US Army Regulation to Ban Visible Tattoos

In light of recent policy changes within the military, one might get the idea that somehow the service is “softer” than it used to be, at least with respect to their rigidity when it comes to regulations and standards. Many opponents of the repeal of the much-maligned “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy or the recent statement by the Pentagon that combat-arms positions would open up for female soldiers by 2016, suggest that these are signs that the military has somehow lost that “something special” that separated the soldiers from the civilians.

It is almost certain that every generation of soldiers thinks that the generation of troops who came after them have it easier. As if in response to this attitude, Sergeant Major of the Army – the highest enlisted rank attainable – Raymond Chandler spoke to soldiers in Afghanistan about recent changes to one of the most-cited Army Regulations, AR-670-1, The Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. 

It has been less than ten years since the Army transitioned from the Battle Dress Uniform or BDU to the Army Combat Uniform or ACU. The main highlight of the new uniform was that its camouflage pattern was designed for booth woodland and desert theaters, it seems as if the Army is transitioning back to separate uniforms for separate environments in about nine months.

The biggest change however is the tattoo policy. Soldiers have been allowed to have tattoos that are visible, but only if those can be covered while wearing the Dress Uniform. That policy is set to change; now soldiers will be forbidden from having any tattoos below their elbows and knees or above the neckline. Some soldiers may be able to have their tattoos grandfathered in, those that do not will have to pay for the painful tattoo-removal procedure themselves. 


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