New Tattoo Rules – Again!

With new leadership comes new priorities. As Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) Dailey has completed his transition, one of the first major aspects he has changed was to roll back one of the major changes of his predecessor. SMA Chandler championed the AR 670-1 (Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia) updates to reflect a return to the standards that he believed made the Army great. One of the more contentious changes included restrictions to the number and location of tattoos that service members could have, and the limitations it would impose on their future.

Under the 2014 update to AR 670-1 the appearance and grooming standards became punitive, which means that infractions could result in punishing a Soldier under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Soldiers with tattoos were required to have all tattoos documented, photographed, and validated to ensure that any tattoos which were grandfathered in were identified and new tattoos could be recognized. Documentation was mandated to be done by the Company Commander with all documents uploaded to the soldier’s permanent file. Yearly checks were required to ensure compliance, infractions were to be identified and the soldier to be charged. This caused an unnecessary and undue requirement to photograph every single instance of a tattoo, much in the same way that a criminal would have identifying features photographed upon incarceration.

Tattoo SideTattoos were limited in length, width, size, quantity, and location; sleeve tattoos or tattoos which exceeded these limits were cause to deny a service member the opportunity to transition from enlisted to warrant or officer.

Hardly one year and a new SMA later and the rules are once again changing! One of the chief complaints was that enlisted service members could not seek a commission based on a changing tattoo policy. A staff sergeant was leaving the military to go to law school so that he could serve as a lawyer because the military would not allow him to serve as a JAG officer. The question was asked, ‘how am I good enough to be a lawyer in the civilian world, but not good enough to be a lawyer in the military because of a tattoo?’ Now the question has been answered.

SMA Dailey’s change to the tattoo policy is backed by the Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno. The new policy removes the limit to quantity and location of the tattoos as long as they cannot be seen while wearing the Army field uniform (as compared to the previous Army physical fitness uniform). It also removed the limitation from individuals with sleeve tattoos from becoming warrants or officers. As long as the service member receives the endorsement of the commander they can now once again go down that road.

General Odierno may have said it best, “Soldiers have grown up in an era when tattoos are much more acceptable and we have to change along with that.” The soldiers themselves have spoken and the Sergeant Major of the Army has listened.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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