Soldiers will be able to show off more tattoos on their arms and legs thanks to a recent relaxation of the Army’s policy concerning them.
Wayne V. Hall, of the Department of the Army Media Relations, said there are still some restrictions with the relaxed policy, which became effective April 10.
“Soldiers are no longer limited regarding the size or amount of tattoos permitted on the arms and legs,” Hall said. “However, tattoos are still prohibited on the neck above the T-shirt neckline, head, face, wrists and hands — with the exception of one ring tattoo on each hand.”
Hall said soldiers will not be “grandfathered” for compliance with the new policy because the previous policy, which went into effect in March 2014, was more restrictive.
Soldiers who violate the revised regulation may face adverse legal action in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, he said.
He said the earlier regulation restricted both the size and number of tattoos below the elbow and knee. Soldiers were limited to no more than four tattoos in these areas. Moreover, the tattoos had to be smaller than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended. Soldiers also were limited to only one visible band tattoo anywhere on the body. A band tattoo is defined as any tattoo that completely encircles a part of the body.
Previously, a band tattoo could be no larger than 2 inches wide.
Soldiers who were in compliance with a policy that took effect Feb. 3, 2005, but not in compliance with the 2014 revision, were grandfathered. However, they had to self-identify with their unit commander by noting their current tattoos with descriptions, sizes and locations, Hall said.
He said the new policy was based on input from soldiers and leaders throughout the Army. He explained that the new regulation balances the Army’s readiness needs with professional-appearance standards, which reinforce good order and discipline and serve as benchmarks for military professionalism.
Soldiers who would like to see further changes are encouraged to submit an official Army form to recommend these changes, he said. Requests for significant wear and policy changes must be endorsed by the soldier’s chain of command.
Hall emphasized that specific types of tattoos will continue to be prohibited, and commanders will check for them annually. They include tattoos that are identified with gang symbols and extremist groups, as well as tattoos that are indecent, sexist or racist, he said.
In addition to changes to its tattoo policy, Hall said other revisions to the regulation include the authorization to wear the Army Combat Uniform for commercial travel and a clarification of restrictive uniform wear at off-post establishments.