SEOUL – Just days after the 2nd Infantry Division said in a Facebook post that its troops in South Korea wouldn’t have to wear reflective physical training belts — a subject of ridicule by some soldiers — the 8th Army is saying the belts are still required attire.
Some see the belts as an example of military overkill — especially when they must be worn during PT on roads closed to traffic and in broad daylight.
There are even Facebook pages dedicated to the issue. One, titled “The Reflective PT Belt” calls itself a “military humor page, and a support group for wearers of the reflective PT belt.”
Another, “I Hate Reflective Belts,” says it is open to “members of the U.S. Armed Forces who see the continued use of reflective belts becoming ridiculous.”
In a Facebook notice posted Monday, 2ID said “guidance” from the division command sergeant majors of 8th Army and 2ID “is that the PT belt will no longer be part” of the improved physical fitness uniform that consists of a gray Army T-shirt, black trunks and, in winter, black sweatpants with black-and-gray running jacket.
“Squad leaders need to conduct a risk analysis at their level when planning PT,” the post said. “If a group is running off-post then they should only need a front and rear road guard wearing a PT belt.”
The 2ID post also noted, “If leaders plan to take their group off-post they can wear it after formation.”
Any rejoicing was short-lived.
In a Thursday response to an inquiry, 8th Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Devens said, “Within 8th Army the standards for the (wearing) of safety reflective (belts) with the IPFU have not changed. Leaders at all levels within 8th Army are expected to enforce the standards.
“Although subordinate leaders are given the authority to modify uniform standards in the conduct of training, this is only authorized following a comprehensive risk assessment to ensure the highest level of emphasis on the safety and welfare of our soldiers,” he said.
Attempts to get clarification on whether the 2ID no-belt initiative had been abandoned in light of Devens’ comments were unsuccessful.