First it was weekend safety briefs. Now, Army Secretary Mark Esper has eased rules on another iconic Army regulation that has launched a thousand memes.

In a memo signed Jan. 4, Esper effectively did away with PT belts.

“[Headquarters Department of the Army] does not require the wear of the reflective physical training belt or vest during daylight hours, or while conducting physical training on closed roads or dedicated physical training routes.”

Previously, the glow belts could be seen on tracks and parade fields on any given day, on any installation, not to mention on soldiers out jogging around town.

That memo also removed the requirement for units to record command training in the Digital Training Management System, and changed procedures for inspecting pre-positioned stocks, like the armored brigade vehicles and equipment the Army has stored in Europe.

“The stock record officer may use routine events such as maintenance, location changes, or disposal to maintain accurate accountability records to reduce the requirement to conduct a physical count of property on hand for each piece of APS equipment,” Esper wrote.

More memos

Esper has so far released 19 “readiness and lethality” memos since April. Some have targeted mandatory training, while others have simplified administrative processes.

A Nov. 5 memo made these changes to logistics tasks:

  • Logistics readiness officers are no longer required.
  • Units with a calibration and repair support mission no longer have to coordinate major changes that affect calibration and repair support within command elements, such as an Army Command, Army Service Component Command, Direct Reporting Unit, and U.S. Army Test, Measurement, and Diagnostic Equipment Activity regional support organization.
  • Commanders no longer have to hold annual refresher Corrosion Prevention and Control training for all personnel. Instead, soldiers will attend training according to their skill level and duties.
  • Unit corrosion monitors no longer have to require maintenance and supply personnel to monitor equipment in contract storage for corrosion. 

“Commanders have full authority to exercise individual discretion to simplify, reduce, or eliminate requirements as outlined in this paragraph,” he wrote.

And on Nov. 28, another memo eliminated some training on human immunodeficiency virus, health policy, law enforcement and arms/ammunition/explosive security.

  • Quarterly and annual HIV training is no longer required, and commanders don’t have to include it in training calendars or report its completion to headquarters.
  • Publishing a command health policy is no longer required. 
  • Deployed units no longer have to hold quarterly suicide prevention review boards or report their findings to headquarters.
  • Soldiers being held or restricted by military police (or other law enforcement) can be released to an officer or noncommissioned officer of at least one rank higher than the soldier, as long as they are approved by the soldier’s commander. Previously, soldiers could only be released to a commander, sergeant major or first sergeant.
  • Units can keep small amounts of ammunition in storage without written authorization from commanders.
  • Deficiencies in arms, ammunition, and explosives physical security requirements that can be corrected within 60 days do not need a waiver. If it will take more than 60 days, units must request a 30-day extension and then a waiver after 90 days.
  • Explosive ordnance disposal teams responding to off-post incidents are responsible for all of the arms, ammunition and explosives in their possession until they return to station. Mission commanders no longer have to establish requirements for transport.
  • Commercial arms, ammunition and explosives shipments stored on Army installations will require constant surveillance, and employees of the carrier may be required to stay with the shipment.
  • A DA Form 7281 is no longer required for screening personnel for duties involving arms, ammunition and explosives control. Commanders will follow procedures in the Army physical security program.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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