U.S. Marines from the 2nd MEB, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines fire mortars at Taliban positions from inside their base at Now Zad in Afghanistan's Helmand province on Monday June 22, 2009. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) (David Guttenfelder / AP)
The guns may be out, but the upper thighs are staying covered, at least for the foreseeable future.
Despite the cult status enjoyed by silkies, the Marine Corps’ formerly authorized brief green workout shorts will remain out of regs for unit physical training, officials said — although Marines can continue to wear them for individual PT if they wish.
Marine Corps Times reported in 2011 that the formerly standard-issue workout shorts, which boast a 2.25-inch inseam and are reminiscent of 1970s basketball gear, were no longer authorized for unit PT. According to officials with Marine Corps Systems Command, silkies no longer matched the current physical training uniform, which includes longer shorts of a similar material.
“The current shorts look like soccer shorts (longer) and are a darker green than the old silkies,” Marine Corps Uniform Board officials said at the time. “The silkies do not look like the current short in either design, color or fabric. As such, they are not authorized.”
Still, silkies maintain a faithful following. A Silkies page boasts nearly 24,000 fans, with user-submitted photos of Marines and veterans sporting the revealing workout gear. The popular Marine Corps web comic “Terminal Lance” devoted a strip to silkies in 2010.
With Amos’ decision late last month to return to the popular rolled sleeves on the Marines’ summer camouflage uniform, it appears fans of silkies see an opportunity to press for a return to another uniform classic.
During a live town hall question-and-answer session with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos and Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett, administrators of the “Silkies” Facebook page asked a number of tongue-in-cheek questions, all aimed at bringing the short-shorts back into regs.
“Sir, thank you for the rolled sleeves. But our hearts lie in our silkies,” the page’s administrators wrote in one comment. “Well, not exactly, but you know what we mean.”
The comments did not elicit any response, however, from Amos or Barrett.
It appears unit-sanctioned silkies may have gone the way of the distinctively dated flat-top and horseshoe haircuts, fallen out of favor because they’re offensive to the eye and unlikely to ever return.