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The US army has issued new regulations trying to establish uniform standards of personal appearance for its troops. A particularly controversial part of the regulations is a list of prohibited hair styles for black women.

Army’s Ban on Some Popular Hairstyles Raises Ire of Black Female Soldiers

In reaction to a new Army regulation banning numerous hairstyles — twists, dreadlocks and large cornrows — popular with black women, the 16 women of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked Mr. Hagel to overturn the regulation on behalf of the 26,700 African-American women on active duty in the Army. The regulation comes at the same time as a new Army rule banning tattoos on the face, neck, hands, fingers and lower arms of recruits.

Both regulations are among new grooming standards that critics say are meant to further weed people out of an Army reducing its size from its post-9/11 peak of 570,000 to as low as 420,000 in the years to come. Representative Marcia L. Fudge, the Ohio Democrat who is chairwoman of the black caucus, said she had been struck in recent visits to military bases by how many soldiers — black and white — said they felt they were being pushed out of the military. The new regulations, announced on March 31, have intensified that feeling, she said.

At the root of the concern about the Army regulations, many black women said, is a lack of understanding about black hair, coupled with a norm that uses the hair of white women as its baseline. While black hair comes in all textures, much of it is deeply curly, making it difficult, unless chemically straightened, to pull back into a bun or to hang loose off the face in a neat, uniform way.

“Our hair is kinky,” said BriGette McCoy, a former Army specialist, her voice getting angrier as she spoke. “It is genetic, it is hereditary, there is nothing we can do about it. And to have someone tell you that because your hair comes out of your scalp that way, you have to go and change it, when no one else is required to change that about themselves?”

This reminds me of the claims that were made in an attempt to hold onto the DADT regulations. Being forced to associate with people who were openly gay or lesbian would undermine the morale critical to an effective fighting force. The assumption here seems to be that white men simply couldn't trust somebody who wears her hair in corn rows to have their back in battle. This is just a particularly silly example of how the military remains the ultimate bastion of straight white male privilege.

I look forward to the entertainment value of the army's white splaining efforts to establish this policy as a reasonable necessity.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The army needs a stupidity editor. (16+ / 0-)

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:42:27 AM PDT

  •  Can't let Black women avail themselves (10+ / 0-)

    to the lifelong benefits service bestows.

  •  is this a bar to recruitment (7+ / 0-)
    The regulation comes at the same time as a new Army rule banning tattoos on the face, neck, hands, fingers and lower arms of recruits.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:52:56 AM PDT

  •  i don't think it's quite as seedy as you make out (8+ / 0-)

    When I was in the Navy, one of the requirements for men's hair was that you couldn't shave your head bald, which could be argued affected more black men than white men.  The reason was to minimize the differences between sailors.

    I believe the entire gist of the failure is this:

    At the root of the concern about the Army regulations, many black women said, is a lack of understanding about black hair, coupled with a norm that uses the hair of white women as its baseline.
    The problem, I bet, is that those who wrote the regulations probably have very little interaction with black women.

    "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

    by anonevent on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:55:27 AM PDT

    •  I never saw any reason why absolute (12+ / 0-)

      uniformity of appearance was so necessary. Some men are bald by nature. They can't force them to grow hair. What's is the difference if those who can decide to shave their heads?

      •  I think there are far more issues impacting (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        walkshills, lgmcp, marina, chimene

        the daily lives of military personnel than hair, believe me. If you are expecting the military (any military) to be some democratic institution who gives a damn about what the civilian world thinks of their draconian standards (or for that matter what their own enlisted personnel think), then you are living in a dreamworld. First rule of the military, do not believe one word out of the mouth of a military recruiter, second rule, there are more rules and regulations in the military that make no sense than the number of stars in the galaxy.

        Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others....Groucho Marx

        by tazz on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:28:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I an certainly not expecting the military (6+ / 0-)

          to be a rational and humane organization. However, just because it is not, that does not justify blatant racism and sexism. The military is ultimately accountable to the control of a civilian government. Giving it a pass just because it has always been prejudiced doesn't cut it.

