Tattoos. Sleeve tattoos. Rolled sleeves. Black socks. Earbuds. 

Bless Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey for granting these small changes to Army regulation that have led to huge cheers from the rank and file. But the good times do not have to stop here.

Thanks largely to the religious accommodations sought by Sikh service members, the Army is taking a very close look at allowing the widespread wear of beards.

Sikh soldiers are already allowed to keep their beards.

Research is also underway for an improved gas mask that would work effectively, even with a full face of facial hair.  

It's very clear that soldiers support beards. A poll of more than 13,500 Army Times readers found a whopping 87 percent supported allowing soldiers to grow beards. Further, 86 percent said they'd grow a beard in uniform if they could. 

OK, this wasn't a scientific poll, but Army Times readers are not composed of a bunch of chin-curtain-loving hipsters. These are active-duty soldiers and veterans, chiming in with a clear message — grant us beards!

Of course, the Army needs to establish grooming standards. We don't want to see Gandalfs or Kentucky moonshiners in uniform. We also don't want to risk lives in war zones if beards degrade a soldier's safety or ability to wear protective gear. 

Other countries have proven it can be done: Israel, Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, India — beards are A-OK in uniform for all these militaries. It was also OK in the U.S. Army, at least until the threat of gas during World War I required a force of clean-shaven Doughboys.

Today, beards would be good for the troops but also Big Army. Allowing them would be a real retention tool, and an attractive recruiting tool for the service. 

A few critics out there have dismissed beards as a fad. The Wall Street Journal, Vice, Mashable and Business Insider have all declared the end of beards. 


Google Trends, which tracks search terms around the world, shows that searches for "beard styles" has trended upwards every year since 2004, according to the Huffington Post. The beard bubble has yet to burst. 

To Army leaders, let's just approve beards already. While you're at it, throw in nail polish and earrings for the women. 

Finally, to those men who can't grow a beard to save their lives: The health experts say to wash your face, rub some eucalyptus in your pores and pray for growth.

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