Army Physical Training Uniform
Today the Army physical training uniform is more complicated than the working uniform itself. I don’t necessarily mean the summer PT uniforms because there isn’t much you can do with them. (I mean it’s a pair of shorts and a top.) I’m really talking about the winter uniform with the mesh inside the legs of the pants. They hold more static than a balloon rubbed across a five-year-old’s head. Then you have to deal with the noise when you wear them. The top, or jacket, isn’t too bad. But let’s add the fact that it is expensive, especially the pants. And the winter uniform seems to be a favorite for thieves to steal. The cost for a complete winter uniform is close to $100 no matter what branch you’re in.
My suggestion or idea is to give the soldiers and service members a choice to wear winter sweats (like the Navy and Marines) rather than wear the loud, obnoxious pants for daily PT. A simple sweatshirt and sweatpants are comfortable, easy to take care of, and far less expensive. This way, soldiers won’t just have one winter PT uniform because you know that’s all most of them have due to the cost. We can use the glamorous winter PT uniform for those forever enjoyable 3- to 5-mile battalion runs in the winter. As far as the summer PTs, the new changes from that hideous grey to the black and yellow made all of us a lot prouder to wear our PTs anywhere. It looks a lot better on the winter uniform as well.
The PT Award
I can’t think of anything the Army should get rid of more than the PT award placed on a soldier’s PT shirt. Why, you ask? It’s called “my ego doing PT with me” here. I think it would be ok if there was one standard award across all genders and ages. Personally, I have several awards and must say that I have never had one on a PT shirt. I look at it this way; we don’t wear our medals or ribbons on our ACUs, so why do we have an award to wear on a PT uniform? Maybe a soldier should get a PT ribbon, not a medal, after 3 awards in a row. Or even better, give them an Army Achievement Medal because it is an achievement to do it 3 times in a row. The Army PT test standards aren’t that difficult, so everybody should be able to get at least a 280 PT score anyway.
Take Pride in Your PT Uniform
You should take as much pride in your PT uniform as you do your ACU. This means washing it and not showing up to formation with it dirty from the day before. (For some of you, it’s more like 3 days before). Have more than one Army physical training uniform, just as with summer, so save your money and take pride in showing up to formation with a neat, clean (not smelly) PT uniform. Have at least 3 winter tops, 2 jackets, and 2 pants. Then make sure that whenever you do laundry, you keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t walk off. We are lucky with our uniforms today. Go back and look at the PT uniforms from 5, 10, and 15 years ago! When I came into the Navy years ago, we did PT in our jungle boots and a pair of tiny tan shorts (yes you have seen them) and a blue EOD shirt.
To read more of Army and Navy veteran Bill Howard’s military insight, check out other articles on the Voice of a Veteran.