Army tattoo policy tightens: No ink below the elbow

Army tattoo policy: The new US Army tattoo policy will ban any tattoo below the knee or elbow. The tattoo policy also forbids tattoos above the neck.

The Army intends to tighten its restrictions on soldiers' tattoos.

Under a proposed rule change, new recruits would not be allowed tattoos visible below the elbow or knee or above the neckline. Current soldiers would be permitted to keep any tattoos not deemed racist, sexist or extremist. But those soldiers must itemize those tattoos with the Army to ensure that no new ink has been added.

The proposed change was described to soldiers in Afghanistan on Saturday by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler, the top enlisted soldier. He said Army Secretary John McHugh favors the change but has not yet formally approved it.

Officials at Army headquarters at the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that McHugh had not yet made the change final. The new rules, which are an update of Army regulation 670-1,  also cover things such as make-up and fingernail polish, hair styles, body piercings, and the length of sideburns. Once approved the new rules would go into effect within 30-60 days.

The change was first confirmed in Stars and Stripes, which reported that Chandler said:

"When a soldier gets a tattoo that contains an curse word on the side of his neck, “I question ‘Why there?’ Are you trying to stand out?” Chandler said.

He said the Army wants soldiers to stand out, but because of their achievements, not because of the way they look."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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