Washington, DC (by Lance M. Bacon/Army Times) -- Senior Army leaders are putting the final touches on regulation changes that cover everything from tattoos and makeup to cellphones and civilian attire.
And soldiers likely will face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice if they fail to follow any of new rules.
"You chose to join the Army," said Raymond Chandler, the sergeant major of the Army who is leading a review of Army Regulation 670-1. "The Army didn't choose to join you."
While some soldiers have voiced opposition, Chandler has reiterated that his goal is to project a uniform and professional Army.
Final tweaking will take place later this month when Chandler meets with his board of directors, which is composed of key command sergeants major. Final approval must come from the Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, and Army Secretary John McHugh.
"Bathing suits and midriffs are not OK in the post exchange and commissary," Chandler told a gathering of 600-plus soldiers at Fort Jackson, S.C., earlier this year. "I don't want to see all that."
He has been equally vocal on tattoos, especially those above the neck line or containing vulgarities.
"The appearance of tattoos detracts from a uniformed service," Chandler told the Fort Jackson soldiers. "The uniformed services, we all generally look the same. Now, if you have a tattoo that draws attention to yourself, you have to ask the question, are you a person who is committed to the Army? Because the Army says you are part of the same organization. We all generally look the same."
"Yes, we want you to set yourself apart and do great things and so on, but that does not mean tattooing yourself or doing other extreme things that draw attention to you, the individual," he said. "You are part of something larger."
Chandler listed examples of inappropriate tattoos he has seen in the past nine months. Every one was on a noncommissioned officer inked while on active duty.
While waivers have allowed some people to enter the service with tattoos not acceptable under present standards, soldiers never have been allowed to get them while on active duty. Even worse in Chandler's eyes is that none of the soldiers he used as examples were counseled for their error.
Chandler and other senior leaders say these tattoos should be removed if a soldier wants to remain on active duty. Soldiers with these tattoos could face punitive action if a new policy does not allow their ornamentation to be grandfathered in.
Hair also is getting scrutiny. Some soldiers have pushed the envelope with pointy tip and mutton chop sideburns that would make Elvis envious. Leaders responded with a new regulation that would not allow sideburns to extend below the spot where your ear connects with your head. Chandler wants to know whether that extreme is necessary or whether clarity and stronger enforcement of the current regulation could solve the problem.
Natural -- or found in nature -- hair color also will be considered a must.
An African-American senior sergeant major who dyed her eyebrows blond would be in violation, Chandler said. Likewise, another soldier who tried to convince Chandler that her purple hair instead was auburn, a natural color and therefore acceptable, would have to change her hair color.
Pending changes include these:
-- Prohibiting eating, drinking, smoking, or talking on cellphones while walking.
-- Wearing shorter sideburns.
-- Being clean shaven on and off duty, even during leave.
-- Putting hair into ponytails during physical training for women.
-- Prohibiting men from wearing cosmetics, including nail polish.
-- Wearing cosmetics "conservatively" for women. That means no unnatural or exaggerated appearance and no fake eyelashes. Nail polish for women can be worn only in service, mess or dress uniforms.
-- Limiting women's fingernail length to a quarter of an inch. No fake nails, add-ons or extensions will be authorized.
-- Prohibiting visible tattoos above the neck line when the physical fitness uniform is worn. Tattoos will not extend below the wrist line and not be visible on the hands. Sleeve tattoos will be prohibited. (Officials may allow service members with existing tattoos to keep them.)
-- Prohibiting visible body piercings on or off duty. Males will not be allowed to wear earrings at any time. Ear gauging will not be allowed.
-- Prohibiting dental ornamentation and gold teeth.
-- Allowing hand ironing only for Army combat uniforms; they cannot be commercially pressed.
-- Allowing only black or the uniforms' color print for bags worn over the shoulder without logos.
-- Defining civilian clothes standards better, both on and off post.
-- Allowing men to carry a black umbrella with the Army Service Uniform.