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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
US Marines prohibit large tattoos
Tattoo of US soldier in Iraq
The US Army eased its tattoo rules to aid enrolment
The US Marines are banning the wearing of large tattoos, saying they do not represent "traditional values".

From Sunday, tattoos on the head or neck, or large tattoos on arms or legs will not be allowed. Marines already with the tattoos are exempt.

Unit commanders will photograph and document all existing tattoos to make sure Marines do not touch them up.

Dozens of Marines are reportedly queuing up at tattoo parlours to beat the deadline.

Jail term

Marines have long been banned from having racist or sexist tattoos.

I believe tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values
James Conway,
Marine commandant

But from 1 April, "sleeve" tattoos that cover most of an arm or leg will be banned, as will smaller half or quarter sleeve tattoos if they are visible on arms or legs when a Marine is wearing shorts and T-shirt.

"Tattoos or brands that are prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale, or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the Marine Corps are also prohibited," the new rules say.

Marine Corps Commandant James Conway said: "Some Marines have taken the liberty of tattooing themselves to a point that is contrary to our professional demeanour and high standards.

"I believe tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values."

Anyone caught with fresh ink in the wrong places could face up to two years in prison.

Marine Cpl Jeremy Slaton, who has tattooed skulls spelling Death down his right arm, told Associated Press he would have to delay getting Life tattooed down the other.

"I guess I'll get the other half later... It's kind of messed up."

Tattoo artist Jerry Layton of Oceanside, California, told AP he was booked up with Marines ahead of Sunday's deadline.

The US Navy and Air Force have strict tattoo rules.

But the Army relaxed them last year as it struggles with filling its ranks.

US Marines speak out about the ban

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