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Irish Defence Forces Rewrite the Style Manual for a Modern Twist

admin | February 1, 2024

The Irish Defence Forces have announced a significant relaxation of personal appearance standards, ushering in a new era of inclusivity and diversity. These changes, based on recommendations from the Commission on the Defence Forces, aim to modernize the military and make it more representative of contemporary Ireland.

Effective immediately, male troops are now permitted to grow beards during routine duty, with a careful application process overseen by unit commanders. Sergeant Major Keith Caffrey, who led the initiative, emphasized that while beards are allowed, there are specific criteria regarding their length and shape, ensuring a balance between individual expression and maintaining a professional military appearance, especially in operational environments.

Female soldiers, previously restricted to short hair or a bun secured with a net, now have the freedom to choose from up to six different hairstyles. This change, along with the allowance of nail polish and an increase in permitted earrings to three, reflects a commitment to recognizing and respecting individual identities within the military.

Sgt Maj Caffrey highlighted the importance of these changes in adapting to the Ireland of 2024, stating, “This is about respecting the individual, allowing them to be themselves but at the same time, regulating to be a military force.”

The alterations in appearance standards extend to fake tan, makeup, and a range of nail varnish colors for female soldiers. While there is a clear color palette for nail varnish, primarily consisting of “neutral” tones, the intention is to complement the uniform without detracting from its professional image.

In his discussion with RTÉ’s News at One, Sgt Maj Caffrey explained that the Defence Forces aimed to be “as progressive as possible,” acknowledging the need to balance modernity with health, safety, and operational effectiveness.

While these changes have been generally well-received, Sgt Maj Caffrey acknowledged that some traditionalists within the military may express reservations. However, he emphasized that these alterations do not compromise standards but instead reflect the evolving societal landscape of Ireland in 2024.

In addition to these appearance-related changes, the Defence Forces are actively exploring ways to accommodate various religious and cultural beliefs to attract a more diverse pool of recruits. This move aligns with a broader initiative to create a military that truly represents the rich tapestry of contemporary Irish society.

As the Irish Defence Forces embrace a more inclusive approach to personal appearance standards, they set a precedent for modern military forces, acknowledging the importance of diversity and individual expression while maintaining the discipline and professionalism expected of a military organization.

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