The U.S. Army will announce new restrictions on tattoos in a forthcoming update to regulations on the appearance of soldiers.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler confirmed to Stars and Stripes over the weekend that ink visible below the elbows or knees, as well as tattoos visible above the neck, will soon be forbidden for soldiers. Existing tattoos in those areas may be grandfathered in, however.
The changes are set to be announced in an update to Army Regulation 670-1, which already prohibits tattoos anywhere on the head, face and neck above the class A uniform collar. Army Regulation 670-1 also contains a ban on ink that is considered extremist, indecent, sexist or racist. Those restrictions will remain in place.
The new rules will reportedly lay out a process by which soldiers can meet with their unit leaders and "self identify" their tattoos. Chandler told Stars and Stripes that soldiers will be responsible for covering the cost to remove any ink that violates the new ban. Under the previous version of Army Regulation 670-1, commanders were not allowed to order the removal of a tattoo or brand. They were, however, expected to consult with soldiers about potential violations and inform them of medical procedures for possible removal.
Chandler said over the weekend that the new regulations are awaiting signature by the secretary, and that they could be officially in place within the next 30 to 60 days.
A forum on Military.com shows the popularity of tattoos on the lower arms or legs. While that ink may be exempt from the new regulations, soldiers looking to get new tattoos may run into issues when the rules are updated.