The New York Daily News is reporting that the special ops command brass over in Afghanistan are — once again — ordering their snake eaters to ditch the whiskers.

Long beards, khaki ball caps and Oakley wraparound sunglasses have long been the iconic image of U.S. secret warriors here.

But commanders now want “professional-looking” soldiers in the field – at least those who deal mostly with Afghan troops, not civilians. They note that the ball caps are often adorned with macabre skulls, sending the wrong message to a populace weary of war and death.

As many Kit Up! readers will remember, this is a seemingly perennial problem in the rugged battleground that attracts a similarly rugged persona. The bearded bubbas were rolling through the hills back in ’09-’10 sporting ZZ Top-like shags and biker bar caps with aplomb. Then the regular Army and Air Force moved in and Bagram became a salute base the the beards were banned.

Then the optics shifted to Iraq and the commandos went back to their off-the-grid ways.

But now with all the world watching The ‘Stan again, the brass are back at their game, blousing, shaving, tabbing and capping in full military regulation.

In Afghanistan’s rural areas were connecting with the population is so important, beards are essential for those troops who’s mission it is to live off the land and survive through repoire rapport. I can see how some in the rear are feeling the sting from operators who take the look at little too far, but at the end of the day, it’s about trust and mission success, right?

{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

Uncle Willie August 17, 2010 at 6:23 am

This stuff KILLS me. I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

The SpecOps community is composed of highly motivated, professional soldiers. If they think they need beards and baseball caps with skulls on them, then let them have them. I understand the importance of uniformity and military bearing in conventional warfare, but that is not what these guys do.

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BlackBeard February 26, 2014 at 9:00 am

You are absalutley right. I can assure you that for the Spec Ops working over in a nation of mulsims, are likely to have more respect by having beards. This decision has nothing to do with looking professional to the afgans. It is to please the bean counting brass of the non spec ops US Military leaders..

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Hammer August 17, 2010 at 6:53 am

Absolutely ridiculous. The beard is not only necessary for cultural but also camoflage reasons; its pretty easy to tell who the American is when all but two guys have beards. No skulls? This is the military, go find your balls guys. And ask the Iraqui troops how offensive the skulls are. I've seen Punisher skulls on everything from helmets to humvees over there, they love that stuff. Stop micromanaging and let them win.

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Donny August 17, 2010 at 8:17 am

I think you may mean "rapport" instead of "repoire".

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Bad Karma August 17, 2010 at 10:40 am

SOF have many different roles. If you're SF and you're tasked with training and organizing the Afghan troops in both operations and decorum, you need to look like a professional soldier. Within regs and straight up and down business. That means no beards, no Pirate Flags, no Infidel tabs. If you are operating as a clandestine unit the beards, dismaals, caps, pakols, patus, et cetera are A-OK. Morale tabs, flags, and all of that "kill jock" business has no place on a uniform or on your kit, in my opinion. That is for the kids and SAD, to make them feel like they are special.

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OIF3 Vet August 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

Again decisions made by politically correct dumbass officers that need to remove their heads from up Obama's ASS.

They are Spec Ops, if they want pink humvees and have guns that shoot flowers becuz they think that will get the mission done or make it easier (not saying they want the above) then let them. People that are their performing the missions need to decide what is write not some general half a world away or even one that is sitting down in Centcom headquarters.

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Bravo October 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm

British SAS used pink Land Rovers once, in WW II, it was a good camouflage at desert in night apparently.

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SPC_squivs August 17, 2010 at 11:19 am

We are one of the last of the professional militaries who retain such restrictive grooming regulations. Is there any need for regular grunts to be clean-shaven every day? Absolutely not, outside of Korea at least (that being our last zone where biological warfare is possible). This is just another classic example of some career higher ranks wanting to feel in charge again. Useless power trip from people who don't understand the culture of the area they (we) operate in. While Afghan village elders are getting used to the fact that our commanders have boys faces, it Always helps just that little bit more when we show up to town meetings looking like men who know what they are doing rather than fresh faced boys. Culture man, some people just don't get it…

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Bob August 17, 2010 at 11:40 am

Are they in the military or not? If so, they need to look professional, and in the American miliatary that means clean shaven. Beards, in our military, went out with the Civil War. If a bunch of barbaric 5th century Afgan hillbillies think beards are a sign of manhood, show them, by example, how wrong they are. Afgans, stone women, deny them an education and think dogs are unclean. Is that any reason we should do the same. American military should act and look like professionals, not like outlaw bikers.

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Wombat August 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Bob, pardon me, but you are very foolish. The beards can come off after they have won the confidence of the locals. When I was Sf, back in the early 60's, I was told that I needed knee pads if I were going to 'nam (I'm 6'4") and the VC would spot me in a second. For security alone, you have to blend in.

