Tag Archives: Tattoo

What NCOs need to know about the new tattoo policy

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

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.



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.