean and Vietnam war veteran.He volunteered to serve in Vietnam because he was keen to help the people of South Vietnam keep their freedom and their country from communist takeover by the North. After retiring Brooks and his wife spent eight years volunteering aboard his old battleship, USS Missouri (BB-63), before returning to the mainland in Arkansas in 2015.