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SMA Dailey defends uniform changes at Solarium II

NCO Journal staff report

Dozens of NCOs applauded when one asked Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey to try to “hold off making any more uniform changes for a while.”

Dailey replied to the NCOs — half of whom were wearing Operational Camouflage Patterns, or OCPs, the other Army Combat Uniforms, or ACUs — “I don’t want to make any more changes.”

He then qualified the remark: “I’m working hard to minimize changes, but I’d be lying if I promised you there’d be no more changes.”

He joked that he’s becoming known as the “black socks and tattoo” sergeant major.

The exchange came as Dailey fielded questions on the fourth and final day of the chief of staff of the Army-sponsored NCO Solarium II on Nov. 20 at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The Noncommissioned Officer Solarium II 2015 is an effort by the sergeant major of the Army to inform and shape the future direction of the U.S. Army. The on-site session at Fort Leavenworth ran from Tuesday through Friday and brought together 60 sergeants first class. In addition to Dailey’s address, the NCOs in attendance identified issues that will have an impact on the Army into the foreseeable future and provided recommendations to Dailey, who will brief that “unfiltered feedback” to the chief of staff of the Army.

As part of the uniform changes discussion, Dailey reminded participants that at least enlisted Soldiers are fortunate to have a clothing allowance that will completely pay for the new uniforms over the phase-in period. Officers bear that expense on their own.

When changes are made, Dailey said, it’s normally by consensus. As a rule of thumb, a consensus is roughly 60 percent, he said. He gets that percentage by surveying Soldiers and then is able to inform leadership from the bottom up.

Dailey referred to a uniform survey conducted in August as an example of consensus building. Soldiers were surveyed about making the blue service cap be the required headgear with the Army Service Uniform for senior NCOs, officers and warrant officers, instead of the beret.

Just over half of the respondents favored the change, but the 60 percent threshold wasn’t met. One Solarium II participant told Dailey that she was passionate about the need for one cap for all.

Dailey said he’d heard from others who agreed with her, but some who just as passionately disagreed.

For example, he said, one Soldier he spoke with said she appreciates the two versions because she likes the men and women to be differentiated by their apparel.

There could be times in the future when changes will be made without survey or convention, Dailey said — for instance, a change to the uniform that provides Soldiers a greater level of protection.

Dailey said he and the Army chief of staff are both fond of period uniforms, such as those worn during World War II. They were both happy to see the return of the Ike jacket, he said. However, he said, their preferences will not have much of a bearing on future changes.

Lastly, Dailey advised having an open mind to changes in general to avoid a stagnating force.

COMBAT IN SYRIA?

One NCO wondered whether Soldiers would be battling the Islamic State in Syria or elsewhere within the next 18 months. Dailey responded that that would be hard to predict and that he didn’t have any inside knowledge about forces in Syria.

He did, however, offer his personal assessment: With the recent attacks in Paris and elsewhere, Dailey said there’s a growing concern globally the severity of the IS threat is setting in.

He said he believes one of the main reasons another attack hasn’t yet happened on the homeland is because of worldwide involvement of the United States and others, including the some 190,000 Soldiers serving abroad in 90 countries.

He harkened back to the Army chief of staff’s main focus of being deployable and ready at all times to fight and win the nation’s wars.

“The only certainty is uncertainty for the future,” he said.

ON LEADERSHIP

“We own the world’s intellectual capital. We have the most intelligent NCOs, officers and Army civilians,” Dailey said of Army leaders. But there’s always room for growth, he added.

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commander of the Combined Arms Center, followed Dailey’s closing remarks about leadership with his own.

“A sergeant in the Army does what a colonel or brigadier general does in the Chinese army,” he said. “We have mission command empowering leaders like you.”

NCOs at the small-unit level are making strategic decisions.

“You are the Army’s ‘trusted professionals,’” he added, recalling a previous Solarium in which that phrase was suggested and adopted by the Army.

ON SCHOOLS

Brown hailed the new Army University as the most revolutionary step in education that the Army has taken since 1881, when Army Chief of Staff Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman first established Army school houses at Leavenworth and elsewhere.

Brown said Army University was created not to compete with but to collaborate with other excellent American universities.

At one time, all of the Army schools were stove-piped, he said. Now they’re synchronized as they must be, because the Army no longer has the luxury of infusing good ideas across the school houses over a long period of time. The world has changed and good ideas need to flow faster, he said.

At one time, Brown said, there were 100 doctors of philosophy at Fort Leavenworth, helping only students at the Army Command and General Staff College. Now, he said, they’re helping everyone across the force.

The other thing the Army is doing is working to provide Soldiers college credit for Army education courses and certifying Soldiers for job-related training.

