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The Canadian Armed Forces will be easing its restrictions on beards while in military personnel are in uniform.

In a Canadian Forces General Order (CANFORGEN) issued this week, service members will be permitted to wear beards provided they are neatly trimmed, worn with a moustache and no more than two centimetres in bulk.

A member will, on their own accord or upon direction from their Commanding Officer or their CO’s designate, shave off unsuccessful attempts to grow a beard.

Beards can be worn once a service member has completed their Developmental Period One (DP-1) or attained their Operationally Functional Point (OFP). The intent of this modified policy is to ensure the CAF maintains operational capabilities while strengthening organizational morale and team cohesion, the CANFORGEN noted.

Commanders of commands, Task Force commanders and Commanding Officers retain the right to order restrictions on the wearing of a beard to meet safety and operational requirements, the CANFORGEN states. This includes restrictions pertaining to operations and training where, in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) environment or CBRN training environment, a beard can be ordered to be removed to ensure force protection on operations or training. Such restrictions will be as temporary as feasible.

Where current CAF equipment capabilities cannot ensure force protection or the ability to effectively employ safety systems while wearing a beard, beard restrictions for members using that equipment for operational or safety reasons may be put in place by a commanding officer.

The new policy reverses a longstanding tradition of dress and deportment in the Canadian military that prohibited beards. They were permitted for sailors in the Royal Canadian Navy and other trades, such as the assault pioneers in the infantry. Exceptions had been extended for religious requirements and members with a medical condition which precluded shaving.

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Sean Chase

Sean Chase is a newspaper journalist with 25 years experience. He also serves in the Canadian Armed Forces as a battery sergeant-major at 42nd Field Regiment in Pembroke, Ontario

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Canadian Military Family Magazine