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Jeannette Dudley Rob August 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Yay Bob! Our Special Forces guys will fit right in over there with clean shaven faces. NOT!

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M.G.Halvorsen August 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Bob, you kind of thinking is why we have Special Ops forces. See, they understand that the people we interact with have this thing called "customs"…among them is a belief that only boys and girlie-men go without beards. Your predjudices are typical of those who don't have a clue what a Professional Soldier already knows: You DO NOT alienate those people you are trying to win over. A TRUE professional Soldier knows it isn't how one looks; it's how he performs. That's the thing that keeps him and his teammates alive and makes the other side very dead…not how his hair is cut, how shiny his boots are shined (Oh, yeah, you don't have to worry about that anymore), or whether he shaved in the last 24 hours. I've seen many "Soldiers" that looked like a recruiting poster, and couldn't figh5t their way out of a P***-soaked paper bag…and others that had to be hidden from the IG inspectors that were dynamite in the bush. Go figure.

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Bob-0 August 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Bob and MG both have great points. We should adhere to grooming standards (unless there is a greater need not to). AND It's the commander's responsibility to enforce or waive whatever he has to to accomplish the mission. I can see operators no longer being seen near the brass and the problem being handled by the commander and his NCOs.

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nicademus August 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Regular Soldiers in Garrison…especially in the States should be looking Strac, but Special Ops should have as much leeway as they need/want to perform their missions. Since Middle Eastern folks have beards as the norm…our troops should also have beards to fit in over there. A clean shaven GI with short hair….will stick out like a sore thumb over there. Release the Hounds!!

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samiam August 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm

TROOPS IN GARRISON STILL LOOK LIKE RAG-BAGS.. AND WILL CONTINUE TO UNITLL THE ARMY MAKES A CHANGE IN PLOICY.

ALL TRAVEL SHOULD BE only IN DRESS UNIFORM.

Ban off base wearing of the ACU……….NOW

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Junior August 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I understand what they trying to do its for that area to make the citizens feel at peace when seeing a solider thats professionally looking it make people feel better not scared. he look like he holds a higher stander in being of himself. Psychological. make sence

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DevilPup August 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm

that applies to regulkar troops. SpecOps are their own deal, and it isnt to instill calm and peace. they are trained to kill with their bare hands, and nothing you can do will ever take that away from them.

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samiam August 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Professional looking…………….Humm that depends totally on your what you think that means.. Way to many want an army that just looks good.
There is way to many control freaks doing a no-nothing-job fighting like fashion police and not enough fighting a war
As for me……… I could not care less what they look like …………Just get the job done.

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Greg August 17, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Being clean shaven in Afghanistan means that the locals won't take you seriously. Whoever ordered this new rule is an ignorant buffoon.

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Roger Collins August 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm

REMFs always look pretty, they lead by example. From the rear however. Azzholes!

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Dave August 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm

This one I have to agree with, The back office as you call them azzholes their the ones hideing from assinments to the AOR. And the are the ones who do not like what the Special Operators brings to the Fight.
I tell the Pentagon and the people with starts on their shoulders leave your operators alone. Our you might see another exodus.

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Sgt Mac August 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm

That beard IS part of their necessary uniform. Let the operators do their job. Leave it to the brass to fudge it up.

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Tom August 17, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Too bad Hack (Col David Hackworth) isn't around to take these perfumed princes to task.

The "professional" image is just going to paint a bullseye on the guys and hurt their mission. Those chairborne PowerPoint rangers need to get a clue. Hey, here's an idea, Whoever thought up that policy needs to spend some time with SF in the AOR sporting their professional image. Lets see tuens into a bullet magnet then.

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Clark August 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

As usual the US Army goes to war and a garrison breaks out!

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Dan August 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Honestly theres a lot of good comments here. But my question, is why would a beard be required to complete a mission successfully? I agree, it should not be a priority to make sure a soldier doesn't have a 5 oclock shadow, but where do you draw the line? If a soldier has peach fuzz or a beard like ZZ top, who draws the line? Is a beard going to make someone shoot straighter, jump higher, or run faster? No. Spec Ops are still part of the military and they know that. Not sure if they should feel that they are above reproach.

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Jeannette Dudley Rob August 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Don't you watch Army Wives? <snark> Our troops are over there, risking their lives and we care about facial hair? Cut me a break!

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Texaspup February 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Dan, the idea is to blend in with the native people they are fighting. The Afgans wear beards and longer hair. If you are trying to sneak into the area and not stick out like a pink elephant, you try to "appear" to belong. And if you are spit shined, short haired and no beard, you really stick out. Blending in and NOT being discovered could mean the difference between completing the mission and coming home in a flag draped metal box.

