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Closed barber shops won’t mean relaxed grooming, Army leaders say

Army leaders still want soldiers to keep their hair in line with regulation, even as base barbershops shutter across installations to prevent coronavirus infections.

But soldiers don’t have to be overachievers, leadership added.

“Know what the standards are and maybe don’t go overboard ... making sure it’s extra close and high and tight,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said during a virtual town hall event Tuesday.

“The standard is neatly groomed,” he added. “For males, when the hair is combed, it doesn’t fall in the eyebrows [and] it’s not in the ears. I know you’re wanting more, but it’s very clear what the regulations is.”

The Navy and Air Force have deferred the responsibility to commanding officers, who are authorized to relax hair length grooming standards. Facial hair and shaving guidelines have remained in place for both services.

The Marine Corps also has not issued a service-wide policy, even as some barbershops have shuttered at Corps facilities. But Marine leaders have given commanders the latitude to waive the requirements if it’s not practical to meet them.

Following the standard’s bare minimum requirements, and not “reading too much into” the regulation, should be enough to keep soldiers looking professionals and well-trimmed, Army Chief of Staff James McConville said.

“If there’s a problem with meeting the standard, the idea that your hair is over your ears or your hair is over your eyes, we can have that discussion and probably issue you a pair of scissors," McConville added.

Although many Army and Air Force Exchange Service barbershops have closed during the pandemic, mobile AAFES barbers have started to pop up at places like Fort Lee, Virginia, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to continue trimming troops.

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