In the Times, the Sgt. Major seems taken aback at the scope of resistance to the new regs. I think I might have the reason he's looking for.
It's a trope-near-cliche to think soldier=mindless drone, though the truth is the exact opposite. Heinlein said it better than me, in that it's true Caesar (and likely Napoleon) could use mindless drones by the score, but a modern force has nearly no use for such. The USMC mantra of "improvise, overcome, and adapt" has been nothing less than crucial in the War on Terror. ROE's have changed on the hour. Packs of turbaned Macguyvers made and placed IEDs in a race against our TTP's countering them. Our PA and CA people spent the entire war against the ropes thanks to their propaganda machines. And in every case, on every front, we improvised, overcame, and adapted.
The U.S. doesn't have a military that shuts up and blindly does what they're told. They've had one that takes initiative, solves problems, and keeps on going for the duration of GWOT.
In short, the good Sgt. Major has a lot of creative soldiers nowadays.
But the thing about creative people is, they need an outlet. And fixing problems on the fly doesn't always cut the mustard.
Uniformity is a good and noble thing. Now that I no longer run the risk of appearing in one, I can appreciate the beauty of a pass in review, and the sight of a thousand moving as one. But individuality is there as well, whether we like it or not. Our modern warriors are kept uniform in most aspects of their individual lives: clothing, hair, speech, what have you. One of their few outlets is their very skin, their tattoos.
And what a canvas for a warrior's creativity it is. Our stories are forged in blood and finished in ink. What media on earth is more fitting, then, than the one media that encompasses both? It is in our very bodies that we mark our stories. Stories of those who stood at our left and right and those who we left safe home. Stories of those who fell at our side and those who fell at our hands. Our thoughts, dreams, visions, memories, nightmares, all that we are displayed in our flesh.
Just the other day I heard of a fellow veteran who had what I believe will soon be an iconic symbol: A crossed-out number 22. A pledge to himself not to become one of the 22 veterans who take their lives daily.
A professional appearance will be kept, I believe, if tattoos are not visible while wearing full dress uniforms. Otherwise, our creative warriors should be permitted their stories.