The US Army is determining whether or not to bring back the beard, engaging in a study that could theoretically lead to the average soldier bearing scruff for the first time in over a century.

While certain personnel -such as those practicing the Sikh religion- have exemptions to strict grooming standards, soldiers have been pushing and rallying for the ability to grow beards for some time. However, it is only recently that the push to research whether or not beards could actually be feasible has picked up speed.

“It’s more driven from the religious accommodations group,” said Sergeant Major Anthony Moore, US Army G-1 of uniform policy. “Soldiers would ask here and there, but it’s gained traction since the Army directive for religious accommodations.”

Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) Dan Dailey has heard the suggestions as well, particularly after exceptions were made for turbans, hijabs, and dreadlocks.

“They said, okay, if we’re going to do religious accommodations, we have to be inclusive,” Dailey said.

In light of requests and petitions, the SMA said he isn’t opposed to beards and sees them as in the same vein of tattooes, something he jokingly refers to as a “trending phenomenon.”  A petition started by Ed Beebe on Change.org has received over 16,000 signatures for military beard approval.

“I’m not opposed to having a beard,” Dailey said. “I’ve socialized this with several people, including [Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley]- how do we do that to maintain standards? I think that we have to continue that study.”

According to the Army Times, once the study to determine beard suitability is complete, it will be discussed by Dailey’s senior enlisted counsel and then briefed to the Army Chief of Staff, with the final update to AR 670-1 requiring the signature of the Secretary of the Army.

“Authorizing the wear of beards in the Army, in addition to approved religious accommodations policy, is a topic that soldiers have inquired about recently across the force,” Dailey noted. “As of now, there are no plans to change the policy. Army leaders and researchers are currently reviewing the wear of beards by soldiers in the Army. Any potential change in policy will be made with careful consideration to the professionalism, standards, discipline, readiness and safety of all of our soldiers.”

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