A Soldier's Best Buds

Working out and listening to your favorite music through earbuds go together like ketchup and French fries—unless you’re in the Army and are wearing your Army Physical Fitness Uniform (APFU), that is.

Chapter 3 of Army Regulation 670–1 prohibits the use of “wireless or non-wireless devices/earpieces while wearing Army uniforms,” and naturally that includes the APFU. (And you don’t even want to think about putting those earbuds in while you’re wearing a dress uniform!) Change into off-the-rack civvie workout togs, though, and the earbuds can stay.

If you think it sounds like a bit of overreach, you’re not alone—but the good news is that it’s likely the Army will soften its stance on this issue.

The Army Times recently reported that Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey, after listening to feedback from soldiers at town halls and troop meetings over the past few months, will recommend the authorization of the use of in-ear listening devices when wearing the APFU.

Dailey has a convincing—and pretty straightforward—reason in pushing for the change: more soldiers will work out in their uniforms if the regulations are amended. Last year, Dailey explained that “What's preventing them from wearing their PT uniform[s] when they have the choice is the fact that they like to listen to their headphones when they work out, and so do I…I want them wearing their PT uniform.” (Dailey didn’t explain just why he would like to see them in those PT uniforms, it’s a safe bet it involves recruiting.)

One change soldiers will probably never to see is permission to wear earbuds while doing PT outdoors, said Daliley, citing obvious safety concerns. And if NFL players aren't allowed to wear Bose Beats by Dre, you can rest assured that soldiers will never bet allowed to ear any type of over-the-ear contraptions.
If Dailey’s recent track record is any indication, his wish will probably come true. He also pushed to allow soldiers to wear black socks with their APFUs, and this past November the Army made the appropriate regulation changes. Besides allowing soldiers to exercise a bit of fashion freedom, the black-socks option might be popular because they don’t show dirt as easily as white footwear. Of course, it’s doubtful few soldiers will hit the gym wearing their black dress socks, even if they were able
 to pick up three pair for under $10.

The move comes two years after the Air Force announced that black socks would be permitted for wear with its physical training uniforms, along with the removal of color restrictions on athletic shoes.

Soon, you'll be able to wear earbuds with either of these uniforms.
Update: 10 January 2016
It appears the Army decided to move quickly and resolve this issue in a timely fashion. Multiple news sources announced today that U.S Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley had approved SMA Dailey's request, but that soldiers needed to wait until for the rule-change process to run its course. In an official statement, Army spokesman Paul Prince said,
"Until the new policy is published, as an Army directive or as an update to AR 670-1, soldiers are to adhere to the current policy...we are working diligently to implement the change as soon as possible while making sure we have properly vetted the proposed guidance through the Army Publishing Process."

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