          •  When I was in the military, which granted (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chimene, cville townie

            was a long time ago, the problem wasn't so much they were racists (which some people were). The problem was that the military has too many traditionalists who have nothing better to do with their time than think of more asinine rules and regs to justify their existence. Hell, I almost spent time in the brig after day 1 in bootcamp for saying excuse me to the guy in front of me marching when I stepped on his heel. I think I was called every name in the book by the drill instructor, who incidentally became almost a father figure to me later. I feel for anyone who has to adjust to life in the military, especially African American women, but not because of some hair regulation, but more because they have to put up with a lot more stupid BS period.

            Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others....Groucho Marx

            by tazz on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:58:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Someone posted a comment (0+ / 0-)

            in reply to this saying a bunch of dickish crap and then

            It is about being able to actually wear their headgear, whether it is the beret, their brain bucket or their protective mask.

            The last item is why men can't have beards in the military.

            For the public record since that comment is now hidden, I'm linking two very intelligent replies:

            http://www.dailykos.com/...
            http://www.dailykos.com/...

      •  Because the point of the military (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ord avg guy, ssgbryan

        was to defend the country, and the ultimate traits necessary for that are discipline and uniformity of purpose.  

        What's the difference between a shaved head and a mohawk?  You don't really want interactions between superiors and subordinates to be about hair styles and length.  Uniform inspections were annoying enough as it was and I didn't have them very often.

        "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

        by anonevent on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:48:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Military prefers people to be as cog-like and (0+ / 0-)

        interchangeable as possible, they see it as promoting efficiency. How much of that is true and how much just their perception, who knows, but that's their rationale.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
        ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

        by FarWestGirl on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:34:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So What?? (0+ / 0-)

    How is this going to be enforced?  Looks like it has always been, more or less self policing.  

    •  They can be discharged for (8+ / 0-)

      failure to abide by the regulations. That is no self policing.

    •  It's easy - I'll would tell them to fix it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jasan

      If they don't, the first time, they will be spending quality time on extra duty.  If that doesn't work, I'd make their paycheck lighter.

      •  I think you're missing the point a bit.... (5+ / 0-)

        Black women are upset precisely because it can and will be enforced.

        When I first heard about this story a few weeks ago, I read through the actual regulation because I truly did not understand how they made distinctions between yeah or nay. Even after reading, I still don't understand. They allow wigs fergodssake so what's the issue with some of the other styles. The most asinine one I thought was that (some) braids were allowed but not two-stranded twists.

        They claim that Black women were consulted but I really find that hard to believe.

        "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

        by CaliSista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 11:14:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I'm not missing a thing - we go through (0+ / 0-)

          this about every 5 years or so.

          It is about being able to put on headgear.  Headgear can't hover 1 to 3 inches above the head.  (Yes, I have seen that.)

          More importantly, it is about being able to put on a protective mask.  The hairstyles that are being talked about interfere with being able to seal a protective mask.

          The black women they consulted were probably Senior Non-commissioned Officers.  They have been to the gas chamber and have first hand results of what happens when your hairstyle prevents you from sealing your protective mask.  It isn't pleasant.

           

          •  I have provided (0+ / 0-)

            this link for you because you obviously haven't seen it. This document is primarily concerned with GROOMING standards and presenting a neat and uniform appearance.

            I'm sorry but repeating over and over (and over and over......) in this thread that these restrictions are due to head gear and possibly ill fitting gas masks does not make it any more true. If so, then what is the reason men cannot have long hair? Why can't women be bald? What does the style of umbrella have to do with gas masks?

            The entire document is about conformity. Although some of the things I read seem quite ridiculous, that's the nature of the military that these people voluntarily joined. Where I do have a problem is with arbitrarily outlawing certain hairstyles worn by Black women because the people in charge are ignorant of anything other than the White experience.

            "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

            by CaliSista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:54:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Seen it? Hell, I've taught it (0+ / 0-)

              This is an annual requirement.

              If I was willing to take the time, I could pull out earlier versions of this briefing out of a box in my other bedroom. There isn't much new in it.

              The only thing "new" i.e. added in the last 10 years is standardizing the tattoo policies.  These new policies are based on the fact that we have way too many gang-bangers and rw militia wannabes joining the military for the sole purpose of gaining combat training that they can take back to their buddies.

              You keep saying that what I am telling you (and everyone else) on this thread that what I am saying isn't true.  Just what do you base that on?  These standards didn't come out of a vacuum.

              My conclusions are based on a quarter century in the military with special emphasis from when I was a unit NBC NCO.  That is the practical end of it.