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OIF3 Vet August 17, 2010 at 5:09 pm

@ Dan and Bob. The two of you obviously have never been to either country. When talking to the locals (Arab countries) you need the facial hair, its part of there customs and in their mind defines an elder (some one wise, in charge, not a boy/bitch). I am not saying that regular soldiers should be growing beards. S.O. is a different story though. These guys are out all the time living amongst the locals and they do not wear standard uniforms (notice the mix match in the photo). S.O. talk with the people everyday and need to build the trust with them in order to gain intel to complete the mission.

Yes, S.O. are in the military but there is a reason alot of these guys don't ever wear unit patches or even standard uniforms when in garrison. These guys are the best at the irregular warfare and should have the leeway to do what they want when deployed.

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Hairy Nuts August 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I hope I won't have to shave my pubes too. I did that once in high school, and cut my nuts pretty bad.

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seabeebob August 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Let them have the beards!!!!!!!!!!! Fear the beard!!!!!!

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M.G.Halvorsen August 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm

My point, as I was trying to make it, is, if one is in Special warefare Ops, and one is trying to connect with the local leaders in the village, one must at least look like one is familiar with their social standards and customs. The "professionals" obviously cannot grasp this concept, and are being typically "regulation-happy". This isn't a new phenomenom. It happened in the 'Nam as well, also in Korea…Hell, Bill Mauldin exposed it in Naples during WWII in his Pulitzer-winning book "Up Front"…pissed old Georgie Patton off, too…These REMF's are just the latest in a long line of….And my Chief told me ,"Hal, never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

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Samiam August 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm

So true so sad.. & when I tried to mark the little thumbs up It was blocked WTF

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MacGyver - Sr. August 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I agree with all these good justifications for the beards. Also, it takes precious time to shave everyday – time taken away from the fight. These battle hardened guys are pros, they know what works best.

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SubicSailor August 17, 2010 at 8:36 pm

The bottom line…if it ain't broke, don't fix it!!! If a beard and/or civilian attire "helps" our operators- than just shut up and thank them for what they do!!!

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RLTW August 17, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Beards boost morale.

RLTW.

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@Earlydawn August 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Operators are intelligent and usually reserved guys. I would hope that they're reasonable, too. Ask their leadership if the morale pros outweigh the cons. If so, leave them alone. They are professionals.

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gnysgtsavalas August 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I can recall when serving in the brown water navy that clean shaven high and tight was not the foremost of demands from the brass,while fighting and maintaning equipment was .If it makes for a better fighting force in the specific area of duty.let it be.To coin a phrase from an old movie"…they look very nice …but can they fight?…"

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Edward Yee August 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Another perspective on the beards question, from Foreign Policy:
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/03/

"In Kandahar province's Zhari district, elders refer to the "bearded Americans," who they say behave very badly, and the "shaven Americans," who aren't so bad. Likewise, in Uruzgan province, locals have complained about "bearded Americans" using foul language and manhandling respected community elders and government officials."

The comments are interesting in discussing unconventional warfare versus direct action as a possibly underlying issue.

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Stefan S. August 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm

This is just BIG Army trying to reign in Spec Ops. Plain and simple. Big Army had issues with our unbloused boots, ballcaps and beards. That's why we had "get out of jail free" cards to show the PC tightasses that we weren't regular joes and to go about their business.

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Bearded Clam August 17, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Not only should they be allowed to keep their beards, they should be allowed to dye it with henna to fully mix with the local population, so when they complain about getting man handled or killed by SOF, they can say, "those bad orange bearded Americans".

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Bien Hoa Ranger August 17, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I hope you operated better than you spell. You're( not your) right, but grammer and spelling kill your( not you're) credibility
"People that are their (THERE) performing the missions need to decide what is write(RIGHT)"
Bien Hoa Ranger

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SFStew August 17, 2010 at 11:17 pm

BH Ranger-

If you're going to be a D-Bag and correct spelling on a comment screen, you might want to spell "grammer" correctly (grammar).

Just saying…

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Subic Bob 2 August 17, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Subic Bob 2;
The reason we continue to have problems like these are people having nothing to do, so lets make changes.
History is covered with bloody lessons and no one remembers them, so every 5-10yrs new leaders, or civilian pressures dictate we re-invent the wheel. We never understand the culture of the people we fight against, do not asimilate and adapt…certainly the ones making changes are not in touch with the guys like the spec ops folks deep in indian country. If there is one thing most enemies of the U.S. understand is fear and respect for their opponents, this is so repetative, time consuming and distractive from accomplishing a winning mission.

