Tattoos stay in line with regulations

By Pfc. Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — When it comes to getting a tattoo, Soldiers should be aware of the stipulations regarding body placement and design, as covered in Army Regulation 670-1.

The regulation states that tattoos or brands that are visible in the Class A uniform worn with long sleeves and trousers are prohibited.

"That would include tattoos on the hands, neck and face," said Capt. Christopher Czyryca, Inspector General Office.

While this applies to everyone, females with ankle tattoos may be in violation of the regulation half the time.

"Soldiers cannot have tattoos visible while wearing [the Class A uniform]," said Capt. Grace Gallagher, Judge Advocate General's office. "Females with tattoos visible on their lower legs must wear the Class A pants, not the skirt."

The regulation also provides a guideline to tattoo design stating that extremist, indecent, sexist or racist tattoos are prohibited regardless of where they are placed. This portion of the regulation is ultimately at the discretion of a Soldier's commander.

"A tattoo, in terms of content, cannot be prejudicial to good order and discipline," Czyryca said. "Commanders determine the standard for that."

Czyryca elaborated that gang tattoos, extremist tattoos - such as white supremacist groups - pornographic and indecent tattoos are considered illegal tattoos.

AR 670-1 defines indecent tattoos as tattoos that are grossly offensive to modesty, decency and moral sense due to their vulgar and filthy nature or overbearing sexual connotations.

If a Soldier has a tattoo that the Soldier's commander feels is in violation of AR 670-1, he or she may be subject to a written counseling, in which the commander ensures the Soldier understands the Army's tattoo policy and gives him or her the opportunity to seek medical advice regarding removal of the tattoo.

Soldiers who opt to have a tattoo removed can do so at Army medical facilities.

"Depending on which post [a Soldier is] at, they do have processes," said Sgt. 1st Class Terry Mitchell, Inspector General's office. "At Fort Bragg, they do have the dermatologists that do the tattoo removal."

If a Soldier refuses to remove a tattoo that is in violation of AR 670-1, the commander is authorized to recommend the Soldier for discharge. These regulations are not limited to active duty personnel.

"The regulations for appropriate and inappropriate tattoos are the same across the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard," Cyzryca said. There is a fallacy that Soldiers, who came into the Army with existing tattoos in violation of AR 670-1, are "grandfathered." Pre-existing tattoos are not exempt from inquiry and punishment, Cyzryca stated.

Editor's Note: Pfc. Trevino is assigned to the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. He is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.


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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Spc. Dustin Guillory, 644th Transportation Company, has a tattoo of a cross on his right shoulder above his first tattoo, the tribal band around the bicep.

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Jose Jimenez, KBR Movement Control Team and tattoo artist in Killeen, Texas, has a tattoo of the Virgin Mary on his right forearm. Tattoos express many individual things to people, including religious beliefs.