Changes are coming, and so is an updated Army Regulation 670-1 (Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia). For those who aren’t familiar, the AR 670-1 is like the Bible of military appearance. It details, to the fraction of an inch, the wear of the uniform, the placement of badges, patches, and awards. It dictates all the standards for what is — and more importantly, what is not — allowed in uniform. Have a question about how to trim your mustache? 670-1. Want to know what color socks to wear? 670-1. It’ll even help you know how to trim your fingernails the Army way.

In short, if it’s not in AR 670-1, it’s not authorized.

That’s why the recent announcement of changes to the regulation has so many people up in arms. After all, this isn’t just a little memo about hairstyles, this is a rewrite of the text that dictates the look and feel of the entire U.S. Army.

Revised Army regulation and grooming standards support diversity, equity, and inclusion, and prioritize people.

Oh Really? Does it actually?

In addition, the Army is also revising its grooming standards as part of Army Regulation 670-1 to support its People First priority, diversity, and inclusion efforts.

“The Army must continue to put people first by fostering a culture of trust that accepts the experiences and backgrounds of every Soldier and civilian,” said Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel Lt. Gen. Gary Brito. “Our diverse workforce is a competitive advantage, and the Army must continue to offer fair treatment, access, and opportunity across the force.”

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“The Army has maintained a longstanding tradition of Soldiers presenting a clean and professional appearance,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Anthony Clark from the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (G-1). “A professional appearance is an outward manifestation of the pride they have in themselves and in service to our country.”

New grooming standards, which will be reflected in a forthcoming memo (ALARACT), will also go into effect in February. Approved revisions to Army Regulation 670-1 include optional wear of earrings, lipstick, and nail colors for women and clear nail polish for men. Earrings will remain unauthorized in field environments, combat-related deployments, or locations where access to normal hygiene is not available.

AR 670-1 regulation changes
A U.S. Navy Sailor wearing light makeup and earrings.

So what I understand is that a woman can now look more “womanly;” however, a man cannot look more “manly” by having a beard?

Approved hairstyle changes include no minimum hair length for female soldiers, thus allowing for multiple hairstyles (i.e., braiding, twists or locks). Female soldiers will be able to wear ponytails if unable to form a bun. They may wear long ponytails while conducting physical training, in combat uniform, or when wearing equipment such as, but not limited to, combat helmets.

So basically all the time.

So what I understand is that a woman can have a ponytail with no minimum length, but a man can’t do the same? How in the world does this “support diversity, equity, and inclusion and people first priority?”

“In an effort to stop hair damage and loss stemming from hairstyles like the bun, the Army approved healthier hairstyle options that are more inclusive of various natural styles,” said Clark.

(Insert eye-rolling here)

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What about our Native American brothers and sisters? Are we doing anything for the Native men to help support their heritage or religious beliefs? Do they not smoke peyote to gain spiritual enlightenment and direction. Do they not perform many ceremonies and dances to honor spirits and ceremonies that incorporate many symbols of their faiths? They do. However, in the Army, they still cannot grow their hair to prove their manhood.

What about our Afghan Muslim brothers? They grow beards to show their manhood. But we still can’t do it in our Army.

Our Iraqi brothers grow a large bountiful mustache as part of their manhood. A mustache that would even impress Tom Selleck and Geraldo Rivera.

Conversely, we have made some improvements, such as allowing Norse Heathens to grow beards or Sikhs to wear turbans.

AR 670-1 allows for Norse Heathens to wear beards
Acting first sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Hopper, now deployed in Afghanistan with the 3665th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) is the first Nevada Army Guard soldier to receive a religious accommodation for a beard. Hopper received his religious accommodation based on his Norse pagan beliefs. Two other Nevada Army Guard pagan soldiers are also pursuing a religious accommodation for a beard. (Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka)

Norse Heathens believe that the beard is an extension of the soul and the only clear indicator of a man. Additionally, they believe that a beardless man is an attempt to hide one’s identity, become more effeminate, and break one’s oath to the gods as in converting to Christianity. The Army now recognizes both Norse and Swedish Heathens and allows them to have beards.

The most recent Special Forces Qualification Course class had a Sikh, a Norse Heathen, and a woman. Sounds like the start of a bad joke.

AR 670-1 changes
Army Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi poses in Times Square, New York in 2010, wearing his U.S. Army ACU Digital Camouflage turban along with his ACU uniform. A new wave of Sikh soldiers enlisting in the U.S. Army will be allowed to wear the traditional turban and beard in Basic Combat Training. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

So while the Army claims to support diversity, equity, and inclusion, and people first, it should read something more like:

“Supporting Woman Through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Some.”

So why can’t we grow a beard? And don’t give me some uniformity answer or some sergeant major BS about disciple.

A beard inspection held at a base in Oman where British Royal Air Force 3rd Fighter Squadron is currently deployed. (RAF)

We could say that both the British and German military are near-peer, meaning that their military is comparable to ours in capability. Yet, they are allowed to have beards. So what are we really doing here?

I’ve heard that we can’t have beards because of the seal of the gas mask. Has anyone actually tried this? I have on several occasions. I have also done it with O2 doing Military Free Fall (MFF) jumps at 25,000 feet and also during a chamber ride (compression chamber). So let’s go ahead and do an actual study or just drop this point.

Currently, an online petition is going around on change.org to allow for the U.S. Army to grow beards in a garrison environment.

With all of the progressive changes in the U.S. Army Regulation 670-1, it is only right that soldiers should be able to grow beards in a garrison environment. If earrings, ponytails, and nail polish do not take away from the image of professionalism, then a beard should not either.