FACT CHECK:   Has President Obama banned the military from wearing uniforms at recruitment centers?

Claim:   President Obama has banned the military from wearing uniforms at recruitment centers.

  MOSTLY FALSE

WHAT’S TRUE:   Marine Corps Recruiting Command tendered a later-approved temporary request for recruiters “[to] not wear their military uniforms” in the immediate wake of the July 2015 Chattanooga shootings. WHAT’S FALSE:   President Obama ordered U.S. military personnel to cease wearing uniforms at recruitment centers.

Example:     [Collected via Twitter and e-mail, July 2015]

A Facebook friend posted an article from rightwingnews.com saying “Obama Orders Military to Stop Wearing Uniforms at Recruitment Centers to Hide from Terrorists.” I know you have to take Facebook articles with a grain of salt, but I just want to make sure….there is no truth to this, right?

Origins:    On 20 July 2015, the web site RightWingNews published an article titled “OUTRAGE: Obama Orders Military to Stop Wearing Uniforms at Recruitment Centers to Hide from Terrorists” which referenced the July 2015 Chattanooga-area shootings at a military recruiting center and Navy Operational Support Center that left four Marines and a Navy petty officer dead:

After last week’s terror attack on two military recruitment offices in Tennessee, Obama’s defense secretary has taken steps to stop future attacks. Has he moved to arm our soldiers? Nope. He’s ordered them to cower and hide by telling them to stop wearing their uniforms. You heard that right. Obama’s administration is demanding that soldiers stop wearing their uniforms so that terrorists won’t get mad.

That article cited a similar piece titled “Obama’s Answer to Terrorism Against Our Troops: Have Them Remove Their Uniforms”:

On the heels of a terrorist attack on two military recruiting offices in Tennessee by a Muslim immigrant, the Obama administration announced a policy change to help prevent future attacks. Was it to finally arm our soldiers? Nope. It was to have them take off their uniforms. No really!

So, now recruiters will be wearing…. what, shots and a t-shirt? Or better yet, maybe a burkah or maybe some turban-styled head covering. All in order to cringe in front of Islamic terrorists while pleading, “oh, please, please, Mr. terrorist, don’t kill us.”

Both articles were attributed to Warner Todd Huston, but the one from which the second excerpt was taken cited a 19 July 2015 Military Times article in which President Obama’s name did not appear at all:

The military services have taken swift action to increase security after [the] shootings in Tennessee, even closing some facilities and telling Marine recruiters not to wear uniforms in public.

Defense Secretary Ash Cater approved immediate steps taken by the military branches to increase security and has told the services to get back to him by the end of next week with additional force protection measures, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

One of the steps Carter approved was Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s decision to have recruiters not wear their military uniforms for now, a defense official said. The recruiting command also closed down all offices within 40 miles of the facilities in Chattanooga and increased the force protection condition level from “Bravo” to “Charlie.”

It’s true that Marine recruiters were advised to refrain from wearing their uniforms on the job, but that directive came from Marine Corps Recruiting Command and not from President Obama. Moreover, the measure was described as temporary and as one part of a larger response to an increased threat level following the July 2015 attack.

Last updated:      20 July 2015

Originally published:    20 July 2015