              The military ain't Burger King - you don't get it your way.  How a soldier wears their hair off-duty is their business - on duty, you will do it just like we tell you.  

              •  We base it on the obvious fact that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CaliSista

                some of the prohibited styles do not interfere with headgear or protective masks.

              •  Ahhhh......so it's NOT just the head gear (0+ / 0-)
                These new policies are based on the fact that we have way too many gang-bangers and rw militia wannabes joining the military for the sole purpose of gaining combat training that they can take back to their buddies.

                "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

                by CaliSista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:49:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  The culture of obedience is inherently coercive. (12+ / 0-)

    Consequently, because obedience (a variant of imitation) is a natural virtue, for it to be coerced, the demands for compliance have to be irrational.

    It's sort of like power, to be felt, having to hurt.

    Since our military services are now all voluntary, for authoritarians to demonstrate their powers, they have to impose irrational constraints. Which, if we understand that, actually provides a handy signal that the organization is fixated on power, rather than their supposed objective, being prepared for national defense. If commanders are inspecting their troops' hair, then they're not engaged in familiarizing themselves with potentially dangerous foreign cultures, languages, ideologies and aggressive tendencies.

    http://hannah.smith-family.com

    by hannah on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:58:48 AM PDT

  •  Just the tip of the iceberg. (0+ / 0-)

    In loyalty to their kind, they cannot tolerate our minds. In loyalty to our kind, We cannot tolerate their obstruction.

    by mojave mike on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:04:13 AM PDT

  •  I understand 'no dreadlocks' (10+ / 0-)

    but no cornrows or twists? I find it hard to believe that a black woman was the key decision maker on this as the Army claims.

    “African-American female soldiers were involved in the process of developing the new female hair standards,” said Lt. Col. Alayne P. Conway, an Army spokeswoman. “Not only were nearly 200 senior female leaders and soldiers, which included a representative sample of the Army’s populations, part of the decision-making process on the female hair standards, but the group was also led by an African-American female.”

    The Army declined to give the names of the black women involved in the decision, or make them available for comment.

    Tell Warner Brothers Pictures that Rooney Mara is #NotYourTigerLily.

    by ExpatGirl on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:08:25 AM PDT

    •  What's wrong with dreadlocks? n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills, FindingMyVoice
      •  Easy to grab on to and cut your throat. (6+ / 0-)

        Probably easier long greasy Caucasian hair, which is also banned.

        No idea why cornrows are banned...if they fit under the helmet, then they should be OK.

        While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

        by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:24:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I personally think dreads can be stunning (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dvalkure

        but I understand why the Army might not. They take a LOT of work and time before they start looking good and they are very difficult to keep clean.

        I remember when one of my boys decided he wanted to get some going. The twisting, twisting, twisting, day after day. He finally gave up and went for braids.

        Tell Warner Brothers Pictures that Rooney Mara is #NotYourTigerLily.

        by ExpatGirl on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:28:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am certain that the army's (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LuvSet, walkshills

          first concern is the personal convenience of its female troops.  

          •  Dreads are far from convenient (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Norm in Chicago, ssgbryan, sviscusi

            But I suspect the real issue is that they can become a weakness during combat situations. They are substantial to grab. They require a high degree of maintenance. And there are field hygiene considerations.

            If having dreads is the most important thing to you, best not sign up for the armed services.

            Tell Warner Brothers Pictures that Rooney Mara is #NotYourTigerLily.

            by ExpatGirl on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:43:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Trying to find a practical justification (0+ / 0-)

              for this stupidity amounts to baying at the moon.

              •  And not seeing that on that one front there might (5+ / 0-)

                actually be real justification is silly. Even the South African Navy doesn't accept dreads as an appropriate hairstyle.

                And unless you are a Rastafarian, there is NO reason to be indignant over one hairstyle.

                As I said before, however, I completely do not understand the problem with large cornrows.

                Tell Warner Brothers Pictures that Rooney Mara is #NotYourTigerLily.

                by ExpatGirl on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:58:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Those of us who have been in understand why (0+ / 0-)

                civilians don't.

                •  And those of us who are Black women (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Richard Lyon

                  understand that the decision to ban some hairstyles (when compared to what is allowed) appears arbitrary and ignorant of Black hair.

