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Chuck Hagel Orders All Military Services To Review Their Hairstyle Policies

The defense secretary's response followed a complaint by the Congressional Black Caucus about the Army's ban on twists, dreadlocks, and Afros.

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed all military services to review their hairstyle policies in response to a complaint lodged by the Congressional Black Caucus about the Army's new grooming regulation.

AP Photo/US Army

The order, referenced as Army Regulation 670-1, banned twists, dreadlocks, and Afros (defined as a style in which the “bulk of hair exceeds more than 2” from scalp”) and regulated that braids and cornrows must be small in size.

The updated policies were criticized for being racially biased against African-American women with natural hair. Lawmakers addressed their concerns in an April 10 letter to Hagel.

In his letter to the Congressional Black Caucus, Hagel directed every service to review their hairstyle policies "as they pertain to African American women to ensure standards are fair and respectful of our diverse force."

Hagel also wrote:

"I want to assure you that, while none of the Army's revised grooming and appearance policies were designed or intended to discriminate or disparage against any service members, I take your concerns very seriously."

Hagel said he would make "appropriate adjustments to DoD policy" after reviewing the Service recommendations.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

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