"going commando": origins, actual commandos?

Granted, idle speculation doesn’t get much more frivolous than this, but I was wondering about the phrase “going commando”.

Do real-life commandos ever really enter a theater of operations sans undies? Does it offer a health or tactical advantage in, say, swampy terrain? On the other hand, wouldn’t even a pair of swamp-muck-soaked underwear help keep leeches and whatnot away from the family jewels? :eek:

Could it be a matter of heightened alertness and, uh, sensitivity to one’s environment?

And am I the only (purely civvie) woman here who finds the very idea hilarious?

As always, thanks in advance for your responses!

I asked this in another thread, and got no response. Good luck.

The best info I’ve found so far here.

My brother said they never wore undies during Desert Storm because it kept him from getting “funky”. If it matters any, he also shaves down there for the same reason. I don’t if the other soldiers shaved or not, before you ask.

I can tell you as am umpire, I don’t wear underwear. I wear compression pants made of a lycra-esque type material with a built in cup holder.


Mainly it’s the damned chaffing!!! Be it from sand as mentioned in the link, or the friction from walking combined with ones natural sweat (plus the salt left after evaporation), or whatever… I dont know all the physics behind it, but I’ve seen people unable to walk after a day Rucking with undies.

If you want to wear undies, you cant just pack one pair. You’ll need several pair and you’ll have to change them regularly for hygeine purposes. A pair of BDUs can be worn for weeks, but things like socks have to be changed often so you have to bring a lot. Get one little bit of chaffing down there combined with week old undies and that’s a life threatning infection waiting to happen. Better to have good circulation down there.
There are other weight/space issues as well. It’s just an overall good idea to not wear underwear. Wearing underwear with BDUs just seems awkward anymore, anyway.

Answer from an actual commando (my dad, spent 1970-'71 in Vietnam and thereabouts working for US Army Special Forces):

His stated reason for not wearing undies in combat is thus: if you get shot/stabbed/punji-sticked in that part of the body, it’s just that much more dirty fabric being pushed into the wound, which is a Bad Thing. Well, a Not Improving The Situation Thing, at least. The getting shot is the Bad Thing.

Grr. Posted when I meant to preview.

So yes, real commandos go commando, and there’s one possible reason why. The quick drainage of swamp ick (as mentioned in Q.E.D.'s link) would also be a benefit.

Yes gunshot and stab wounds with yucky panties can cause nasty infections. But remember that even without those injuries, just the rubbing can remove layers of skin down there and open you up to a nasty spectrum of bacteria. If it don’t kill you, it definitely makes you “combat inefective”.

But again… I’d still say the main reason is just the discomfort from chaffing.
No one I know where’s undies. And the most common thing heard is “hell no i dont wear underwear!! i dont want to get chaffed”… no one every really says “I dont want an infection”. Even though the latter is actually more important.

“where’s” undies??? did i really type that?? holy shit it must be time for bed!!!

But why particularly commandos? The same logic would apply to anyone going into combat.

Do the US armed forces actually have commandos, as such? I know about Seals, Rangers, et al. Or is “commandos” used a generic term for special forces of this sort?

I think it was originally used by the Boers in South-Africa Wars against the British to describe their militia. It was then adopted (Royal Marine Commandos) by the British for their special forces after the fall of France in WWII.

I think at the time they were the only British Special Forces hence the terms were equated but with the arrival of the SAS and SBS and SOE the confusion started to occur.

As to why “going commando” rather than “going military” by guess, and only a guess, is that they are cosidered more “hard core” than your standard squaddie and more likely to exhibit extreme behaviour. Not that not wearing undies is particularly extreme on the scale of things in warfare…

As an aside, folks that wear kilts refer to being “regimental” when the only thing under their kilt is their shoes.

Seeing as the social norm is to wear underwear all the time, and hearing people say occasionally, with disgust, “Ewwww, you’re not wearing underwear?!?” when it did happen, I had always assumed that the phrase meant that it took a special type of person, one with extreme courage, a la a commando soldier, to be brave enough to go against this social norm, and be subject to ridicule, scorn and ostracization.

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi = Always Where Under Where

I kill me.

Um, maybe I’m the only person this seems obvious to, but wouldn’t pants (even uniform pants) actually create more of a chafing problem than underwear, which (at least in my part of the United States) seems to be created with some measure of comfort in mind? And as for sanitation, wearing directly against the pants every day is going to be much more hazardous with regard to sanitation than the possibility of underwear re-used for one or two days… I mean, soldiers do wear pants, not kilts.

I first encountered the policy before I ever heard the phrase. In their Vietnam War novel “A Reckoning for Kings,” Allan Cole and Chris Bunch (Bunch is a veteran Airborne Ranger) feature a veteran advising a kid fresh from boot camp on how to pack for a long recon. One piece of advice is to ditch all of his underwear – “You’re gonna swear to God you’ll never wear it again.”

Other soldiers may get stuck in the field and regret having no clean underwear, but only commandos pack that way.

I thought umpires weren’t supposed to drink on duty.

They did an interview with Jessie Ventura before he bacame governer of MN. IIRC, he was running for mayor of his town. At the time, the movie G.I. Janew had just come out and as a former Navy Seal, they asked what he thought of Demi Moore playing a Navy Seal.

He said “I mean, she’s nice to look at, she’s got a great pair of boobs, but she could never be a Navy Seal.” When asked why not, he said “Seals never wear underwear.”

To me, it seems obvious that to “go commando” is a figure of speech based used as a humorous way of comparing male genitalia to commando soldiers.

Commando soldiers: to me, the term evokes an image of rengade and fierce warriors out on their own in the wild.

So, to say that you are “going commando” means that your gentalia is a fierce warrior, free from the confines of underwear; a renegade soldier.

That makes sense to me. As far as chafing, I’d think that not wearing underwear would create more chafing.

If I was going into battle, I would be wearing whitey-tighties to keep my genitals safe and snug against my body.

[Cosmo Kramer]
“I’m out there, Jerry–and I’m lovin’ it!”