                  "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

                  by CaliSista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 11:40:40 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Can you give some examples? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    CaliSista

                    Tell Warner Brothers Pictures that Rooney Mara is #NotYourTigerLily.

                    by ExpatGirl on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:27:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Okay..... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ExpatGirl

                      Taken from this document, one of the requirements under short, medium, or long hair is that

                      Bulk of hair (measured from the scalp) will not exceed 2”
                      If they left it at that, I would be fine with it but they go on to allow rolled hair and braids but not two-stranded twists
                      Defined as hair rolled (not twisted using two strands) or braided closely to the scalp producing a continuous, raised row of hair
                      The type of style described here
                      Cornrows must be of uniform dimension, small in diameter (approximately 1/4 inch), show no more than 1/8 inch of scalp between the cornrows
                      are IMO more difficult and expensive to obtain and maintain neatly than other styles. Depending on just how small and tight to the scalp they are, it can damage the hair. They allow hair extensions and WIGS, and of course chemically straightened hair which together with their restrictions all seem to lean towards a non kinky haired "normal" standard that is anything but normal for most Black women.

                      "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

                      by CaliSista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:23:19 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  It isn't arbitrary (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ExpatGirl

                    It is all about being able to put on your headgear.  Your beret or garrison cap can not hover over your head.  It must be on your head.

                    You also need to be able to don & seal your protective mask.  That is what drives what hair styles are a go.

                    Trust me, the last thing any soldier wants is to be unable to seal their mask during a chemical attack (or annual training at the gas chamber).

                    Been there, done that.

          •  Actually, that's the crux of the argument (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CaliSista, TrueBlueMajority, chimene

            Cornrows are actually considered acceptable, but only in a "tight, neat even row less than 1/4 inch wide and with no more than  1/8th of an inch of skin showing."

            That standard means:
            - Someone else has to do your hair, which is time consuming and expensive
            - You'll probably need to add extensions in for bulk if your hair is naturally thin, in order to keep too much skin from showing
            - You have to get your hair done in this expensive and time consuming manner on a pretty regular basis.

            Whereas larger corn rows or twists can by done by someone much more quickly.  Or by the solider herself in a pinch, on the field.

            Small corn rows are also incredibly damaging to hair.  I've had them put in twice (they are nice on vacation) and the damage to my hair both times was enough to make me regret it.  

            The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

            by catwho on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:46:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  makes me wonder about the demographics of the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CaliSista

      "consultant" group... all older women, thoroughly brainwashed into a decades-old standard of what makes "good" hair????

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:10:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  White-Sizing, Running Government More Like Biz. (5+ / 0-)

    The private sector doesn't like hiring Blacks, that's why government has been the #1 and 2 employer of Black men and women, respectively.

    As part of the effort to run government like a proper business, it's necessary to cut down on the number of Blacks in the ranks. The nationwide downsizing of government employment, the attacks on government teachers, the postal service, government prisons and their staffs etc. are all part of both privatization and white-sizing.

    Of course the troops need to be white-sized as well. Hair is a perfect tool for that.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:25:36 AM PDT

  •  SOLUTION: Everyone shaves their heads. (3+ / 0-)

    Men, Women, white, black, whatever.

    Who wants to deal with hair on the battlefield anyway, aren't you too busy dodging bullets to fuss over your bangs? (pun score 9.9)

    Seriously, I thought uniformity and conformity were core elements of discipline, and "everyone gets a butch" was not even up for a vote.

    •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Jester

      http://jasonluthor.jelabeaux.com/

      by DAISHI on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:53:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This was more or less a requirement in WWI (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Jester

      The trenches in WWI were breeding grounds for all sorts of nasties including such things as head lice. For that reason the British Army required very short hair - apart from those with religious requirements like Sikhs and Muslims of who there were large numbers from India.

      Actually Sikhs are the only ones who today can not be prosecuted for not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle in the UK, so long as they wear a turban or Dastar. Despite this there are a few Sikh bikers who have adopted an outer helmet for extra protection at high speed. Virtually all UK uniform designs allow for a turban to be worn if needed for religious reasons. The only example of this not being the case I am aware of are for police wanting to join armed units. The Association of Chief Police Officers  (ACPO) issued guidelines suggesting an alternative head covering which is part of the religion be used under protective headgear. That still precludes many religious Sikhs partly because it would likely mean removing the turban in public. At the time, 2010, they rejected the idea of reinforced turbans but were open to future development of them.