For instance, when a Soldier separates from the force and goes into welding in the private sector, the difference between having welding certification and not can add up to more than $50,000 per year. Certified welders earn an average of $80,000 annually, and those who are not certified average $30,000.

What NCOs need to know about the new tattoo policy

By CLIFFORD KYLE JONES
NCO Journal

The Army has revised its tattoo policy again —the third time in just more than a year.

On April 10, Army Regulation 670-1 was updated to remove restrictions on the number and size of tattoos on the forearm and the leg below the knee. Soldiers and recruits are now allowed appropriate tattoos of any size anywhere on their body except their head, neck and most of their hands (AR 670-1 allows one “ring” tattoo per hand.)

The release of AR 670-1 came less than two weeks after Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno announced that change was imminent during a news conference April 1 at the Association of the United States Army Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Ala.

“As part of the regular process that we go through in reviewing regulations covering the wear and appearance of the Army uniform and the appearance of our Soldiers, we will be releasing in the coming weeks an update to that policy,” Odierno said. “And the most notable change is going to be the change in the tattoo policy in the Army.”­

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey seemed to have telegraphed the potential for the changes in the weeks preceding the announcement. Dailey took over as sergeant major of the Army in January. Even during his first troop visit in early March to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., it was clear that many Soldiers were unhappy with the policy, which was revised in March last year to limit the number of new tattoos below the elbows and knees and scale back some allowances made in 2006, during the height of the surge in Iraq and Afghanistan.

About a week after his visit to JBLM, Dailey was at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he opened his talk with Soldiers and their families by saying that he had some idea about the concerns they would raise.

“I’d bet my next paycheck that someone in here wants to talk about tattoos,” he said.

The new AR 670-1 includes a few other changes, as well. It authorizes Soldiers traveling commercially on official business to wear their Army Combat Uniforms. Previously, Soldiers had been required to wear their dress uniforms. The new regulation also clarifies the wear of Army uniforms at off-post establishments that sell alcohol — Soldiers may be in uniform when buying liquor at a liquor store, for instance, but not while drinking at a bar.

However, it was the new tattoo policy, first announced in March 2014 and then revised in September 2014, that had drawn the most attention — and ire.

After Odierno announced the latest changes, Dailey said, “You can’t go anywhere without hearing about the Army’s tattoo policy. It came up when I was at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (at Fort Bliss, Texas), too. So it’s not just Soldiers, but leaders as well.”

Dailey also said that “overwhelmingly,” Soldiers have told him the tattoo policy would play a role in whether they stayed in the Army.

“So then we struggle with: Do the standards of discipline we’ve established override the needs of what we need to maintain the all-volunteer force, and the quality of the all-volunteer force?” he said. “When we move this standard too far to the right, can we actually maintain the all-volunteer force in the future?”

When Dailey was at Fort Bragg, one Soldier told him that he would like the Army to return to the “pre-surge” standards, when tattoos were allowed as long they weren’t visible while a Soldier wore his or her Class A uniform.

“Does that sound fair?” Dailey asked the room. He was met with a resounding “Hooah!” from the Soldiers in the room. And he and the secretary of the Army listened.

—      The Army News Service contributed to this report.

Tattoo bans over the years

Read more in interactive chart.

Army releases latest policies on female hairstyles, tattoos

By LISA FERDINANDO
Army News Service

The Army published revisions to Army Regulation 670-1, its policy for “Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia,” which included changes to female hairstyles and tattoos standards. The revisions, dated Sept 15, were effective immediately.

The Army determined in a review that authorized hairstyles announced earlier this year limited female Soldiers’ hair grooming options. The policy authorizes temporary, two-strand hair twists for women, and includes a number of updates to hairstyles for women. Dreadlocks or locks remain an unauthorized hairstyle.

Since it was done several years ago, 1st Sgt. Aki Paylor's tattoo of the Warrior Ethos is "grandfathered in" under the Army's new tattoo guidelines, which took effect earlier this year. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie van Geete)
Since it was done several years ago, 1st Sgt. Aki Paylor’s tattoo of the Warrior Ethos is “grandfathered in” under the Army’s new tattoo guidelines, which took effect earlier this year. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie van Geete)

As for tattoos, the new regulation allows enlisted Soldiers who have “grandfathered” tattoos to be considered for officer candidate school or warrant officer appointment without needing an exception to the policy.

“Wearing of the uniform as well as our overall military appearance should be a matter of personal pride for Soldiers,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler said. “Our commitment to the uniform and appearance standards is vital to your professionalism.”

“Every Soldier has the responsibility to know and follow these standards. Leaders at all levels also have the responsibility to interpret and enforce these standards, which begins by setting the appropriate example,” Chandler added. “Your actions help to ensure we continue to be trusted and revered by the American people we serve.”

