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Close shave for special ops forces in Afghanistan

U.S. special forces in Afghanistan have sported beards and local garb in an effort to blend in.
U.S. special forces in Afghanistan have sported beards and local garb in an effort to blend in.  

From Mike Mount
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan have been ordered to shave and wear regular uniforms to look more like U.S. soldiers rather than locals, according to an official at the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.

The order to shave facial hair and to "re-adapt uniform and grooming standards" came after a special operations commander, Maj. Gen. Geoff Lambert, saw numerous photographs of troops operating on the ground in Afghanistan with full beards and partial uniforms, the official said.

Lambert, a career special operations soldier based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, conferred with the joint commander on the ground in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Dan McNeil, and senior special operations forces leadership, the official said.

An agreement between the two commanders within the last week was made that special operations forces would return to the standard uniform.

CNN's Mike Chinoy reports that the top brass have ordered U.S. forces in Afghanistan to clean up their act and shave those Afghan-style beards. (September 13)

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The decision came after the perception that the grooming standard of the troops was out of hand and that the time had passed for the need of the soldiers to blend in.

The official said that the leadership put the highest priority on the security of its forces and would not give an order for grooming if it would put the troops at harm.

Early on in the war, special operations forces adapted their uniforms to local culture with baggy clothing and scarves, though elements of the uniform if seen up close clearly identified them as U.S. soldiers, the official said. They were not passing themselves off as workers from non-governmental organizations, he added.

Some reports have said that NGO workers were not happy with the special operations soldiers trying to fit in as it put those workers in danger.

The official said that a slight consideration was given to that argument in the decision to return the soldiers to standard uniforms.




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