      As a matter of interest, what is the US Army position on them and the long hair and beard which are not cut short again for religious reasons?

      "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:01:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  in order to make troops more uniform (6+ / 0-)

    tall men will be shortened, pale skin will be darkened - and dark skin lightened, skinny legs will be wrapped, everybody will have to wear glasses with thick black frames - even those who don't need corrective lenses -

    thank God they're working on the important stuff.

  •  NOT to defend anything here, (7+ / 0-)

    but they are forcing a lot of people out.  My nephew, a white 20+ year major, is going before the board in a couple of weeks to determine whether he's to be forced to retire.  Just yesterday he was telling me that they're forcing a lot of junior officers out on the barest of pretexts.  One infraction on their service record and they basically get a pink slip. I think that something like this fits in perfectly with the idea that people are being weeded out.

    Again, I'm not defending anything.  Using hair as an excuse to get rid of people is definitely racist and I'm glad the CBC is raising holy hell about it.

    A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

    by dougymi on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:44:17 AM PDT

    •  That does appear to be the case. (5+ / 0-)

      However, rather than base a downsizing on something like performance evaluations they seem to be resorting to inflicting the personal prejudices of the people in charge on those with no power.

    •  Allow me to explain for you (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dougymi, chimene, sviscusi, Tony Situ

      Once you reach 20 and are eligible for retirement - everyone goes before a retention board - this is nothing new.  The major should be thankful that he was notified about it.  The first time I knew my records went before the retention board, was when I got my letter telling me I was being retained.

      Congress sets the number of how many people can be in the military - not the DOD.  We always do RIFs (Reduction In Force) after drawing down from a war.  You are probably not aware of the fact that at the end of the 1st Gulf war, we RIFed the entire 7th Corp.

      Congress has made the decision to cut a 100,000 positions - this is not unreasonable for the following reasons:

      We can only man 44 combat brigades - problem is we have a force structure of 48 combat brigades - no point in keeping all of the chiefs if we don't have the Indians.

      1 strike & you're out isn't anything new - it's been around since the early 90's.  We have a lot of folks in the Army that only got in because we lowered our standards.

      •  thanks. Clarifies a lot. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene

        A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

        by dougymi on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 11:33:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It should have been explained to him. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dougymi, chimene

          We aren't as good about that as we should be.

          You have to explain it to the American Soldier.  It isn't new - Leaders had to explain WHY to the American Solider at Lexington & Concord.

          The Army preaches "2 up, 1 down" for a reason.  If, as a squad leader, you understand the Battalion's mission, you are more effective on the battlefield.  The Chaos of war will work for you, not against you.

          •  I'm sure it was. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chimene

            He probably didn't explain it well to me. No surprise there. It was a fairly casual conversation at Easter dinner.

            A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

            by dougymi on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 12:02:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  For the record - stupid is as stupid does (16+ / 0-)

    ARMY_BLACK_HAIR_36930557

    That's the way African girls have done their hair-do for ever. Most practical, hard to braid yourself. So I guess the problem the military has is to not understand that for "reasonable and acceptable" hair braidery you need two women tending each other needs. Otherwise, braided black hair is the most practical I can think of for "military service conditions". Just saying my two cents, your hair-do mileage may vary.

    3455-332x400-aakid9

    •  this pretty much proves their point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ssgbryan, chimene
      hard to braid yourself. So I guess the problem the military has is to not understand that for "reasonable and acceptable" hair braidery you need two women tending each other needs.
      That's exactly why the Army is banning these complex black hairstyles.  The Army wants black female soldiers cleaning their weapons on their downtime, not doing each other's hair, regardless of how "practical" the end result is.  While I have no doubt there's racism and misogyny percolating in the backs of senior officers' minds, I think it boils down to the idea that impromptu "field salons" are not the best use of female soldiers' time and attention.

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:46:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh well, what else is new ... awful (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chimene

        these are not complex hair styles. Braiding the hair makes hygiene of your hair and scalp much easier.

        My niece (african) learned to do her own hair braiding in days, because nobody was there to do it for her in our household.

        It is hard to do, because it is exhausting on your arms, but it is very well doable.

