Army Tattoo Policy Becoming More Strict

The Army tattoo policy is apparently about to change.

The US Army has reportedly determined that flagrant tattoos are inconsistent with military discipline, and the service has been a bit too lenient on body art the last 10 years during deployments in war zones.

Now that the overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, however, new recruits will reportedly have to conform to standards that ban visible tattoos below the elbow and knee or above the neckline. Existing soldiers will be grandfathered, however, provided the body art contains no racist, sexist, or extremist symbols or words.

The Army already bans tattoos on the head or face. Neck tattoos are already "off limits" for recruits.

Thee proposed changes to Army Regulation 670-1 as outlined by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler have not gone over too well so far on Facebook and elsewhere, The Daily Beast reports. "The initial wave of reaction on military blogs and social media has been largely negative. Many commenters cite the tattoo standard as antiquated and a poor indication of a soldier's ability to perform the job. Others say body art has become a large part of the Army's own culture, resurrecting an argument that surfaced when rumors of the new tattoo policy started circulating in 2011."

Owing to budget cuts, the Army will discharge about 16,000 soldiers over the next five years, which presumably includes anyone who won't comply with the tattoo policy if or when it goes into effect.

All GIs will also have to "self-identify tattoos to their unit leaders." Any ink that violates the Army's rules will have to be removed at the soldier's own expense.

Tightened grooming standards for both men and women in uniform will also be enforced as well under an overall review of the Army dress code.

The Army tattoo policy is subject to the final approval (or disapproval) of US Secretary of the Army John McHugh sometime within the next two months.

[image via Shutterstock]