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Currently, both airmen and guardians are not allowed to grow a beard unless approved for medical or religious accommodation. 

Currently, both airmen and guardians are not allowed to grow a beard unless approved for medical or religious accommodation.  (Jackson Manske/U.S. Air Force)

Cmdr. William T. Riker wore the short, boxed variety on the bridge of the starship Enterprise. His predecessor, Cmdr. Spock, sported the circle style in the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of the original “Star Trek.”

Now the U.S. Space Force is taking one small step toward permitting its guardians to grow their own beards.

A memo leaked to the popular Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page says a pilot program would examine the impacts of facial hair on male service members in uniform. The program could begin as early as Sept. 1, according to the memo signed by Space Force Brig. Gen. Devin Pepper, deputy director of strategy, plans and policy for Space Command.

But the leaked memo is far from the last word on the beard test shot.

"The screenshots [on Facebook] reflect a volunteer's recommendation for how to proceed if a proposal for a pilot program is approved,” Air Force spokeswomen Deana Heitzman told Stars and Stripes by email Wednesday. "The proposal is being discussed within the Black/African American Employment Strategy Team, one of the Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Groups, but has not been approved."

Heitzman did not comment on whether only guardians would take part in the pilot program or if airmen would be included.

Individuals participating in the program would still be required to keep “facial hair neat in appearance, shaped appropriately, not faddish and no longer than a quarter-inch,” according to the memo.

Currently, both airmen and guardians are not allowed to grow a beard unless approved for medical or religious accommodation. Even then they must maintain their beards in a neat, clean and professional image not to exceed a quarter-inch in length.

This is not the first time a leaked memo on facial hair has surfaced. In May, a Department of the Air Force draft guidance appeared on social media that proposed allowing airmen and guardians to grow a mustache a quarter-inch past the corner of their lips. The policy has yet to be updated to authorize longer mustaches.

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.

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