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British Army Allows Soldiers To Grow Beards

Soldiers and officers serving in the British Army are now permitted to grow beards, marking a significant shift in the Army’s appearance policy.

Under the new regulations, beards and moustaches must be kept tidy and well-groomed, subject to regular inspections. This change, effective immediately, brings the Army in line with other branches of the armed forces, making it the last to revise its stance on facial hair.

The decision to allow beards follows extensive deliberation within the Army over the years, including a recent thorough review of its appearance guidelines. According to an Army spokesperson speaking in the news, this review process involved careful consideration of feedback from personnel before ultimately deciding to enact the policy change.

“We have listened to our people and acted,” the spokesperson affirmed.

While the new directive grants soldiers and officers the freedom to grow facial hair, there may still be circumstances where individuals are required to be clean-shaven. In such cases, they will be instructed to shave accordingly.

This move is seen as a strategic effort by Army leadership to appeal to potential recruits, particularly among younger demographics who increasingly embrace facial hair as part of their personal style. Comparable military forces in countries like Denmark, Germany, and Belgium already allow their troops to grow beards.

Notably, troops adhering to certain religious beliefs, including Sikhs, Muslims, and Rastafarians, were previously permitted to maintain full beards, provided it did not compromise operational effectiveness, health, or safety.

The policy shift was formally announced by Warrant Officer Class 1 Paul Carney, the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer, via a four-minute video message to troops, as reported by The Times. Carney acknowledged the complexities involved in reaching this decision, citing the involvement of various stakeholders, including political figures and allies.

Grant Shapps, the Defense Secretary, had criticized the previous ban on beards within the Army, branding it “ridiculous” and urging for modernization. Following the implementation of the new policy, Shapps welcomed the change, citing a YouGov poll indicating a growing prevalence of facial hair among men. He emphasized the importance of adapting recruitment practices to reflect evolving societal norms.

While the Royal Air Force has permitted facial hair since 2019 and the Royal Navy has long allowed beards and moustaches, the British Army’s adoption of this policy marks a significant step towards aligning its appearance regulations with contemporary standards.

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