Soldiers will likely be allowed to soon wear earbuds when working out in a gym in their PT uniform.
After months of feedback from soldiers, including during town hall meetings and troop visits, Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey on Monday said he's ready to move forward on the issue.
"I'm going to make a recommendation to the [Army chief of staff] about authorizing" in-ear headphones, Dailey told Army Times on Monday.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will have the final say on whether to allow the change.
Army Regulation 670-1 prohibits soldiers from wearing wireless or non-wireless devices or earpieces while wearing Army uniforms. But a soldier dressed in civilian clothes is able to work out in the same gym and wear his headphones.
Last summer, when discussing this issue with Army Times, Dailey said it would be "pretty hypocritical" to allow soldiers in civilian clothes to wear headphones in the gym but not those in uniform.
If approved, there will be some caveats to the new policy. For example, if soldiers are conducting physical fitness training in a gym as part of a unit event, their squad leader could require them to lose the headphones. The intent also is to authorize in-ear headphones — or earbuds — instead of large, over-the-ear devices.
Soldiers have long argued that headphones should be OK to wear while PTing in the gym while in uniform.
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Another no-no: earbuds while doing PT outside.
Citing safety concerns, that will "never" be allowed, Dailey said.
If Milley signs off on Dailey's recommendation, this will be at least the second uniform or appearance policy that Dailey has helped change based on soldier feedback.
The Army in November authorized soldiers to wear black socks when doing PT. The change gives soldiers the option of wearing white or black socks with both the gray Army Physical Fitness Uniform and the black Improved Physical Fitness Uniform.
The change, touted as a simple, no-cost change that helped boost morale, was another regular topic of conversation whenever Dailey conducted town hall meetings with soldiers.
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.