The Armed Forces are made up of individual soldiers, but their ability to work together as a unit contributes to the military's overall effectiveness. Part of that ability includes looking like a cohesive group as well.
To maintain that image of a disciplined and coordinated group of servicemembers, the Army will be publishing a new set of uniform guidelines that will govern how soldiers are expected to groom and present themselves while on active duty, Military.com reported. The updated regulations are expected to be return the Army's uniform policies back to stricter pre-2006 levels.
Policing military fashion
Military.com explained that the upcoming Army Regulation 670-1 will compile new grooming policies for soldiers that have previously been released in individual messages. The new stance is expected to take a much stricter approach on certain embellishments popular with troops in recent years, such as tattoos.
Army Secretary John McHugh told the website that troops can expect the new regulations to take effect within the next few weeks.
Though tattoos are no longer expected to be allowed below the elbow or knee, soldiers with preexisting ink will not be penalized, according to the Army Times. With only a few weeks remaining to take advantage of the grandfathering process, troops may be scrambling to get or finish designs for their life after service before the new policies kick in.
Providing comprehensive information
The Army is compiling all relevant information for soldiers into an easily digestible pamphlet format, as opposed to the more than 50 individual communications sent out over the last several years.
"We are dedicated to ensuring soldiers and leaders have easy access to policies to ensure our Army maintains a professional, neat, and Soldierly appearance, which is the foundation of our profession," the Army said in a statement to the Army Times.
Military officials also indicated that the new policies are aimed at preserving "a conservative military image" that has proved pivotal for for troops effectiveness, self-discipline and sense of identity as a servicemember of the U.S. Military.
The Army Times speculated that the policy change may be related to recent sequestration cuts that will reduce troop strength to around 420,000. The regulations were loosened in 2006 to help recruiting efforts, but with the expected drop in numbers, the Army Times explained that officials may feel more confident in enforcing stricter uniform and grooming regulations without regard to larger questions of military effectiveness.