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Friday, March 24, 2023

Let it grow: Sailors, Marines disgruntled by beard ban find favorable reception to challenges | Stars and Stripes

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he US Navy’s 38-year-old ban on beards is being questioned, with some retired sailors asking if it’s time for change. A recent court ruling in favor of three Sikh Marine Corps recruits who sued on religious freedom grounds has paved the way for an injunction to allow them to keep their beards and turbans during boot camp. The ban, which was instituted in 1985, is a change from the service’s history in which sailors were allowed to wear beards. The Navy is one of the few services that ban beards, although they make limited exceptions, such as medical waivers, to allow beards. The Navy is considering the issue, with the results of a study on the effect of beards on gas mask function due to be released this year.



  1. Yes, a beard will make a gas mask or respirator exceptionally less effective, and in most cases essentially useless if in an actual contaminated or toxic environment. See thousands of ASHREA tests & studies. The Marine Corps has always banned beards, with the exceptions being for a need to “fit in” and be unnoticed or less noticable – mission essential.
    Same/similar for female Marines in combat likely or hazardous billets; when one or more tasks/roles have an essential qualification of “female” as team member, there ARE very capable & qualified Marines, who happen to be female. Fairly obvious operating in Islamic prominent regions, some African & other maternal cultures.
    Beards as a tactical / operational imperative or option – few & far between. I belive typically beards are not compatible with hygienic & uniformity concerns, along with respiratory equipment disfunction concerns. Not familiar with the life safety – flight readiness issues; though I do recall there can be issues with facial hair for flight crews.
    Likely a wait-n-see if anything has changed, resolved, or been “worked around”.


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