Military Connection: US Army’s Tattoo Policy Changing


By Debbie Gregory.

Tattoos and the military have a long and colorful history. Modern pop culture credits the Navy with introducing the art of tattooing to the United States in the early 1900s, when Sailors displayed their anchors and love of “MOM”.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has recently announced the revision of the branch’s policy on the size and number of tattoos allowed for soldiers.

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

The revised policy will not restrict a soldier’s tattoos as long as they remain hidden by the Army Service Uniform.  Still prohibited, however, are tattoos on a soldier’s neck, head, face, wrists or hands.  One exception to the hand restriction is a ring tattoo on each hand.  The policy will continue to restrict tattoos that are sexist, racist, extremist or derogatory.

Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey cited the overwhelming objection by soldiers of the current tattoo policy.

“This is very much a morale issue for the United States Army,” Dailey said.  The current regulation also has bearing on soldiers requesting a commission as well as barring good candidates from joining the service. It has become clear that the issue needed to be revisited.

Remembrance is a theme common to many service-related tattoos. Whether they are getting tattoos to remember the good times or the bad, friends made or lost, inked service members carry with them a permanent reminder of specific, often life-changing events in their lives.

The current policy will remain in effect until the new version is published. Officials say Army Regulation 670-1 is due to be enacted in the very near future.

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Military Connection: US Army’s Tattoo Policy Changing: by Debbie Gregory