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.
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.
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