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Air Force officials reinforce tattoo, body alteration policy

By | Dec. 10, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force senior leaders here have taken steps to ensure Air Force dress and personal appearance standards are applied consistently across the service.

"It's about enforcing and maintaining Air Force standards," said Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, the deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel. "Our focus is to ensure our Airmen uphold a professional military image no matter the environment; whether at their home-base, Air Force Basic Military Training, or in a joint deployed environment."

Air Force officials recently identified inconsistent application of the tattoo screening process following a review of more than 6,000 trainees at BMT. The review revealed more than 80 individuals did not comply with the Air Force's tattoo policy standards.

"The Air Force tattoo policy remains unchanged since March 1998," General Newton said. "Air Force instructions spell out our professional standards and responsibilities.

They outline the excellence that defines us as Airmen.

Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance, states "Excessive tattoos and brands will not be exposed or visible while in uniform." Excessive is defined as any tattoo/brands exceeding one-quarter of the exposed body part and those above the collarbone when wearing an open collar uniform. The AFI also outlines the current provisions and prohibitions to include standards governing piercings and body alterations.

Failure of Airmen to observe the standards outlined in the AFI is a violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

"Adherence to Air Force instructions is the responsibility of each Airman and an important element of the Air Force core values: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do," General Newton said. "These core values are essential to the profession of arms and form the basis for Air Force policies and guidance."

For the complete AFI, visit the Air Force Portal.