The U.S. Army has denied requests by two soldiers to dress and groom themselves according to their religious beliefs under a revised Pentagon policy, a spokesman said on Monday.
The policy approved on January 22 was mainly expected to affect Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and other groups that wear beards, long hair or articles of clothing such as turbans and yarmulkes. It also could affect Wiccans and others who obtain tattoos for religious reasons.
Under the guidelines, the military service branches were encouraged to allow people to dress according to religious custom so long as it did not interfere with good order and discipline within their units.
But the policy has been criticized by lawmakers and members of the affected religious groups, who say the Defense Department is still setting a hurdle essentially prohibiting some people from joining the service.