Soldiers with excessive tattoos, sideburns or even nail polish may soon find themselves singled out and even disciplined over their personal appearance.
Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler is conducting a comprehensive review of the regulation on the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. Senior leaders have outlined several changes that would put the spotlight on dress code for soldiers and grooming standards.
Sgt. Maj. Chandler has stated that the goal of this campaign is not to punish soldiers, but to reemphasize the importance of maintaining professionalism in the military.
Most of the proposed changes are just modifications on existing rules. Many already exist or have at least been implied by the military for years.
For male soldiers:
Some of the changes are more controversial than others. Here are some of the proposed changes regarding tattoos:
In the past, military leadership hasn’t worried much about tattoos as long as they weren’t exposed when wearing a service uniform and were not vulgar, racist or representing an extremist ideology. Now, a soldier might have to worry about how many tattoos they have, even if they are hidden beneath clothing. While current soldiers with a full sleeve tattoo will likely be grandfathered in, this change has the potential to keep intelligent, capable citizens from entering the military for something that can be covered by a long-sleeve shirt.
There are also new guidelines for acceptable dress for soldiers when off duty or on leave, even when they’re off base.
Time will tell if these changes will be used in the upcoming troop drawdown. Senior Army officials are still considering the legality of some of these changes or how they could actually be enforced, but soldiers can expect to see a renewed focus on dress and appearance in the near future.
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