Fashion faux pas meets safety risk
April 10, 2008
Many of the uniform policies for Multi-National Corps - Iraq are designed to enhance servicemember safety. By not following the policies Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines could be putting their lives at risk.
"One of the biggest problems is that Soldiers are not wearing their reflective belts," said Sgt. Maj. Marlon D. Richardson, sergeant major MNC-I C1. "Reflective belts should be worn at all times when the sun is down regardless of the uniform."
Due to the lack of street lights on Victory Base Complex, it is difficult to see Soldiers walking around, Richardson said. The wear of a reflective belt greatly increases the visibility of servicemembers and decreases the chance of accidents involving vehicles.
"Another problem is now that the boonie hat is authorized for wear, many Soldiers are wearing it improperly," Richardson said. "Soldiers tend to roll the sides or fold the brim down to where it covers the eyes."
The boonie hat is designed to protect the wearer's ears, neck and face from the sun and prevent sunburn. When worn improperly, the boonie is not as effective at performing its designed task, Richardson said. Because of this design the boonie hat is also approved for wear with the physical fitness uniform during daylight hours.
One item not authorized with the PT uniform is earphones. Personal entertainment devices reduce wearers' awareness of what's going on around them, Richardson said. With earphones on, servicemembers can not hear traffic or warning sirens.
"The only authorized place Soldiers can do PT while wearing earphones is in the gym," Richardson said.
"It is important to educate Soldiers as to why the uniform policy is in place," Richardson said. "I think a lot of the violations are from a lack of knowledge."
Leaders can do several things to enforce the uniform policy standards, Richardson said. One way is to make Soldiers give classes on the proper wear of the uniform.
"The bottom line is that a Soldiers appearance says a lot," Richardson said. "Being in the wrong uniform may put the Soldier at risk."