The US Air Force on Friday updated its regulations to formally allow airmen to wear beard, turban and hijab for religious accommodations.
In the updation to AFI 36-2903, “Dress and personal appearance of Air Force personnel,” allows airmen to request a waiver to wear religious apparel such as beards, turbans and hijabs, as long as they are “neat and conservative” and present a professional and well-groomed appearance.”
The new regulations rules that beard must be maintained to a length not to exceed 2 inches when measured from the bottom of the chin. If the beard hair is longer than the required measurement then it must be rolled or tied to achieve the requirement.
An Airman may wear a turban (or under-turban or patka, as appropriate) made of a subdued material in a colour that closely resembles the headgear for an assigned uniform. Rank will be displayed on the turban or under-turban when worn in circumstances where military headgear is customarily worn and removed in circumstances where military headgear is not usually worn, such as indoors or in no-hat/no-salute designated areas.
Wing Commanders may assign conditions where the under-turban will be worn instead of the turban.
The hijab (headscarf) can be made of a subdued material in a colour that resembles the airman’s assigned uniform, such as black, brown, green, tan or navy blue, the regulation said.
It must be free of designs or markings, except an airman wearing the Airman Battle Uniform or Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform can wear a matching camouflage hijab.
The Air Force has granted several airmen permission to wear beards, turbans and the hijab for religious reasons in recent years.
In June 2019, Airman 1st Class Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa became the first active-duty Sikh airman allowed to wear a turban, beard and long hair.
In 2018, Staff Sgt. Abdul Rahman Gaitan became the first Muslim airman to receive a beard waiver for observing religious. Capt. Maysaa Ouza became the first Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps officer to wear the hijab.
At least two other airmen, who follow pagan or Norse Heathen faiths, have been granted permission to wear a beard.