- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The U.S. Air Force will roll back its restrictions on tattoos next month so that would-be recruits can roll back their sleeves without being rejected, military officials announced Tuesday.

A rule that currently limits how much ink a servicemember can show will bite the dust Feb. 1 in a bid to boost recruitment within the youngest branch of the nation’s armed forces, according to a press release put out by the Pentagon this week.

“As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified airmen as possible, we periodically review our accessions policies,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said Tuesday. “In this instance, we identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality.

Specifically the policy change will rein in a rule that currently prohibits airmen from sporting tattoos on their chest, back, arms and legs if the ink appears on 25 percent or more of the exposed body part.

The “25 percent” rule will be nixed starting next month, in turn enabling individuals with large tattoos such as back pieces and arm sleeves to enlist and serve with fewer obstacles, according to the announcement.

Roughly 10 percent of Air Force applicants who met with field recruiters recently were determined to have tattoos deemed potentially disqualifying, the statement said.

Tattoos on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and scalp will remain banned, as will any designs deemed obscene, gang-related or otherwise offensive, while hand tattoos will be restricted to one single-band design per hand, the announcement said.

The Marines announced a similar rule change last June allowing recruits to have an unlimited number of approved tattoos on the condition they are kept properly covered.

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