A military tattoo is made up of four different types of tattoos, the first two being “battle tattoos”. A “battle tattoo” involves a tattoo on the top of the forearm called a “scabbard tattoo” because of the placement of a scabbard on it. For example, if we look at a picture of a soldier or sailor, his scabbard is clearly placed at the front of his forearm. This is called a battle tattoo and the scabbard tattoo can either be left as is or be replaced with a battle helmet.
In a “battle tattoo” the scabbard tattoo is placed on the back of the hand as a shield, called a “shoulder tattoo”. Most of these tattoos are also called a “battle tattoo”, so the “shoulder tattoo” would be called a “shoulder battle tattoo”. As the name suggests the “shoulder tattoo” is often used as a shield because of its positioning for protection.
The third type of military tattoo is a tattoo for “general tattooing”, which means that this type of military tattoo usually features a large battle helmet at some point on the forearm.
What tattoos should I wear in the field? I don’t know the color. What the heck do I have to wear?
In military field dress the dress uniform is based on the standard uniform of military clothing. It is a uniform in a certain size and color. Some colors or patterns of tattoos are not allowed in the dress uniform. These are called “custom tattoos”. Many of our troops choose not to have a “custom” tattoo.
The third type of tattoo you are allowed to have is if you work in a military environment and have been trained to work in that specific environment. Our field dress requirements are so strict that we do not allow tattoos when we work and train on the field.
What do you mean by my “personalization”? Are you going to make me choose the color of a tattoo?
Personalization refers to adding certain designs or features to tattoos to ensure a military appearance is consistent with uniform standards. By adding additional design, you increase your personal identification for your tattoos so soldiers will know they are carrying a U.S. Army “dress uniform” when they wear it. Examples of personalization is adding a patch on the lapel or on the right shoulder. These patches often include “I am a US Army soldier” or other identification that should be on the back when you wear the uniforms.
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