A training package for Army leaders and Soldiers is available online at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/uniform/.

The Army plans to continue its long-standing practice of conducting perpetual reviews of its policies. In fact, Soldiers are encouraged to submit a DA Form 2028 to recommend changes. Requests with significant wear or policy changes should be endorsed through the Soldier’s senior level chain of command to the Army G-1.

 

Female hairstyles

The Army began reviewing its policies on female hairstyles soon after releasing the March 28, 2014, version of the regulation. In conjunction with the service’s review, the Department of Defense also requested a review in light of concerns that the hairstyle policies were too restrictive for African-American women. This review included feedback from a panel of Soldiers comprised of the various demographics represented in the U.S. Army. Subsequently, Army officials believe the updated policy gives female Soldiers more options while maintaining a professional appearance.

The new regulation allows female Soldiers to have temporary twists or two pieces of hair neatly twisted together. Twists, cornrows and braids can be up to 1/2 inch in diameter. The previous maximum was a diameter of approximately 1/4 inch.

The Army removed the requirement that no more than 1/8 of an inch of scalp could show between braids. The Army requires braids, twists and cornrows worn against the scalp be uniform in appearance and have the same general size of spacing between them.

Previously, the Army required that the ends of hair in braids be secured with inconspicuous rubber bands. The reference to rubber bands was removed, now the ends just have to be secured inconspicuously.

Braids and cornrows worn against the scalp previously had to be worn in a straight line from the front and go all the way to the back of the head. Now, the language has been changed to say the braids need to follow the natural direction of the hair when worn back or in the natural direction using one part in the hair.

Styles, such as braids, cornrows, or twists worn against the scalp may still stop at one consistent location of the head. When such styles are worn loosely or free-hanging, they must encompass the whole head.

While dreadlocks or locks are still not authorized, their definition has been changed to remove the words “matted and unkempt.”

Another change includes increasing the allowable size of a bun, measuring from the scalp out, from three inches to three-and-a-half inches.

The allowable amount of bulk of hair remains two inches.

The shortest hair a female Soldier can have is 1/4 inch from the scalp, which can be tapered to the scalp along the hairline. There is no maximum length a female Soldier’s hair can be, as long as it is within regulation and can be worn up to meet the guidance for bulk and bun size.

The new rules clarify that braids, cornrows and now twists can be worn in a ponytail during physical training; it also specifies that wigs, which were previously authorized, cannot be worn to cover up an unauthorized hairstyle.

No matter what the authorized hairstyle, it must allow for the Soldier to be able to properly wear all types of headgear and protective equipment.

 

Tattoos

As part of efforts to maintain the professional appearance of the force, the Army dialed back the number, size and placement of tattoos in the March regulation.

Previously authorized tattoos were “grandfathered” in, but Soldiers hoping to become an officer or warrant officer had to get an exception to the policy.

The updated regulation takes into account that previously authorized tattoos should not prevent a Soldier from becoming an officer, but that candidates are to be evaluated based on the whole Soldier concept, or all characteristics of a Soldier.

The rest of the regulation from March remains in place, including the restriction on sleeve tattoos and allowing no more than four tattoos below the elbows or knees. Tattoos below the knees or elbows must be smaller than the size of the Soldier’s palm with fingers extended.

Permanent ink or branding on the face, neck, and hands, as well as tattoos that can be deemed extremist, indecent, sexist or racist in nature remain banned.

 

Other changes

The regulation provides additional clarification that Soldiers who entered the Army with body mutilation prior to March 2014 may request an exception to Army G-1.

Another change of note is that Soldiers can wear a “Next of Kin” lapel pin on their Army service and dress uniforms. The pin is for the immediate family of military members who were killed on duty, outside of combat operations.

Soldiers are already authorized to wear the “Gold Star” lapel pin, which is for the immediate family of service members who were killed in combat.

SMA: New rules governing tattoos, grooming standards are coming

From Stars and Stripes:

In the works for more than a year, strict new rules governing things like tattoos and grooming for Soldiers have been approved by the Secretary of the Army and are only awaiting a final signature, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler said Saturday.

Speaking to troops at bases in eastern Afghanistan, Chandler said Secretary John McHugh has approved but not yet officially put his name to the changes to Army Regulation 670-1.

“We’re just waiting for the secretary to sign,” Chandler said during a town hall meeting with soldiers from the 4th Combat Brigade Team, 10th Mountain Division, at Forward Operating Base Gamberi. He made similar remarks to troops at FOB Fenty in Jalalabad.

The regulations cover things such as tattoos, grooming, and uniforms and apply only to Soldiers. Other branches of the military have their own grooming and appearance rules.

Chandler said he expects the changes to become policy in 30 to 60 days.

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