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Shardik August 18, 2010 at 2:01 am

"Bagram became a salute base." Wasn't last time I checked (this morning).

FWIW, the arguement for beards and non-uniform uniforms is circular. "They need to wear beards to blend," "They need to wear civilian ball caps to be different." If you read up on it, you'll find the Afghans know the difference between the clean shaven and the "special" bearded troops. They also know who treats them honorably with respect and who doesn't. So much for trying to "blend."

Finally, for those who rant about PC correctness, please try and remember in previous conflicts the USMC and Ranger Battalions were so famous for their "high and tight" clean shaven haircuts, other units sought to emulate them. Everyone wants to be "different."

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Sarge August 18, 2010 at 3:14 am

Once again, the brass wants to make every soldier a "garret trooper". Seems like most of us from the Viet Nam era remember that song well. What's next – brasso'ed ammunition? Will they never learn?

Ex SF – RVN 66-67

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canttell August 18, 2010 at 3:31 am

garbage… cry more high command.. cry more.

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Paul Crossgrove August 18, 2010 at 4:09 am

OIF3 Vet August 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm proudly says:

Again decisions made by politically correct dumb*** officers that need to remove their heads from up Obama's ***. The discussion is about beards, ***hole.

Keep your god damn political view to yourself. Whose heads are 'up Obama's ***??

Get your 'warrior' head out of your own *** and find a President you can either respect or reenlist.

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rvnfo August 18, 2010 at 4:46 am

I remember coming back from a long patrol in RVN and having to take the water that we had risked our lives to get for the purpose of shaving and cleaning up before we were allowed into Garrison to sleep refuel and go back out. It made me angry ten and it makes me angry now…

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ironbutt August 18, 2010 at 4:58 am

To the Taliban, nothing makes an easier target than a smartly bloused uniform and a clean shave. Do us all a favor, and send the ******** that order this crap to the front lines to draw the fire away from the studs who do the work. "Hooahh"

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SFSNIPE August 18, 2010 at 5:13 am

Dan, It's a matter of "fitting in" with the people you are working with in THEIR culture. Spec Ops work DIRECTLY with indigenous personnel and that is their main focus. The teams have indigenous personnel on their teams as "team members" just about at all times. In order to build their trust and comfort level with the team, the team does whatever is necessary, including growing beards, etc… This has been the way Spec Ops has worked ever since it's start. People need to realize that they are in a war, every day…fighting people with a very strict culture and using people from that same culture to help us fight them. We're in their land fighting along side them….When in Rome (or Afg./Iraq)??? Another thing, when in garrison, for the most part, you won't see Spec Ops walking around the same way they fight….these are some of the most professional, highly trained people in the world. NO ONE outside of that community has any right or place to complain or describe them differently. 99% of the worlds population couldn't and/or wouldn't do what they do and are doing….period.

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Ruanne August 18, 2010 at 5:31 am

Like many articles that make it to military.com, this is really not news. Certain Special Ops commands in Afghanistan and Iraq had already banned beards. Our friendly neighboring "lumberjacks" turned up clean shaven about halfway through my second deployment. You can argue all you want weather 'tis better to have a beard or not (a red-headed guy with a bushy beard really does NOT look like a very convincing local.) But it's really a small issue tactically. People who are really good at it, like the guys in question, can fight with or without a beard. But cultural concerns, in the case of Special Forces, must be taken into consideration. That's their job, working with the local culture, against other aspects of the local culture (namely, the Taliban.)

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Jumpand Hump August 18, 2010 at 5:32 am

Keep the Beards

RLTW again

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Jump and Hump August 18, 2010 at 5:34 am

Keep the Beards!

RLTW Again…

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jUNIOR August 18, 2010 at 5:50 am

Spec Ops are trained to kill but what you may forget is that they are some of the most intelligent people in the military. Yes they are clam minded killers. but they no how to turn it on and off in a split second. also spec opts yes there in there own realm but time and place dictates what goes on . and obviously the people who made them who they are before they were who they are must have some brains cause if it can from there operations command who really answers to themselves when doing the job there a reason. This is Chess not Checkers.

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TIGERONE August 18, 2010 at 6:29 am

Ok now, lets see, I've been out in the outback, have a meeting for 30 minutes, at the Gen,'s, or Col.'s Office – have to shave my beard off, take a shower, get all smelling good, change my diet, to attend my 30 minute meeting – then have to return to the outback, and continue living off the land, blend in with my environment, and survive?I'd tell these morans that my very survival depends upon my poor appearance, offer my apoligies, and get on with the meeting! If they didn't like it they have the option to have me clean up for their 30 minite meeting, and send someone else in to do my job! I'd be really tempted to smack the **** out of one of these idiots – in order to preserve my precious little life – and take my chances in a courts martial – may not win – But, I'd still be alive!

