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New tattoo rules, camouflage on the way, SMA says

Sep. 23, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler speaks to soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., in January. Chandler said a new camouflage pattern will soon be unveiled. The Army is also about to ban tattoos below the elbows and knees or above the neckline, according to a report.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler speaks to soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., in January. Chandler said a new camouflage pattern will soon be unveiled. The Army is also about to ban tattoos below the elbows and knees or above the neckline, according to a report. (Bob Harrison / Army)
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Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler told a gathering of troops in Afghanistan that the Army’s new camouflage pattern will soon be unveiled and likely phased in next year.

The Army is also about to ban tattoos below the elbows and knees or above the neckline, according to a report in Stars & Stripes.

The new policy requires only a little ink from the Army secretary’s signature, Chandler told the troops.

The top enlisted soldier said the next camouflage uniform will come in different colors for different environments and the pattern will be similar to the “MultiCam” now used in Afghanistan, according to the Star & Stripes report.

MultiCam is made by Crye Precision LLCB, of New York City, one of four industry competitors that were identified as finalists in the camouflage competition.

The Army in 2010 began shopping for three new combat uniforms — a woodland variant, a desert variant and a “transitional” variant that covers everything in between.

The goal is to replace the often-criticized Universal Camouflage Pattern. Twenty-two patterns were tested from June 2010 through September 2011. Part of that evaluation included a calibrated computer program that allowed 900 soldiers to rate how well all existing camouflage patterns blended in 45 terrains.

Fifty uniforms for each camouflage pattern were put through extensive field trials last summer. The trials placed each variant in practically every global environment and terrain, included two major field exercises, and relied heavily on feedback from soldiers who measured the time and distance required to identify patterns in a multitude of settings.

A change in the tattoo policy has been in the works for more than 18 months. Leadership initially said the wrist line would be the limit, but the stronger standard looks to keep soldiers’ skin clear below the elbow. Existing tattoos will be likely be grandfathered, though this may not apply to vulgar or offensive ink. Soldiers will have to remove such tattoos at their own expense if they want to stay in uniform.

The pending changes are part of a comprehensive review of Army Regulation 670-1 led by Chandler. While some soldiers have voiced opposition to such changes, Chandler has reiterated that his goal is to project a uniform and professional Army.

“You chose to join the Army,” Chandler has said. “The Army didn't choose to join you.”

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