Army updates rules for soldiers on tattoos, sideburns and more

EUGENE, Ore. - New rules governing tattoos, grooming and uniforms are one final signature away for the Army.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler has visited Army bases in eastern Afghanistan speaking to soldiers about the proposed new changes to Army Regulation 670-1.

The regulations will cover such things as tattoos, grooming and uniforms, and only will apply to soldiers.

U.S. Army recruiters at the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Santa Clara said they received an email recently outlining some potential changes.

According to, there are 19 new rules changes.

Under the new policy, Army recruits will not be allowed to have tattoos that show below the elbows, knees or above the neckline.

The U.S. Army says current soldiers will need to "self-identify" each tattoo and remove tattoos that are gang-related, racist, sexist or offensive.

Other potential rules:

#4: "Sideburns will not extend below the top of the ear."

#5: "Soldiers will be clean shaven on AND off duty (even during leave)."

#9: "Females fingernail length will not exceed 1/4 inch, no fake nails."

#10: "New recruits will not be allowed to have tattoos that show below the elbows and knees or above the neckline. Current soldiers MAY be grandfathered in, but all soldiers will still be barred from having any tattoos that are racist, sexist or extremist."

#11: "Soldiers will not walk while engaged in activities that require the hand salute (eating, cell phone use, smoking, etc.)."

#14: "New regulation will specify civilian clothes standards both on AND off duty and both on AND off post."

#15: "No visible body piercing on OR off duty and on OR off post. Males will never be allowed to wear earrings. Ear gauging will be unauthorized."

Sgt. Will Bowden served in the Marine Corps from 1998-2001.

"These policies were already standard when I joined in 1998 in the Marine Corps," Bowden said.

"Being a Marine, everything was always drilled in that what made us different and what made us special was the fact that we did adhere to these different appearance standards," Bowden said, "and we did have a longer bootcamp, and we did train a certain way."

He said the appearance regulations hold people to a higher standard in the armed forces, but also how the public views the military.

"It's the whole idea of trying to protect all of our armed forced-individuals from being made fun of from sexism or racism," he said.

Bowden believes the Army is making a good move.

"It builds comradarie, it builds cohesion throughout the entire armed forces."

A representative at University of Oregon's ROTC program said the U.S. Army used to have code of conduct policies, but they have fallen by the wayside.

April Slater owner and artist of Memento Ink Tattoo in Springfield says businesses and organizations should be able to create a code of conduct but said her most decorated customers are active and reserve members of the military.

Bottom line Bowden said is that the standards set him and the Marine Corps apart, and thinks the Army should follow.

"I think that it definitely made me more proud to be a marine. Made me more proud of my accomplishments."

Sgt. Maj. Chandler told media outlets he expects AR 670-1 to become policy in 30 to 60 days.

Chandler say AR 670-1 will be enforced for all new recruits starting 2014.