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RVN11B August 18, 2010 at 6:44 am

Just remember, this stupidity by the REMFS will continue as long as there is a US Army. Hell just go back and read about the BS the Special Forces had to endure at it's inception from the conventional commanders.

Totally disgusting.

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Ed Marek August 18, 2010 at 6:44 am

I recall from my days at NKP Thailand, going to a mission brief for a mission over Laos. The wing commander came in, and chewed me out because my guys had not shaven that morning or taken a bath-shower. I was only a captain at the time, but put my foot down and reminded the colonel of survival school days where we were told not to wear after shave and all that stuff on a combat mission. That's all my guys needed if they had to bail out over Laos. Of course, I lost the debate, I passed on the colonel's words to the troops, and we continued to ignore what we considered his advice. What's the sayin, Same —-, different day.

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William August 18, 2010 at 7:07 am

And I think christian means "where connecting" instead of "were connecting".

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3rdGroupDad August 18, 2010 at 7:39 am

Don't have facial hair and the Afg's. will not trust or even deal with you. Who's half assed idea is this. None of the deciding powers that be were probably ever down in the dirt dealing with these third world Neanderthals. As for the ball caps and all the other trappings, what do they want "Three Piece Suits" to conduct business? Its not a morale thing its a necessity to have this in this part of the world in this ****-hole of existance.

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Mike August 18, 2010 at 8:49 am

Enter text right here!Well back in 1984 before I retired from the Navy I had a beard, then downgraded to a goatee and then the powers to be decided their sailors needed to be clean shaven so away went the beards and or any facial hair with the exception of a neatly trimmed mustach. I say let the Snake Eaters do what they need to do to mold into the local regions. Yes some of these Spec Ops personnel need to blend in, well let them blend in. The older afhgans won't work with the younger looking kids that havent been around the Spec Ops long enough to rate a beard, special hats and other unusual gear they wear in the field.

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ckc August 18, 2010 at 8:50 am

Special Forces ODA and ODD never listen to the brass, Their green berets are a a testament to that. They will continue to do what they want anyway.

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nraddin August 18, 2010 at 9:40 am

Did no one else RTFA? It reads "commanders now want “professional-looking” soldiers in the field – at least those who deal mostly with Afghan troops, not civilians." eg troops that are training other troops need to look professional to help encourage professionalism in the native military personnel, troops working with civilians can continue to where clothing and facial hair that helps them blend with native civilians.

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nraddin August 18, 2010 at 9:45 am

That should read "I think you meant 'rapport' instead of 'repoire'. Personally I don't care but as you seem to care enough to complain about it I figured you could use the English lesson. You should never use double quotes unless the person was actually speaking, and because he has already written it, it's in the past not the present. The past tense of mean in meant.

Figured this highly dyslexic guy could give you some pointer sense language rules are obviously more important to you than meaning.

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Donny August 19, 2010 at 7:19 am

My apologies, my man, but I'm afraid that the use of inverted commas as above is stylistically valid, as the rules you mention may have been what you were taught, but they are not universal. Additionally, the semantics are valid in the present tense. You have your own Muphry violation, though!

Also, and more importantly to my mind, I come to Kit Up for high-quality journalism about HSLD gear, and I expect their editors to pick up on such things as spelling errors. I may expect too much from Kit Up, but I hope not.

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Surge Vet August 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

Actually, beards with our military went out with WWI and the introduction of Mustard Gas. As was mentioned above, the reasoning for the requirement to be clean shaven was strictly related to Biological / Chemical warfare; gas masks won't seal properly with a beard.

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Hardcase August 18, 2010 at 10:39 am

So much for letting special forces blend in!

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hahaha August 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

Just more proof that the army is run by a bunch of idiots who can't tell their ass from a whole in the ground. They have to try and control every aspect of a soldiers life. If they need to grow beards to get the job done, let them. And also one more thin, **** the ROE's if the weren't so do damn stupid we could have been out of there 4 or 5 years ago. Just nuke the whole middle east Osama will die eventually Oh wait we can't do that because we are addicted to the oil that is their and any country that has oil we basically bend over and let the do whatever they want.

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Tom Gallagher August 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

The "ring knockers" have been giving Spec Ops a hard time for as long as I can remember and I was putting up with their crap from '62 to '68. Somtimes it makes you wonder if they want to win or not.

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Edward Yee August 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

Doesn't help the aforementioned problem of them actually liking general purpose forces more, does it?

