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Why Did Alexander Vindman Testify in His U.S. Military Uniform?

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an official on the National Security Council, the gave extensive testimony in the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, during which, he wore the dress blues he earned as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. military. Vindman’s military service was a recurring topic throughout his hearing, perhaps most notably when he told House Intel ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to address him by his rank.

In his capacity with the NSC, Vindman is allowed to wear standard dress clothes instead of the formal uniform he wore today. So his choice of dress does raise the question: why did he wear the outfit before Congress?

Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) partially raised this after Vindman’s remarks to Nunes, asking, “Do you always insist on civilians calling you by your rank?” Vindman answered that he “thought it was appropriate to stick with” his rank today, and while he didn’t think Nunes was trying to be disrespectful, he explained he “the attacks that I’ve had in the press, on Twitter, have kind of eliminated the fact that, or either marginalized me, as a military officer.”

A U.S. Army spokesperson told CNN that Vindman’s attire is nothing out of the ordinary.

“A soldier performing duties in an official capacity will normally be in uniform,” Col. Kathy Turner, the Army spokesperson, said.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Since Vindman pointed out that he is an active duty Army office, it’s worth considering what Regulation 670-1, Chapter 3, Section 3-5 says about wearing the uniform at national, regional, and local events:

When Army participation in a public event has been approved in accordance with AR 360–1, commanders are responsible for determining the appropriate uniform for the event. Generally, protocol standards dictate standards of dress. For instance, when an invitation calls for business attire, the appropriate Army uniform is the service or dress uniform. However, in some instances, the Class C uniform may be appropriate.

Also here’s what Chapter 10, Section 11-3 says about the occasions for wear:

a. All-purpose wear. The male service/dress uniform is authorized for wear on and off duty, on and off the installation, unless restricted by the commander. The male service/dress uniform is not intended for wear as an all- purpose uniform when other uniforms are more appropriate.
b. Approved wear. The male service/dress uniform is prescribed for year-round wear for all Soldiers, unless otherwise directed by the commander. Soldiers may wear variations of the male service/dress uniform:
(1) On duty when prescribed by the local commander.
(2) At social functions of a private or official nature, either before or after retreat, and while in transit to and from such functions. The male service/dress uniform is normally considered appropriate for social or official functions off the installation, such as memorial services, funerals, weddings, inaugurals, patriotic ceremonies, and similar functions.
(3) When designated by the host of an event.
(4) On other appropriate occasions, as desired by the individual.

Cheddar D.C. bureau chief and Mediaite alum J.D. Durkin spoke to retired Naval aviator Guy Snodgrass, who put it in layman’s terms:

It is unclear whether President Donald Trump knows about this, though he commented on Vindman’s outfit. When asked at a White House meeting if he had any reaction to the testimony from his NSC European Affairs Director, Trump said “I don’t know him, as he says Lieutenant Colonel, I understand someone had the misfortune of calling him mister and he corrected them. I never saw the man, I understand now he wears his uniform when he goes in. No, I don’t know Vindman at all.”

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