The Army's new appearance regs tighten up rules for tattoos. The regulation, AR-670-1 took effect Monday. (Tony Karumba / Getty Images)
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The long-awaited Army Regulation 670-1, with new rules on tattoos, hairstyles, grooming and uniform wear, went into effect Monday.
“The Army is a profession, and one of the ways our leaders and the American people measure our professionalism is by our appearance,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Ray Chandler wrote on his Facebook page. “Wearing of the uniform, as well as our overall military appearance, should be a matter of personal pride for all soldiers.”
The new AR 670-1 was formally published Monday via the Army’s Publishing Directorate.
“Every soldier has the responsibility to understand and follow these standards,” Chandler wrote. “Leaders at all levels also have a responsibility to interpret and enforce these standards, which begins by setting the example.”
The extensive revision and update to AR 670-1 comes as the Army pushes for a more professional force and transitions from more than 12 years of war.
The new rules also come as the Army shrinks to a force of 490,000 soldiers after a war-time high of 570,000.
Ongoing budget issues could cut the force even further over the next five years, down to 450,000 or even 420,000.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the Army pushed to fill the ranks to meet the demand for boots on the ground, the service recruited new soldiers with hand or neck tattoos or granted waivers to those with past run-ins with the law.
The new regulation establishes tougher tattoo rules and clarifies fingernail, hair and makeup rules, while also outlining how and when uniforms should be worn.
The new policy on tattoos is likely the biggest change affecting soldiers, and violation of the policy could result in adverse administrative action or charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
In addition to banning extremist, indecent, sexist and racist tattoos, soldiers now are prohibited from having tattoos on their head, face, neck, wrists, hands and fingers.
Soldiers may have no more than four visible tattoos below the elbow or below the knee, and these tattoos must be smaller than the size of the wearer’s hand.
Sleeve tattoos are not allowed below the elbow or the knee.
Soldiers who are not in compliance with the new tattoo policy but were compliant with previous policies are grandfathered, according to the new regulation.
“The vast majority of soldiers that have tattoos that are not racist, extremist or sexist, we’ll probably be able to grandfather those folks in,” Chandler has said.
The Army also tightened the rules for enlisted soldiers hoping to go officer or warrant.
If you have tattoos on your head, face, neck, wrists, hands or fingers, you cannot request commissioning or appointment, according to the regulation.
Also barred from commissioning are soldiers who exceed the limit of four visible tattoos below the elbow or the knee; those with more than one visible band tattoo on their bodies; and those who have a sleeve tattoo below the elbow or the knee.
These soldiers “cannot request commissioning or appointment even if they are grandfathered,” according to the new regulation.
The Army also will now require inspections of soldiers’ tattoos to ensure compliance.
Now that the new regulation has been published, soldiers have a limited amount of time to get in compliance with the new rules.
In an All-Activities message, the Army outlined the timelines and effective dates that begin counting down once AR 670-1 is released.
■ Soldiers have seven days to adhere to the new grooming standards.
■ Currently serving soldiers are prohibited from getting new tattoos that don't meet the criteria outlined in the new regulation.
■ Applicants contracted for service in any Army component or enrolled in any accession program within 30 days of the release of the new AR 670-1 are grandfathered in to the previously published tattoo policy.
■ Enlisted soldiers selected before July 1 for officer accession programs are grandfathered in to the previously published tattoo policy.
■ Active-duty commanders must complete tattoo validation memos for all assigned soldiers within 30 days of the regulation's release. Those records must be uploaded for filing into soldiers' human resource record within 60 days.
■ Commander of reserve component units have 120 days to complete the memos. Those records must be uploaded for filing into soldiers' records within 150 days.
■ Soldiers who have their skill badges sewn onto their combat uniforms have seven days from the release of the regulation to make sure their name tape, Army tape and grade insignia also are sewn on.