"a red-headed guy with a bushy beard really does NOT look like a very convincing local." – Ruanne

Ditto for standing out by being the only "in-shape" guy for miles… heh. Reminds me of an anecdote when a GSG-9 mission to free hostages in Somalia was scrubbed… apparently just about ANYBODY could visibly see who was an operator. Personally I say whatever accomplishes the mission… meaning beard OR no beard, whichever the AFGHANS — not us, not even our SOF — prefer.

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Always a Marine August 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

Military.com KitUp Comment

Personally, I say "What the hell, who gives a rat's azz". Leave these guys alone and just let them do their job. With or without, is it really going to make that much difference? I would hope not. But as usual, when you're the one directly impacted and you know the order is directed towards you and your unit, it is awfully hard to swallow without resentment.

(continued)

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Always a Marine August 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

But ….
I have always tried to support and understand the SpecOps guys and the way they think & work. They tend to be a slightly different breed of man and due to the general nature of their operations they tend to operate/act off the beaten path (so to speak). They generally perform this way as well. For as long as I can remember there has always been some little something (i.e. beards, ball caps, etc) that tends to set them appart from your standard grunt (no offense intended here) and for the most part, they have always had their way. There was never any disrespect intended on their part and they have pretty much been able to "get away" with their actions. Hell, these guys go where your std everyday soldier would seldom survive but for a very short period of time. Their ability to have their way (so to speak) generally comes down to their particular unit, that particular operation or their direct chain of command and unit customs.

(continues)

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Always a Marine August 18, 2010 at 11:21 am

That being said, it isn't their beard or the type of cover they have that is going to make a difference. It always comes down to training, experience and their ability to trust their brothers in arms on that mission. Sometimes though (our command officers, guys in the know or some member of the political body determines they know what is best needed for us than the OIC's that are actually on the front line with a more direct line of sight to what is actually happening) their is a decision made that is very unpopular with the people directly impacted by that decision.

(continues)

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Always a Marine August 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

I have read several comments that beards allow them to better blend in with the locals but is that really true. Myself, I have never had much of a beard. And do you really think the enemy couldn't distinguish the difference between American troops and those of their own population? For one thing, we are mostly going to stand out from a height standpoint or some other physical attribute. I know when I was in country in 1967, it was extremely difficult for even the shortest soldier to blend in with our enemy.

Bottom line is they will most likely comply and hopefully no one dies as a direct result of this very unpopular decision/order.

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deadhorse August 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

Leave the clean shaven Garrison look for the brass and the Fobbits. These Monday morning QBs commenting on this make me laugh. If you've never deployed to this environment, keep your mouth shut.

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NILES RA August 18, 2010 at 11:30 am

THIS IS ALL SO VERY TRUE,,,LET OUR MILTARY GET THE JOB DONE AND GET OUT…SEMPER-FI..

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defendthedefenders August 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm

let the SF guys win stop tieing there hands to normal military regulations there not normal forces i think all the generals should fight from the frnt and not the rear maybe then the would worry more about destroying the enemy
and not grooming regulations thanks to all the SF men for what you do give em hell

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Silver40Streak August 18, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Just finished visiting with a SF member, who spent a tour each in both Iraq and Afghanistan. To have done his job without a beard, etc., would have insured his immediate death. Part of the time, he was dropped out into the desert and his task was to identify the bad guy/s and take apporate action. Properly dressed with full beard, speaking their language, he survived three tours. I remember going out on patrol with polished boots in Vietnam. The top brass wanted all of their dead personnel returning from the field to look very respective. As for blaming the REMS, are military personnel receiving mottors, rockets, and what else while they are supporting the GRUNTS, really the bad people? Only the Senior Officers and Politicians make policy. Just remember, who suggested that the Volunteer Military Personnel over Seas should be happy to pay for their own medical insurance. No one forced them to volunteer and to actually go over to a war zone.

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Joe August 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Fail to see how skull and crossbones and patches like them are professional. It was cool when I was 13, but I outgrew it.
Beards, however, are a different story. They should be required of anyone who interacts with the local Afghans. No brainer.

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CA NCO August 19, 2010 at 3:08 am

I'm a CA NCO and I rip any Soldier in my team or CO wearing an "infidel" patch. Beards are culturally significant but displaying an antagonistic message on your body while trying to develop a relationship is counterproductive. COIN strategy makes this obvious. With the ODAs I've deployed with I've noticed two types; the young pipeline recruits and the seasoned MSGs. Some kids need to realize the image they are putting out and consider if being "tactic – cool" is better than being a mentor (FID) or effective communicator with the local populace.

