New Air Force appearance rules add headbands, leave out beards
Stars and Stripes March 22, 2023
The Air Force and the Space Force still aren’t budging on beards.
Changes in the services’ dress and appearance regulations released Tuesday make accommodations for items ranging from togs to totes, but airmen and guardians hoping for relaxed facial hair standards were disappointed.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass tried to discourage bristling reactions to the news, issuing a memo saying that she is “keenly aware” that the service’s beard ban “is at the forefront for many.”
She said the Air Force’s task is “to remove any stigma, or personal bias,” toward airmen who have received religious or medical exemptions allowing them to have facial hair.
Her push for wider acceptance of beards in the Air Force despite their prohibition in most cases is at odds with recent comments by the senior enlisted adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Speaking earlier this month at the Air and Space War Symposium, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez derided beards as nothing more than a fashion statement, and he referred to calls for an end to the ban as a waste of time.
The list of changes that will be implemented is wide-ranging and takes effect April 1.
Airmen soon will be allowed to wear headbands and specified parkas in cold weather. Operational Camouflage Pattern patrol and flight caps also will be allowed to be worn with the flight duty uniform.
Meanwhile, the maximum number of badges they can wear above their service tape is being increased to four.
Logo restrictions on purses, handbags and gym bags are eased in the new regulations, and olive drab green will be added to the list of acceptable backpack colors.
In addition, base commanders are authorized by the new regulations to designate child care centers as no-hat, no-salute zones. And for airmen or guardians carrying children in areas outside a base child development center, saluting will no longer be mandatory.
The updates to the two services’ regulations can be found online at the Air Force’s website.