December 13, 2022

Nearly Two Dozen Air Force Honor Guardsmen Are Sporting Beards Following Policy Change


Journalist: Thomas Novelly

Joining the Honor Guard is a voluntary special duty role. Katherine L. Kuzminski, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank who researches military culture, told on Tuesday that roles like that often look good when an airman is up for a promotion or high-level assignment. And while Kuzminski said the policy is a needed step, it's not clear how it will play out in practice for positively affecting an airman's career."

There can be a gap between policy and culture, so the fact that the policy has changed is a good first step," Kuzminski told in an interview. "But the second part, the cultural piece, is more impactful when it comes to future promotions or assignments to higher grades. It opens the door, but it also comes down to how a shaving waiver is perceived."

In August, reported that the Department of the Air Force was discussing a pilot program that would allow airmen and Guardians to grow beards. Kuzminski said it makes the Air Force and Space Force the first branches to look at a facial hair pilot program not tied to a religious or medical waiver, which would help normalize facial hair among the ranks.

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  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...