Recently, the Canadian military officially okayed beards, ruling that their troops are now allowed to grow facial hair. This comes with a caveat, however. The beard length must be no longer than two centimeters, must not reach the neck and cheekbones. The beard must also be kept in a traditional style. Even with these limits in place, it is definitely a huge leap for beard culture.
Canada joins the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, and many of our other NATO allies in officially allowing their troops to grow facial hair. The last countries standing with a no facial hair requirement are Turkey and the United States. Turkey hasn’t officially denied the idea, which makes it a possibility in the future. Unfortunately, the United States has completely wiped off the debate from their agenda.
It’s about time the Pentagon at least considers the possibility of allowing its troops to grow a well-maintained beard. At the very least, they could provide some leeway. The policy today enforces that all its troops be clean shaven so that gas masks can be properly fitted. The policy was created during World War II when chemical weapons were used against Allied troops. Military men were required to carry their gas masks with them at all times. Today, not so much.
Why The Bans & Limit on Beard Length?
Currently, military officers aren’t even carrying a gas mask while on patrol. Though a chemical attack can happen today, it doesn’t seem as practical. Soldiers refuse to carry their mask because it isn’t necessary anymore. It’s not as likely that a chemical attack will take place today, so they leave their masks to remove additional weight.
Gas masks are not as constricted to the face as they were before. Canada has created a mask that now covers the entire face and chin, preventing the allowed beard length from complicating it’s fit. Even if the beard does prevent the mask from fitting, one can always put Vaseline or petroleum jelly on their beard to diminish its volume.
Another reason beards have been banned is due to their “lack of professionalism”. Truthfully, in today’s society, it is just the opposite. Many of the worlds top professionals have a beard. Keeping your beard maintained can make you look just as professional as being clean-shaven.
Many commanders in the military have looked past the idea of facial hair. They have chosen to let some of their troops get away with growing facial hair as long as it is strictly maintained and kept to the requisite beard length. Some believe that the policy should just imply to places that are more susceptible to chemical attacks.
Although it seemed reasonable to forbid them in the past, there isn’t much logic behind continuing a beard ban. According to the Military Times, many soldiers actually believe that the policy should be altered, allowing beards to be grown under certain terms. Only time can tell.