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SPC_squivs August 19, 2010 at 4:15 am

I guess there is only one thing to be done. They all need to convert to Sikhism so they can be allowed to wear beards and turbans via religious preference. There's now precident in the army (Cpt Tejdeep Rattan) for that, no way the upper brass can stomp on that!

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Ricosniper August 21, 2010 at 3:26 am

Im glad im retired, let my brothers be. The new images of these corporate commanders as i call them is what kill our soldiers. Whats next , a 3piece camo suit and a little bottle of cologne . i will not work commanders, you are becoming the enemy you want us exposed.

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really guys? really? August 21, 2010 at 7:00 am

I for one, support the beard!! As previously mentioned, a beard is a very important symbol of manhood in the Arab nations. I think to take away the S.O's beards, and thereby their ability to interact and connect with the locals, is simply blindly refusing to accept that there is any validity to other cultures, even if it costs the lives of our troops. Andis why we have had problems with the middle east since the 1200's

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mike August 23, 2010 at 10:53 am

Actually it comes down to uniformity and discipline. A clean shaven face projects an image that someone cares about their appearance just as a fresh haircut and a pressed uniform. I personally hated having to wear class A's and shaving everyday, but I did it without complaint because that is what was expected of me as a Marine.

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mike August 23, 2010 at 10:56 am

(end of prior post got cut off) However, Spec ops have a different set of rules they follow. If growing a beard helps with mission accomplishment then go for it.

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Jason January 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I think it's interesting reading these comments that most of the people that are pro-clean shaven look are older American men and most pro-let the special ops do what they need to do are younger American men. It shows a clear difference in thinking. The younger generation understands that we don't just go in and "area bomb" the cities then bring in the army behind it to take over. Instead we send small groups of well trained well equipped troops who specialize in the local customs to go in and see what the local populace wants and needs to get the bad guys out of there. We're not fighting a conventional war therefore we shouldn't restrict these guys to conventional warfare traditions!!! And since most of the 10 years spent in Afghanistan have been severely underfunded and undermanned, I say lets give the guys doing the actual fighting whatever they need or think they need to get the job done.

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Jason January 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

We're fighting a counterinsurgency. If you've ever studied a book on insurgency's you know that you either win by simply wiping out the local population and then enslaving the ones that survived like the Romans did to win wars or run a counterinsurgency campaign aimed at protecting the civilian population and changing the things that lead people to join an insurgency in the first place such as poverty, poor conditions, etc.

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Ahab January 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm

If I can't have my beard then take away theirs! It's actually better for them to have beards,I agree with that. But I can't help it if it makes me feel a bit better to hear Spec-Ops have to shave like the rest of us. I hate being clean shaved.

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snipes March 7, 2011 at 7:44 am

Thank you go back to playing your video game

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Bill March 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm

So Bob I take it you served in the military in the SPEC OPS community!!! If not then you have no right to even make a post. Those who have lived and been in the SPEC OPS community have the right to wear anything they want. These men put themself through the worlds toughest training, if they want to wear a hat that has skulls on it who care, if they want beards who cares. These men work longer more harsh hours then any American out there. They put there lives on the line and if they are willing to die for there country then let them be comfortable.

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Batguano March 8, 2011 at 3:35 am

If I was an Afghan who has seen war almost his entire life and who has lived in the dirt and rocks. And then I had to deal with some young shiny face uppity West Point educated Army Officer trying to tell me how to live, I would be pist! Now on the other hand if some spec-ops warrior came up to me looking like someone I can relate to. Speaking to me as an equal and he sits with me and drinks tea with me and he tells me how we can work together. I choose the guy who walks the walk. Not the guy who talks and talks!

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Ondrayz March 8, 2011 at 6:40 am

Out of sync…this guy!

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MacDaver March 10, 2011 at 3:42 am

I've got a crazy idea! Why not, instead of regulating Spec Ops soldiers that have special needs and requirements for mission success, why not filter the photo's. Most of the photography coming out are from military photographers attached to certain units. So why not filter the spec ops guys out of the publicity photos. I get it that propaganda is pretty important for keeping confidence in the simple minded masses, who cannot, or will not do the research themselves. But it is far more important for our SF to have every opportunity, large or small, do achieve mission success. This whole thing is ridiculous to me. If I were out there, facing greater numbers, on foreign terrain, and my mission success could be limited because I didn't get proper intel from a local contact, because he was wary of me, or didn't respect me do to my overly western appearance, my mission could be compromised and/or me or my unit could get killed. That is unacceptable.

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Rebecca March 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Hey there-

My name is Rebecca and I'm one of the Casting Producers for a new military competition show for Spike TV. We’re looking for SOF operators who are currently INACTIVE, physically and mentally strong, and great with weapons. It's a tall order, but I'm just hoping to spread the word.

