Army to Allow Long Ponytails in All Uniforms, Top Enlisted Leader Says

U.S. Army soldier lets a group of Afghan girls play with her ponytail.
U.S. Army service member lets a group of Afghan girls play with her ponytail during a mission led by U.S. soldiers. (Sgt. Canaan Radcliffe/U.S. Army photo)

Another big change is coming to Army grooming standards, the service's top enlisted leader revealed Thursday night.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston disrupted a discussion of rumored changes on Twitter by announcing that, yes, the Army would permit long ponytails for women, regardless of uniform in an upcoming change.

"How about I save you the trouble? The long ponytail was originally voted against," Grinston wrote. "But after hearing from our Soldiers, the panel asked if they could reconsider their decision. Working out the details, but 1-2 ponytails in all uniforms, down to the shoulder blade."

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Grinston did not say when that change would be made official, and added that the precise rule was still being determined.

"Likely something along the lines of 'Will not extend past the shoulder blades when standing at the position of attention,'" he wrote in a following tweet.

The news comes on the heels of a January Army grooming standards overhaul that permitted women for the first time to buzz their heads and wear long ponytails during physical fitness training and with the Army Combat Uniform, or ACU. Long ponytails remained off-limits in the Army service and dress uniforms, though.

That change is part of a military-wide trend to reevaluate policies, particularly those governing grooming standards and hairstyles, that might disadvantage women and service members of color.

The Air Force moved in January to permit long ponytails and braids that extend to the bottom of the shoulder blades in all uniforms. The service also updated policy to allow bangs.

"This is one way we are working to improve the lives of our soldiers ... by putting people first, understanding their concerns, taking action when necessary and maintaining their razor-sharp edge of readiness," Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, deputy chief of staff for Army Personnel, told reporters in a January round table announcing the initial slate of grooming changes.

But soldiers and other service members hoping to see a change to permit men to sport beards likely will continue to be disappointed.

Grinston was curt in response to a Twitter commenter who asked if grooming "changes and improvements" for men were on the way.

"Considering the reg was originally written for men, I'm not sure what changes you think we need," he said. "Also, asking on social media isn't going to get it done. Send the form up to G1[personnel] and we'll discuss it there."

-- Matthew Cox contributed.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

Related: Army OKs Buzz Cuts, Long Ponytails in Grooming Standards Overhaul

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