The Army Reflector Belt: The Dumbest Army Idea Ever

Once upon a time in a land far away, there was a staff officer.  This staff officer had a lot of time on his hands and he wanted to think of some creative ways to make life more difficult for the soldiers in his subordinate units.  After all, this helped justify his existence.

So he brainstormed ideas.  One day, while watching a group of Soldiers do PT, he came up with a great idea.  The reflector belt. He figured that the reflective device on the PT uniform was not enough.  He figured that if 300 Soldiers were running in formation, a vehicle wouldn’t be able to see them.

He figured that a reflector belt would help Soldiers feel safer while they were in the chow hall.  He figured the reflector belt would keep people safer in combat zones.

He was so pleased of the idea that he told his fellow staff officers.  They were amazed at his creativity.  They too, thought it was a great idea.  However, he never consulted the leaders in the small units under his authority.  Who cared what they thought about it?  After all, they reported to him.

He figured that EVERY Army Soldier should be forced to wear a reflector belt at all times: while in the shower, while in the latrine, while sleeping,  while eating, while at work, while on vacation, and even while commuting to work.

After all, safety was paramount.  So he drafted up a sample policy letter to brief the General.  Initially, the General was against it.  But the staff officer was persistent.  He got his staff buddies to draft up Power Point Presentations, give briefs, and even write a 218 page manual describing the benefits of wearing a reflector belt.

And so it happened.  After six long months and countless meetings the General signed off on it.  Although he was reluctant to the idea at first, he eventually gave in.  Those staff officers were very convincing with those Power Point Slides!  They used all the bells and whistles to hit on their key points.

Besides, who could argue that Soldier Safety wasn’t important?  Even if the reflector belt saved just one life, it would be worth it.

And the rest of the story is history.  Now, Soldiers from every unit in the Army must carry their most prized possession with them at all times.  Losing your weapon is bad news.  But losing your reflector belt is inconceivable.


My Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my short (fake) parable about the history of the Army Reflector Belts.  I have to be honest with you and tell you that I think the reflector belt is the dumbest thing the Army has done in a long time (other than the Black Beret).  Wearing a reflector belt in a combat zone, while running, and in a garrison environment, makes absolutely no sense to me.

After all, we are grown men and women responsible for defending out nation’s freedom, and in many cases, we can’t even go for a jog without a reflector belt?  Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me.

What do you think about my story of the Army Reflector Belt?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  Please share this on Facebook and Twitter if you enjoy it.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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18 thoughts on “The Army Reflector Belt: The Dumbest Army Idea Ever”

  1. This made me laugh (although I was sure you were serious until the very end)… Given this were true, it would’ve been one of the worst ideas imagined. Going into a combat zone (particularly at night) with a neon yellow band across your waist pretty much screams “I’m right here, kill me!”. Overall, well-written comedy. Thankful this wasn’t true.

  2. This was seriously funny! (In a painful sort of way.)

    You may have taken some literary liberties with your ‘history’ but it just rings so true. So many times, when working for a large corporation, I saw people in management come up with similarly ridiculous ideas that they ‘sold’ to management above them and then inflicted upon those below them. No one above ever had a clue about what was going on in the ‘trenches’, but they all sat around and patted themselves on the back afterwards.

    I think that a bubble wrap suit might be a good idea, to combat safety issues encountered while walking to the mess hall. (wink, wink)

  3. This whole reflector belt thing reminds me of another stupid idea I had read sometime back. It wasn’t with any of our armed forces, it was Australian armed forces. To generate energy while on the battlefield, Australian soldiers would wear solar panels. Have you ever seen the amazing glare off a solar panel when the sun hits it just right? Why wear camo? Some of the ideas that somehow get through just amaze me.

  4. Those Power Point animations can be mighty convincing, haha. It seems amazing that every day tens of thousands of children walk home from school without a reflector belt. The United States Army seems like the last group on earth that would need to be forced to wear safety gear that was probably first intended for power walkers.

  5. My guess is that, once upon a time, someone got hit by a car. Though it was clearly the driver’s fault for drinking coffee while talking on his cell phone and trying to shift his manual transmission, that staff officer/additional duty safety officer had to include a recommendation in his AGAR (Army Ground Accident Report). The reflective belt was the best thing he could come up with. It was a good idea, I guess, because the APFU apparently wasn’t reflective *enough* to stop cars from hitting Soldiers.

    It made a little bit of sense in that scenario, but unfortunately got copied by the next generation of recommendation makers who applied the solution to EVERY OTHER PROBLEM.

    But that’s the Army. You get a point for addressing an issue (e.g. safety, sexual assault, discipline), not the actual results of the solution.

  6. UPDATE…..

    We still wear the PT belt here in Afghanistan. It is part of Kandahar Airfield's uniform Policy. Also our PT running area is on the perimeter of the airfield and guess what you have to wear while running…..PT BELT!!!. So many thanks to the Good Idea Fairy that came up with this

  7. Wow, that just rates up there in brilliance. (as Greg gets an utter sarcastic look on his face.) How this stupidity actually got signed off on by a General just baffles me. It rates right up there with the soviets Anti-Tank Dogs in World War 2.

    Is this still a mandatory belt that has to be worn? If it is, I am deeply ashamed with our Army of today. Especially if it has to be worn in combat situations.

      1. I believe that this post and all comments should be used as a way to see just how stupid this idea is. Isn’t there any top-brass in the Army that this could be sent to? It seems they should take a look at the soldier’s reactions and safety. I wonder how many terrorists are out there laughing telling their suicide geeks to look for the reflective belts.

        Sorry, but this makes me somewhat angry.

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