Will the Marines Soon Allow More Ink, as in Tattoos? Should They?

The Marine Corp Guard participate in a March-in-Review at 2014 National POW/MIA Recognition Ceremony at the Pentagon River Parade Field in Washington, D.C., September 19, 2014. (DoD photo by Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)(Released)

BREAKING – According to a leaked email apparently sent by a sergeant major from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, the U.S. Marine Corps may soon be loosening its policy on Marines sporting ink. The email with details of a potential new policy was posted to the unofficial USMC Reddit page Tuesday morning but quickly deleted.

As the consistently most traditional military branch, and perhaps the most image-conscious, the Corps has continued to enforce the strictest ink policy in the Department of Defense.

The Marine Times reported that if true: “the Marine Corps may soon allow sleeve tattoos, an unlimited number of tattoos for officers, and allow future recruiters and drill instructors to sport visible ink.”

Currently, Marine Corps officers are restricted to four visible tattoos while wearing the physical training uniform. All Marines face size restrictions for visible tattoos, while almost all tattoos on the neck, face, elbow, hands or knees are banned.

Maj. Jim Stenger confirmed to Marine Corps Times Tuesday morning that the Marines “are currently evaluating the tattoo policy and we will publish an update shortly.” However, notes the Marine Times, “Stenger said the email on Reddit likely came from a Marine leader giving a heads up on possible changes coming to Marine Corps policy. He insisted that no decisions on the tattoo policy are final.”

“That’s all predecisional and nothing in there has been decided upon by the decision-makers in the process of approving any changes,” Stenger said in DoD bureaucratese.

According to the leaked email, most restrictions on size, number and placement of tattoos will be gone with the Marine Corps focusing more on the content of the tattoos.

As the Marine Corps Times explained:

If the Corps does change its tattoo policy to allow all but some hand, face and neck tattoos, one of the bigger complaints by Marines will disappear.

On Wednesday the Corps asked Marines which non-monetary incentives would convince them to reenlist.

Apparently, more ink was high on their list.  Now the question is – Should the Marines loosen their standards? Sound Off Below. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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