- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2014

The U.S. Army has a new rule book for grooming standards and among the just-released caveats: No commissions for enlisted members who sport more than four visible tattoos below their elbows or knees — no exceptions.

Enlisted members with more than four tattoos that can be seen below either elbow or knee cannot be granted their requests to move into the commissioned officer ranks, even if they had their body art before the new rules were formed, Army Times reported.

“They are not grandfathered,” the media outlet said.

The new grooming standards were leaked online on Thursday. The rules themselves, approved March 6 by Army Secretary John McHugh, are due to take effect in just a few days.

Among the rules: Sideburns cannot extend beneath the bottom of the ear canal. Tattoos are not allowed on members’ faces, heads, necks and hands, and sleeve tattoos or arms and legs are banned. Tattoos that are visible can’t be larger than the person’s hand. And commanders will now have to perform annual checks on their charges to check for any new tattoos that violate the new policy, Army Times reported.

Others rules include an allowance for female soldiers to wear their hair in ponytails during physical training, and one for all to carry plain black umbrellas while wearing “service, dress and mess uniforms,” Army Times said. Those wearing field or utility uniforms are still prohibited from using umbrellas, however.

The new regulations hearken back to pre-2006 days, when the military watered town standards — especially on tattoos — to grow ranks, senior officials said to Army Times.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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