Inked: U.S. Army Loosens Tattoo Policy

A U.S. soldier with a tattooed arm patrols in the southern Iraq town of Umm Qasr in March 2003. Reuters

The U.S. Army this week announced a new policy on soldier tattoos that removes restrictions on the number and sizes of tattoos allowed, according to the Army Times.

"Society is changing its view of tattoos and we have to change along with that," Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno told the Times. "It makes sense. Soldiers have grown up in an era when tattoos are much more acceptable and we have to change along with that."

Although the rules have been loosened, neck, head, wrist and hand tattoos remain banned, as do tattoos containing extremist, racist or sexist content.

"As long as it's not visible in the Army uniform...that's the spirit of what we went after," Sergeant Major Dan Dailey told the Times. As an exception to the restriction on hand tattoos, the military will allow wedding band tattoos.

Previous regulations stated that tattoos couldn't be bigger than the soldier's hand and allowed only four tattoos below the elbows and knees. These regulations were unpopular, the Times reported.

"This is very much a morale issue for the United States Army," Dailey added.

In November, artists in California put together a "War Ink" exhibit, dedicated to veterans with tattoos commemorating their service. Most of the veterans who participated had large tattoos and more than four of them.