Rules around beards and hairstyles for Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers in uniform have been relaxed as the organisation takes a further step to embrace diversity and individuality among troops.
The significant shift in policies aims to modernise the defence force and is in line with continuing efforts to cultivate a more appealing and inclusive environment for current and prospective members.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Ben Beasley explained: “The rationale behind allowing beards is twofold. Firstly, the RBR no longer trains with respirators, rendering the traditional need for clean-shaven faces obsolete.
“More importantly, our observations and studies show that in other services – such as the RAF, the Royal Navy, European and Canadian forces – allowing beards has maintained, if not enhanced, their productivity levels. This evidence provides a strong foundation for our decision, ensuring operational effectiveness remains our top priority.
“Permitting women to wear their hair down when the situation allows is a step towards recognising the unique needs and identities of our female soldiers. This policy has been successfully implemented in the British Army for several years, proving its feasibility and positive impact on morale and inclusivity.”
A trial of the new rules was carried out over several months and feedback was overwhelmingly positive, indicating a boost in morale and a sense of empowerment among troops.
Lt Col Beasley added: “This response reinforces our belief that respecting individual choices can coexist with maintaining high standards of discipline and professionalism.
“The RBR is not making these changes because of fashionable trends but in recognition of diversity and inclusivity.”
Uniformity has not been forgotten in the policy amendments, which include permission for males to wear full beards that must be kept short and neatly trimmed. Facial hair must not be dyed or highlighted.
With respect to hairstyles, men may wear twists, locks or cornrows, providing that the length does not reach the collar or onto the ears, unless the style is worn for religious reasons.
For females, the requirement to always wear longer hair in a bun when in uniform has been removed, although hair must be well-groomed and secured or styled back from the face.
The hairstyles policy does not override the need to meet ceremonial standards or specific working practices, such as those in place for food handling and hygiene, or safety when working with machinery or firearms.
Major Thomas Wood, the Regiment’s Executive Officer, highlighted: “To the public, these changes signify more than just aesthetic flexibility. They represent our commitment to evolving with the times, to respecting individuality, and to fostering a culture of inclusiveness and respect.
“The RBR is not just about adapting to modern standards but also about leading by example in creating an environment where everyone feels valued and can thrive.”
He added: “We believe that by embracing diversity in all its forms, we are not only strengthening our unit but also enriching the experiences of our members.”
Legal residents of Bermuda aged 18 to 52 are invited to sign up to the Regiment ahead of the next recruit training package, which will run from February 11 to 23.
An enlistment night will be held from 6pm on February 1, which is the deadline for initiating the joining process.
• For more information or to join, visit bermudaregiment.bm or call 238-1045.
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