The Ministry of Defence has softened their approach on appearance regulations of recruits. The aim is to attract more skilled cyber-specialists to join up.
ARMY HAIRCUT REGULATIONS: The British armed forces are well known for their strict approach towards body hair.
Even so, it appears that they have eased some stipulations on long hair and facial beards.
They want to entice so-called 'cyber warriors' into military recruitment.
Officially, the guidelines of the Royal Navy outlaw facial hair. That also includes 'designer stubble' and any beards seen as taking 'an excessive amount of time to grow'.
But, in a surprise move, the Ministry of Defence has softened its ruling approach concerning their cyber-warfare division.
The report says they will allow certain specialist recruits a waiver. They have relaxed their adherence to general military regulations on appearance and body hair.
There is a valid reason why British army rules and regulations are being relaxed. It is to attract the country's experts for its cyber reserve. It is not uncommon for hi-tech cyber individuals to exhibit long hair and what many see as 'unkempt beards'.
This sudden revelation follows a 2015 Air Chief Marshal report. It claimed the MoD had waived military fitness tests for cyber reservists. They cited the leniency to avoid dissuading skilled individuals who were too unfit to meet physical standards.
There is no doubt that cyber warfare has become an accepted and prominent threat to security. In 2015, the top brass in the UK issued warnings that ISIS cyber-attacks could target hospitals and power stations around the country.
A high ranking politician addressed the seriousness of the situation by stating: "What if our electricity supply, or our air-traffic control, or our hospitals were successfully attacked online. The impact could be measured not just in terms of economic damage - but in lives lost".
Thus, the British military is drawing on home-grown talent from the technological private sector to keep pace with cybercriminals.
It appears the new rules will mean making concessions to long standing tradition in British army haircut regulations.
There is another significance in all this. It is the recognition and value seen in technical skills towards warfare in the 21st century. Even so, relaxing the rules on body hair in the military is not all plain sailing and there has been opposition.
One source at a South West military base said the sight of cyber reservists displaying long hair while in uniform angered some soldiers. The approach got blasted as 'disrespectful' by this particular source.
Many people have worked for the MoD on IT projects as consultants - even those with long hair and a beard. The argument is that if they can set up IT systems for the RAF and Royal Navy, there's no reason why they shouldn't wear their hair and beard the same way as in any other IT function.
The situation may upset some members of the traditional armed forces. Seeing 'cyber-troops' not conforming to their dress codes disturbs many. So, having different dress codes with different uniforms (or plain clothes) could be the solution.
There is one very famous regiment based at Hereford. They allow (and they encourage) 'non-military standard' haircuts and facial hair. It is one of the UK forces which most others look up to and respect in depth. Let's leave it by saying - 'Who Dares Wins'.
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MoD Relaxes its Haircut Regulations for Specialist Recruits in the United Kingdom