On Mar. 2, when the Army’s top enlisted soldier, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey, asked a room full of soldiers at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington to raise their hands if they felt the Army’s tattoo policy was too restrictive, to Dailey’s surprise, almost everyone did. The branch’s current tattoo policy is the creation of Dailey’s predecessor, Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler, who took a hard stance on tattoos that made him very unpopular with the enlisted majority. Soldiers with calf or sleeve tattoos were barred from receiving a commission, for life, and could be dishonorably discharged for any new tattoos, reports the military blog, War Is Boring.
The anger some troops feel toward Army leadership may be over its tattoo policy, but it points to a larger problem — a disconnect between the service’s senior enlisted leader and his charges, the rank-and-file enlisted soldier. If Dailey was surprised that soldiers are still upset over the tattoo policy, what else doesn’t he know about his troops?