EL PASO, Texas - The AR 670-1 is the Army's uniform and grooming rulebook. It got an update April 1. New definitions, new standards and some hairstyles banned outright.
Some soldiers are having to change their hairdos and they're not happy about it. The female members of the Congressional Black Caucus say new standards are biased against African-American women.
Everything from braids to cornrows, and tiebacks have new standards. Some popular hairstyles like dreadlocks and twists are prohibited, and now Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is getting an earful about it.
"I think it's a good regulation ... it's something that we need to be following. We conform to the Army. The Army does not conform to us," U.S. Army soldier Cecelia Wilkinson said Monday afternoon at Fort Bliss.
Some soldiers have expressed frustrations to their hair stylists.
"Especially the African-American girls because it's low maintenance for them to keep it braided so they think it could be a little racist towards them," hairstylist Cosdeonna Crouse said.
The Army's website shows photographs of unauthorized hair styles.
"Things got laxed through the combat mission and everything. Now we're trying to get back to our core set standards, so just follow directions and do what you're told," First Sgt. Eric Figueroa said.
Lieutenant Colonel Lee Peters agrees, but says the new standards are fair to all.
"It's about enforcing a uniform standard across all soldiers regardless of race, religion, gender," LTC Peters said over the phone.
Hairdos like cornrows and braids are popular with a lot of people.
"Twists, especially, that could be ... any race can go on and do that," soldier Wilkinson said.
Keep in mind, the Army's regulations for both men's and women's hairstyles are very detailed. Other women's rules involve length differences from front to back, bangs that can't be past a soldier's eyebrows and hair ties must be similar to hair color.