For more info or to recommend someone for the show, please call REBECCA at 818.461.1638.

Hope to hear from you soon!

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John Thomas March 30, 2011 at 9:31 am

Let Special Ops do what they need to do,they are not your everyday Soldier,Having to kiss Ass with the brass grow some balls,I hated having to kiss ass,after comming back from hard times,I could care less about brass,they do not make a soldier,You are free to do what you need to do.If everyone has beards in Country do as the romans do.,plus shaving in cold water tears your face up.

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Joe M April 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Bob, you sound like some REMF useless staff officer who's only function is to get you political ticket punched and move up your useless, unrealistic commissioned ladder to "to the top". Why don't you take your worthless ass to Afgan and walk around in the field with "white sidewalls" and paint a bullseye on your back. Spit shine and starch doesn't make a super soldier. As a retired 1SG VN vet with 2 years on a LRRP team real life tells me survival in the real world of combat very much depends on being anything but conventional, camoflague to blend into your surroundings and morph into whatever image the enemy is projecting. To make a difference you have to to what they do, where they do it and the way they do it. You, on the other hand, need to go away, quit watching so much television, move out of your mommies house and get a life. Sua Sponte…..RANGERS LEAD THE WAY !!

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Stogie April 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Actually, beards went out in the late 80s. I would rather look like a man than a 15 year old kid that is so worried about shaving in the field so I don't get yelled at opposed to fighting a war. You are either one of two things, a civilian or a Marine… and if you are the latter then spend some time in Recon, then back and see if you MLG like views change. Fuck fuck games are for bored warriors that aren't doing their job.

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HatSix May 12, 2011 at 8:40 am

The Army Fashion Police Strikes Again! First Berets for Everyone (right up there with giving Jr a soccer trophy even though his team sucked); Then Greens to Blues! Now they'll look great! and now Beards. Perhaps the brass should go do a direct action mission freshly shaven – lead by example! Does DA now have a fashion consultant? This is surreal…

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BOWIE June 30, 2011 at 7:16 am

Having served in Viet Nam, Afghanistan, & Iraq; it is my contention that when shined boots and slick faces are required in the rear, it is no longer a good war to be in. Also, I know for a fact that when the boys with the beards show up, the Talibs know they will become martyrs if they do not skedaddle. "The bearded Devils that bring the lions" is good psyops in my opinion.

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JACK June 30, 2011 at 8:09 am

The entire beard thing is a scam. Too many guys want great pictures of when they wrere "there". What are the beards for? Too blend in? Are they wearing our uniforms? Have they changed religions? Do they ALL wear them?

None of the Rangers wear them. Why not?

Discipline is the issue.

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JACK June 30, 2011 at 8:13 am

DELTA perhaps but everyone else wears a standard uniform in garrison. Having served in both a Group as a ODA CDR and an ODB CDR and a Ranger BN, it is indeed about discipline and presenting the right image. We impress no one with beards.

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Volfie July 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm

You fixed "rapport" and not "whose" (instead of who's) and "where" (instead of were)!

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Tom July 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm

unless you are 18 series butt out, you don't know!

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Tom July 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Parade soldiers don't win wars, go back to briefcase and arm chair where you belong.

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COLONEL June 1, 2012 at 8:47 am

OIF3 Vet Pink humvees? Guns that shoot flowers ?
Are you talking about Spec opps or for the DADT that are now free to express them selves ?

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frank February 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm

all the more reason that USASOC should become it's own branch of the military and leave army regulations behind

this is nothing more than the psychological subjugation ploy of uniformity (conditioning subordinates) at work

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Tim March 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I don't want to be the one to tell these gentleman that they have to shave, loose the oakley's, and ditch the hats…..just seems like a bad idea to me. They are located in a culture that has a strong root in beards and it could be seen as a form of respect when working with other bearded men, as well as being a big blade culture so are they going to say that these men can't carry good knives because it doesn't look professional…geez what is wrong with people

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Aven Brauer October 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Its not a fucking fashion show to the locals a beard is a mark of manhood and was in Europe and later America for centuries you didn't see the Vikings or Germanic and Celtic warriors or the Huns or Spartans, or American civil war troops rolling around with boy faces did you?, Spec Ops doesn't need to have this regulation, they are spec ops not some fucking grunts who are 18 years old and just recently fucked the prom queen, these are men not 18 year old boys, let them do what they want, they put there lives on the line doing the toughest jobs the military offers, looking like boys is not professional, its just dumb. Its the military not a fucking board room meeting and even then I think the shaven clean look is out, I'd rather not look like a 18 year old boy and more like a man, and i'm sure these guys who are in their 20s, and 30s mostly feel the same.

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