Army tightens personal appearance, tattoo policy
March 31, 2014
By David Vergun
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 31, 2014) -- The number, size and placement of tattoos have been dialed back under revised Army Regulation 670-1, which governs the Army's grooming standards and proper wear of the uniform.
The revised regulation was published yesterday, along with Department of the Army Pamplet 670-1, outlining the new standards. Effective dates for the various changes can also be found in All Army Activity message, or ALARACT 082-2014.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III addressed why the changes were made.
"The Army is a profession, and one of the ways our leaders and the American public measure our professionalism is by our appearance," he said. "Wearing of the uniform, as well as our overall military appearance, should be a matter of personal pride for all Soldiers.
"Every Soldier has the responsibility to understand and follow these standards," he continued. "Leaders at all levels also have a responsibility to interpret and enforce these standards, which begins by setting the example."
Some of the changes include:
Tattoos cannot be located anywhere on the neck or head above the lines of a T-shirt. They also cannot be located anywhere below the wrist bone.
Visible band tattoos cannot be longer than two inches wide. There can be no more than one visible band tattoo. Sleeve tattoos on arms or legs are not allowed.
Each visible tattoo below the elbow or knee must be smaller than the size of the wearer's extended hand. There cannot be more than four total tattoos below the elbows or knees.
Soldiers who currently violate these revisions can be grandfathered in as long as commanders validate their current tattoos. Also, each year, commanders much check each Soldier for new tattoos that might be prohibited. The checks will be done when Soldiers are in their physical fitness uniform and do not include tattoos that might be hidden by the shorts or T-shirts.
Prohibited tattoos include those just mentioned, as well as ones that could be deemed extremist, indecent, sexist or racist.
Soldiers on official travel and traveling by commercial carrier are no longer allowed to wear the Army Combat Uniform, or ACU. Instead, they must either wear civilian attire or the service uniform.
The only ACU exceptions are when Soldiers are deploying, on rest and recuperation leave to and from theater and when authorized to do so by commanders for emergency leave or casualty assistance duties.
Identification tags must be worn at all times while on duty in uniform unless otherwise directed.
Soldiers can carry plain, black umbrellas only during inclement weather when in service, dress and mess uniforms. However, umbrellas are not allowed in formations or when wearing field or utility uniforms.
Revisions also cover the wearing of badges and tabs, the carrying of bags, sewing on of nametapes, U.S. Army tape and grade insignia; wearing of insignia representing regimental affiliation, windbreakers, all-weather coats and other garments.
Fancy-style haircuts, including the "tear drop," "landing strip" or "Mohawk," and "horseshoe" are no longer authorized.
Sideburns cannot extend below the bottom of the ear opening and cannot be flared or tapered to a point, and the length of the sideburn hair cannot exceed one-eighth of an inch.
A mustache cannot extend past the corners of the mouth and no portion can cover the upper lip line or go higher than the lowest portion of the nose.
Fingernails cannot extend past the tip of the finger and nail polish cannot be worn.
Hair must be neatly and inconspicuously fastened or pinned. Bangs are now authorized, as long as they don't fall below the eyebrows. "Bulk of hair," measured from the scalp up, as opposed to the length of hair, will not exceed two inches, except for a bun, which can protrude three inches from the scalp. The bun cannot be wider than the width of the head.
Also hair needs to be properly secured, cannot be unbalanced or lopsided and parting of hair must be in a straight line.
Hair extensions and wigs are now authorized as long as they have the same general appearance as the natural hair and conform to all other hair regulations.
During physical training, women can now wear the full length of their hair in one pony tail that's centered on the back of the head.
Fingernails cannot exceed 1/4 inch from the tip of the finger and only clear nail polish is authorized with all uniforms.
Soldiers cannot mutilate their bodies in any manner, such as tongue bifurcation.
Tooth caps or veneers of any unnatural color, design, shape or texture cannot be worn.
Jewelry or objects cannot be attached to, through or under the skin or other body part. This applies to all Soldiers on or off duty. The only exception is that female Soldiers can wear authorized earrings.
Commanders can authorize the wearing of sunglasses in formations or field environments. Glasses of any type cannot be worn on top of the head.
Soldiers cannot walk in such a way as to interfere with saluting, giving salutations or in a manner that detracts from a professional image. Examples include walking while eating, using electronic devices and smoking. All restrictions that apply to cigarettes also apply to tobacco-free cigarettes.
Personnel in civilian clothing, whether on-duty or off-duty, on or off post, must dress in a way that does not detract from the profession.
The wearing of wireless and non-wireless devices such as earpieces while in uniform is prohibited. However, hands-free devices used in a vehicle or bicycle are allowed as long as they are not prohibited by policy or civilian law.
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