Join the Army, Grow a Beard?

Washington Report

(March 7, 2017) The Army is reviewing its policy banning beards on soldiers. This has been an ongoing discussion for years, often driven by those seeking religious accommodations for certain groups, like the authorization of beards for Sikh men in uniform, Sgt. Maj. Anthony Moore, the Army G-1 uniform policy sergeant major, told Army Times.

“Soldiers would ask here and there, but it’s gained traction since the Army directive for religious accommodations,” he said.

Once changes were made for religious reasons, the discussion shifted to the whole force. One of the questions posed, according to Sgt. Maj. Dan Dailey, is how the Army could adjust its rules and still maintain standards.

“I think that we have to continue that study,” Dailey said.

Restrictions for tattoos and hairstyles continue evolving, which is causing the Army to look into its policy that has banned beards since early in the 20th century. Part of the reason for the hesitation to change the policy is because equipment like protective masks will not seal properly with facial hair.

Dailey told the publication last week, “As of now, there are no plans to change the policy. Army leaders and researchers are currently reviewing the wear of beards by soldiers in the Army. Any potential change in policy will be made with careful consideration to the professionalism, standards, discipline, readiness and safety of all of our soldiers.”