There are at least four real functions I',ve heard of to the of why the High-and-Tight makes sense and is still used to this day, and probably will be around for quite some time, along with its less moto cousins, the High Regulation and Medium Regulation. Don',t even mention the Low Regulation because wearing one basically makes you no better than the peace loving hippies and a horrible person in general. That said here are the four rationales for the distinctive style of military haircuts. Long beard short hairstyles.
1) A neat short haircut showcased good grooming and health.
Grooming is underappreciated. People don',t understand why it is so important, but the number one killer of men in the field, as it was a thousand years ago, isn',t enemy weaponry, but disease. Disease festers in individuals who don',t hygiene themselves. Furthermore, the disease they create has a potential to spread... exponentially.
A clean haircut doesn',t mean that person is clean, but is a good indication that a person is taking care of themselves. It shows that someone is concerned with maintaining the grooming standards, which is a sign that they are also observing clean standards of living, as well. Seriously, we lived in filth.
2) A neat look inspires confidence in the civilian population.
A look of a well maintained Marine generates confidence in the civilians that look upon them. If you look at someone who works very hard on their look, you feel a sense of respect for that person... in sort of the same way that you sorta', kinda respect a girl who spends hours looking good in the mirror. Yeah, Marines are kind of like teenage girls in their self-obsession with looking clean and nice. Of course, unlike like a preteen girl, they have, you know... muscles and guns and stuff. The vanity does serve a purpose in that it does work for PR if you want people to respect you as more than a barbarian. This is a good trait to have, because the opposite would inspire only disrespect and loathing from the general population.
I mean seriously, examine these two images and consider a moment where you are about to be jumped by people of questionable morals. Who would you really want to be there and have your back?
Long beard short hairstyles
Getting to actual tactics, many troops keep short hair because they believe, rightly so, that it will give them an edge in a fight because their hair couldn',t be used against them. I say rightly so because you can',t grab the hair. Look I agree with the logic, but how often are you getting into fights if this is a going concern? Second, in combat, I can this being one of those manageable risks that, "Hey, why not?" but even then, we wear helmets which makes it not really matter.
Still, it is one reason, people who live in combat situations like to mitigate risk so why have this one around? In a small way, a short haircut does give you that "fighting advantage", but I wouldn',t want to build my personal image around that. This is also the reason most police officers keep the style, as well, though for them, I can actually see that being a good, practical idea. Though in the case of Marines, I don',t know the last time a jihadi ever tried to pull hair. Realistically, the last option makes the most sense.
The others I will freely admit, maybe they are true, maybe they aren',t. This one, though, is a hard fact.
A gas mask needs to be able to create a suctioned seal on your face to lock out gas. A gas mask will not seal for a person with hair all in their face. It just won',t. The hair standard is kept under very strict standards for this one reason, above all others. When you look at the history of military facial hair standards... because your love life is dead... you',ll see that there is moment in time where the epicness of military beards all of a sudden vanished... with a puff of smoke.
Back during the time of the American Civil War, giant beards were a thing. Pictured above is a guy named General Ambrose Everett Burnside. His hair was so awesome it inspired the name sideburns (which are also illegal in today',s military). Early in the 20th century, however, mustard gas was weaponized to devastating effects in Europe. The solution, gained through must have been a morbid trial and error process, was to get rid of almost all hair. The most famous repercussion of this was the advent and adaptation of the "toothbrush" mustache... which oddly disappeared not long after WWII.
The standard, however, has not changed much in that time and if anything is now much stricter. While I would like to agree with others who say that the haircut builds unit cohesion, which it may, or that it helps to reduce individuality in a unit, which it could, in reality, the strict hair standards', purpose is to keep you from dying of neck-breaking spasm onset by airborne nerve agent attack.
Mrs. Davis also told me to add another reason.
Which is probably why I still wear it years after getting out.
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Short hair has it’s origin in germ theory and the first world war.
If you go back in time, before the 20th century, you will find, invariably, that most military deaths were not combat related, they were disease related. Things like Typhus, Cholera and Dysentery took a much bigger toll than any enemy ever did.
But the misnamed War to End All Wars, aka, World War One, happened just as germ theory was happening. And Typhus, spread by lice in close quarters, was a huge problem that killed many, and made many, many more combat ineffective. Boiling uniforms helped, but the best solution was to implement a policy of shaving of face and head, to give the lice no place to live. It prevents the spread of lice which prevents the spread of typhus.
Long beard short hairstyles
That is why Army regulations restricted beards and long hair in the wake of the first world war. And the continue to this day, because in tactical conditions, that will always be a problem, even though we now have a typhus vaccine, there are other diseases spread by critters, and cutting hair keeps the critters down.
As a side note, the chemical protective mask works less well with a beard, so you see limitations on that as well.