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Army secretary approves new grooming, uniform regs

Regulation would largely be a return to rules in place before 2006

Mar. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Mitchell Clark
The Army is finalizing a pamphlet that will educate soldiers on the new rules. (David Goldman/AP)
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Army Secretary John McHugh on Thursday approved a long-awaited revision to grooming and uniform regulations, according to an Army statement.

The updated Army Regulation 670-1 and related policy will replace more than 50 all-Army messages and, “include new policies on many topics such as tattoos, fingernail polish, and general uniform wear,” the Army said. “Some of the contents will also be punitive.”

The Army did not immediately release details of the overhauled regulations, but they are expected within the next few weeks.

Senior officials told Army Times last fall that the regulation would largely be a return to rules in place before 2006, when the Army softened policies to allow in recruits with ink on their hands and necks. At the time, the Army sought to grow by 80,000.

The latest revision comes amid plans to shrink the Army to as low as 420,000.

“We are dedicated to ensuring soldiers and leaders have easy access to policies to ensure our Army maintains a professional, neat, and Soldierly appearance, which is the foundation of our profession,” the Army said in a statement, issued Friday to Army Times.

Last year, officials said the new rules would likely ban ink below the elbow and knee and require soldiers to remove tattoos deemed offensive at their own expense. Soldiers would face punishment for any tattoos found on your body that are deemed indecent, sexist, racist or extremist. While it’s unknown what the approved policy says, officials said last year that soldiers with tattoos in the wrong places would be grandfathered in. New tattoos would not be covered.

News of McHugh’s approval of the policy first went out in a Thursday memo to all general officers.

The service is working to finalize a pamphlet that will be sent to every corner of the Army in hopes of educating soldiers on the new rules.

The roll-out dovetails with the Army’s professionalization efforts, and the changes were touted in the statement as giving “soldiers and leaders the responsibility for ensuring our appearance reflects the highest level of professionalism.”

Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, who recently led the comprehensive review of AR 670-1, told Army Times in the fall the idea was to foster a uniformly neat and well-groomed appearance among troops.

“A vital ingredient of the Army’s strength and military effectiveness is the pride and self-discipline that American soldiers bring to their service through a conservative military image,” he said.

The Army statement noted that adjustments made within the regulations went through an extensive decision-making process with continuous input from various levels of Army leaders.

Leaders at all levels will be expected to play a vital role in educating subordinates and enforcing standards set forth in these publications.

“Leaders should take a common sense approach to the new policies and set aside time to ensure soldiers understand the policies,” the Army statement reads.

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