It's official: Army issues new tattoo rules

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It's official: Soldiers can now get their arms, legs and most of their bodies covered in tattoos.

The Army published an update to Army Regulation 670-1 on Friday, meaning the new tattoo rules are officially in effect.

Under the new policy, there are no longer limits on the size or number of tattoos soldiers can have on their arms and legs. The change strikes a short-lived policy limiting soldiers to four tattoos below the elbow or knee, none bigger than the wearer's hand.

Face, neck and hand tattoos, however, remain against regulation, with the exception of one ring tattoo per hand. Racist, derogatory and sexist tattoos are also outlawed.

The more restrictive tattoo policy had become a sore subject for soldiers, as the new Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey quickly learned through soldier feedback. Dailey was concerned the tough tattoo rules were negatively impacting morale, and he shared these concerns with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.

Odierno previewed the latest revisions on April 1.

"Society is changing its view of tattoos, and we have to change along with that," Odierno said. "It makes sense. Soldiers have grown up in an era when tattoos are much more acceptable and we have to change along with that."

Some frequently asked questions concerning the new policy:

Q. What does this mean for soldiers who have neck tattoos?

A. There is no change to the restriction of neck tattoos. They are still prohibited. Soldiers who had a neck tattoo prior to the March 31, 2014, policy change and properly documented it will continue to be grandfathered. Any neck tattoo obtained after that date is in violation of the Army's policy.

Q. How will the new rules affect enlisted soldiers seeking commission to become an officer or a warrant officer?

A. There is no change to the process for enlisted soldiers to pursue a commissioning program. Commanders use the whole-soldier concept in making appropriate recommendations, and tattoos are one of many attributes taken into consideration.

Q. How does the new policy affect female soldiers who are wearing the skirt with their Army Service Uniform?

A. There is no additional restriction for female soldiers. All soldiers may have tattoos on their legs.

Q. Does this mean tattooed recruits who were turned away since the new policy took effect will soon be able to enlist?

A. Yes.

Q. Does SMA Dailey have any tattoos?

A. No.

More 670-1 Updates

While the tattoo changes are most notable, there were other tweaks in this latest version of AR 670-1.

• Soldiers can now wear the Army Combat Uniform while traveling on commercial planes, trains or automobiles.

Prior to this rule change, soldiers were allowed to wear the ACU on commercial flights only when deploying, redeploying or on rest and recuperation leave to and from the combat theater. In addition, commanders could authorize service or utility uniforms for soldiers traveling commercially for emergency leave or casualty assistance duties.

• The Army has clarified its policy for the wear of uniforms at off-post establishments that sell alcohol. You can purchase liquor at a liquor store while wearing your uniform. You cannot drink at a bar in uniform.

Soldiers have dinner with their family or coworkers at a restaurant that serves alcohol, but a soldier cannot drink at any "establishment whose primary business is selling alcohol," the Army stated in a news release.

"The intent of the policy is for Soldiers to not wear their uniform in an establishment where consumption of alcohol is the primary activity," an Army spokesperson said in the release.


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