Soldiers can now wear black socks when they're doing PT.

Effective immediately, soldiers are allowed to wear black or white socks with both the gray Army Physical Fitness Uniform and the black Improved Physical Fitness Uniform.

"Sock color choice is at the discretion of the soldier," wrote Lt. Gen. James McConville, the Army G-1, in an exception to policy memo that went out to the force Friday.

The socks — black or white — will be calf-length or ankle-length, and plain with no logos. Ankle-length socks must cover the soldier's entire ankle bone.

The exception to policy memo allows soldiers to choose what color socks they wear until the Army has a chance to update Army Regulation 670-1, which governs the wear and appearance of uniforms and insignia.

The change is a simple, no-cost change, and it gives soldiers another option instead of adding another item to their clothing bags.

The decision to allow black socks is the result of soldier requests to Army senior leaders, and it was a regular topic of conversation during town hall meetings with Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey.

It also was one of the issues posed to soldiers during a survey seeking feedback about five proposed uniform changes.

More than 18,500 soldiers responded to the survey, which was sent to a random sampling of about 120,000 soldiers this summer.

About 67 percent of survey respondents said voted in favor of being allowed to wear black socks.

The other proposed uniform changes from the survey were forwarded to the uniform review board for discussion and further recommendation. The board will convene in April to discuss these changes.

Soldiers in a survey said they want black socks approved for physical training, saying white socks don't work with the black PT uniform.

Photo Credit: Cpl. Woo-hyeok Yang/Army

Recommendations from the board will then be submitted to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who will make the ultimate decision. The Army secretary is sometimes asked to weigh in, but only for large-scale decisions.

The other proposed changes included in the survey are:

Eisenhower jacket

Almost 63 percent of respondents voted in favor of the jacket, which originally was made popular by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower during World War II. The proposed jacket is another layer of etiquette for soldiers who need to go from the Class Bs to a more formal appearance without transitioning to the full Army Service Uniform jacket.

If approved, the jacket would be an optional item.

Drill sergeant hats

About 62 percent voted yes when asked if they support a single campaign hat for both male and female drill sergeants. The question stemmed from feedback Army leaders have received from female drill sergeants.

Blue service caps

Almost 66 percent of soldiers voted in favor of a single cap, also known as the "bus driver cap," for both male and female soldiers to wear with the Army Service Uniform.

Service cap vs. beret

Soldiers were most evenly divided on this question, with 55 percent voting "yes," and 45 percent voting "no."

Army leaders asked if the blue service cap should be the required headgear for senior noncommissioned officers and higher while wearing the Army Service Uniform.

This change, if soldiers like it, would affect sergeants first class through sergeants major, warrant officers and officers.

Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.

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