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US military eases rules on religious beards, tattoos

Published on Jan 23, 2014 7:04 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US military eased restrictions on Wednesday on religious tattoos, hairstyles or apparel that troops can display while in uniform, as long as it does not jeopardise "unit cohesion".

The Pentagon said the rules it unveiled marked the first time the agency has laid out a general policy on the issue.

"The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members unless they have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline," spokesman Lieutenant Commander Nate Christensen said in a statement.

As long as a unit's mission is not put at risk or safety jeopardised, the regulations would allow an exception to standard "clean-cut" grooming standards on religious grounds, including facial hair or other hairstyles, tattoos and piercings that reflect a soldier's spiritual faith.

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