New regulations say that soldiers may have no more than four visible tattoos below the elbow or the knee; tattoos must be smaller than the size of the wearer's hand. (David Goldman/The Associated Press)
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Details of the Army’s highly anticipated revisions to grooming and uniform regulations leaked online Thursday, just days before the document was set to go into effect.
The updated Army Regulation 670-1 was approved March 6 by Army Secretary John McHugh, and it will replace more than 50 all-Army messages and include new policies on issues such as tattoos, fingernail polish and general uniform wear, the Army has said.
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 tattoos on their hands and necks. At the time, the Army sought to grow by 80,000 troops.
On Thursday, a set of 57 PowerPoint slides dated March 19 and titled “Uniform Policy Leaders Training” was posted on Facebook by U.S. Army W.T.F.! Moments and quickly spread across Army-related sites.
Among the changes outlined in the slides:
■ Sideburns on male soldiers will not extend below the bottom of the ear opening.
■ Female soldiers can wear their hair in a ponytail during physical training.
■ Tattoos are not authorized on the face, head, neck or hands.
■ Soldiers may have no more than four visible tattoos below the elbow or the knee; tattoos must be smaller than the size of the wearer’s hand.
■ Sleeve tattoos on the arms or legs are not authorized.
■ Enlisted soldiers who exceed the tattoo limit cannot request commissioning; they are not grandfathered.
■ Commanders must validate all tattoos above the neckline, below the elbows and below the knees with a description of the color and shape on an official memo.
■ Commanders will conduct an annual check for new tattoos or brands in prohibited locations.
■ Soldiers may carry a plain black umbrella during inclement weather while wearing the service, dress and mess uniforms. Umbrellas are not authorized in formations or when wearing field or utility uniforms.