        What kind of hair-style does the military want? Shaviing the hair down every week or so?

        Why don't they take care of "tribal, profiling tatoos" first?
        Ah, those they can't get rid off so easily, heh?

      •  Takes longer, but probably done a lot less often (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi, catwho, chimene

        so in terms of soldier productivity, I think they'd come out ahead in the long run.  I wash and condition my limp white-girl hair EVERY day and comb it a dozen times.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:10:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i think you have it backward (6+ / 0-)

        i can braid/cornrow my own hair easily and quickly

        but in order to make sure the braids are no wider than 1/4 inch (really small) with no more than 1/8 inch of skin showing, I would need help

        it is the latter, the army-regulation version, that is more complex and time consuming

        allowing simple braids as are shown in mimi's post would be something a soldier could do on her own in a very short amount of time

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 12:10:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can you do it inside of 9 seconds? (0+ / 0-)

          The key is - these hair styles will get soldiers killed in a nerve agent attack, because they won't be able to put on and seal their masks before a nerve agent kicks in.

          You don't get advanced notice of a nerve agent attack - that is why we call them the enemy.

          •  ? ? ? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CaliSista, Sharon Wraight

            if your hair is already braided, you don't have to do anything when the attack comes except put your helmet on

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:02:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Have you ever put a protective mask on? (0+ / 0-)

              It's simple, but there are a bunch of moving parts to it - 6 of which can be caught up in hair.  The mask has 6 straps - any of those large braids can prevent you from adjusting the mask for a seal.  All of that hair piled up in the back or sides, or front will prevent you from seating the mask properly.

              In the Army, you do this enough to where is is pure muscle memory - I promise you right now, if I handed Kos a mask, he could still don it & seal it in 9 seconds.

              Nerve agent is no joke.

              BTW, you don't put your helmet on until AFTER you put on your mask.

    •  It's about headgear (0+ / 0-)

      It's nothing new.

  •  While I like the idea of an (0+ / 0-)

    "effective frightening force", I think you might want to edit your second last paragraph. Otherwise, interesting diary.

    -8.38, -7.74 My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton

    by Wreck Smurfy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:55:23 AM PDT

  •  If they want to improve professionalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene

    and reduce troop sizes, how about stricter recruiting standards, law enforcement prosecution for assault and sexual assault, and consistent respect for ANY reasonably groomed personal appearance of personnel?

    It's not like cornrows aren't neat and tidy, fer crying out loud.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:04:44 AM PDT

  •  Got the solution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catwho, chimene

    I found the answer to my own question above. Sikh men in the US Army are allowed to not cut their hair or shave:

    The U.S Army has granted a member of a religious minority permission to keep his turban, beard and uncut hair while he serves in the military, the Pentagon and a group representing him said.
    How about a simple extension whereby soldiers are required to either wear approved hairstyles or wear a uniform turban? That would deal with the problem of keeping the hair clean. No doubt oversized helmets could be provided for combat.

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 10:09:56 AM PDT

  •  You see this all the time: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, CaliSista, wu ming, chimene

    If you don't have women or black people in the conversation, you're not going to have a good result.

    A collection of white males who've spent the last 30 years with shaved heads can't be expected to know this stuff about black women's hair; that's why you can't only have a collection of white men making the rules.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 11:07:52 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps a reasonable compromise (0+ / 0-)

    Would be to establish a single style of twists, cornrows, and select other hairstyles, or a limited number of versions, with an emphasis on practicality.

    Can people accept a policy that is somewhere in-between no twists are allowed and all twists are allowed?

  •  I get dreads (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CaliSista, ExpatGirl

    As a rasta, who's fellows mostly have dreadlocks - I get the ban on that for military folks. It's a tangle mess.

    But cornrows are actually ideal - they ought to require those for the white folks too. cornrows are a perfect way to keep the hair down and closely cropped inside a helmet.

    I suggest mandatory cornrows for all military personal, male and female, black, white, red, yellow, brown, or whatever other shade someone might turn up with.

    :p

    OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

    by Jyotai on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 12:56:40 PM PDT

  •  how about this rule? (0+ / 0-)

    If it's hidden by a regulation helmet, it's OK. Just forget about it.

    The purpose of the Army is defense, right?

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:13:43 PM PDT

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