No sleeves allowed: New Army rule bans tattoos below elbows and knees

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New Army rules on grooming will mean recruits seeking to sign on the dotted line will first have to prove they don’t have tattoos that stretch past the elbow and that can be hidden under most shirts.

The new policy, which still has to be signed by the secretary of the Army to take effect, specifically states that recruits cannot have any tattoos below the elbows and knees and above the neckline, Stars and Stripes reported.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler made the policy announcement in recent speeches to troops in Afghanistan.

“We’re just waiting for the secretary to sign,” he said.

The Army has debated new grooming standards for fingernail polish, hair styles, body piercings and facial hair for more than a year. But the latest policy revisions affect only existing tattoo policy and are expected to take effect within 60 days.

Soldiers who have tattoos won’t be forced to remove them unless Army officials deem them racist, sexist or extremist in nature, Stars and Stripes reported. When the new policy takes effect, each soldier will have to sit down with his or her leaders and “self-identify” all their tattoos for review. Any found in violation will have to come off at the soldier’s own expense, the policy states.

The policy applies to the Army only. The other service branches have their own military grooming standards.

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