The Pentagon can resist all it wants, but beards have made a comeback.
The Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society even conducted a study to explore how individuals with (or without) facial hair are perceived by others. Women rated men with facial hair as more attractive and appearing healthier than those who were clean-shaven — and now male service members want change.
Today's military men, however, are just going to have to rely on the uniform to gain an edge over civilians — since the advent of the gas mask, facial hair has been strictly regulated by the military. There are certain exceptions, however, such as a new regulation that will allow service members to wear a beard for religious reasons or operations where a beard could help service members blend in better with the local population.
But until the U.S. military embraces the beard, it'll remain a rare sight on our warriors.
All the more reason to admire the best military beards in history.
In 2002, Scott Nelson photographed a U.S. Army Special Forces unit in Afghanistan as they began to amp up their pursuit of terrorists in the the area. One of the soldiers photographed goes by the nickname "Cowboy" — and he's been rather shrouded in mystery ever since.
Nonetheless, it could be argued that he has the OG operator beard — so much so that Danger Close Games used his likeness as inspiration when finding and outfitting the model for their Medal of Honor game.
Something about the tactical environment makes this otherwise-too-long-in-my-opinion beard completely okay.
2. Gen. Ambrose Burnside
Guess why he's on this list.
No list of military facial hair would be complete without the man whose whiskers were so incredible that the world named a patch of facial hair after him.
3. Prince Harry of Wales
Prince Harry and an American wounded warrior in a wheelchair shake hands at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.
The pictures of the bearded prince in his flight suit at the 2015 Battle of Britain Flypast are why I am now in full favor of allowing beards in uniform.
Harry served from 2005-2015, even secretly deploying on combat missions in Afghanistan before his location was publicized and he was pulled out for security reasons. He's the epitome of cool, he fully recognizes the meaning and importance of service, and he's proof that a military beard can still look professional.
4. Ulysses S. Grant
The man led the Union to victory and served two terms as president. That is the beard of victory right there.
5. Maj. Gen. George Crook
Crook cut his teeth fighting Native American tribes in Oregon before the Civil War. When he was called on to serve the Union, he used the same tactics in the face of the rebel enemy. His beard is exactly the kind you'd expect from a man the Apaches called "Grey Wolf."
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