Leaked Air Force Memo: Bigger Mustaches Are Coming

The Air Force mustache you a question—Are you ready for longer, more fulsome mustaches?

That’s according to a draft of a new memo posted to social media this week, revealing that the Air Force is on the verge of allowing men to grow their mustaches up to a quarter of an inch out from the corners of the mouth.

The memo, posted on the popular unofficial Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco, is signed by assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services Gwendolyn R. DeFilippi. 

An accompanying email suggested the change would go into effect May 20—an Air Force spokeswoman confirmed to Air Force Magazine that the memo is an “internal, working draft” that is subject to change, and as of May 20, no formal changes have been announced.

According to the memo, mustaches will not be allowed to extend below the lip line of the upper lip, cannot extend beyond a horizontal line extending from the corners of the mouth, and must stay within vertical lines 1/4 of an inch from the corners of the mouth. An accompanying image shows the specifications.

The previous rules called for mustaches to “not extend downward beyond the lip line of the upper lip or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from both corners of the mouth.”

Mustaches and the Air Force have a deep history, thanks in large part to Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, one of the service’s most celebrated fighter pilots who grew quite the luxurious mustache that was against regulations at the time.

Airmen often honor Olds during “Mustache March,” growing ’staches in his memory. 

On top of that, one of Olds’ vice commanders in Vietnam was then-Col. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., who would go on to become the first Black four-star general in U.S. military history—and who also sported a mustache of his own.

The move to loosen regulations around facial hair comes on the heels of several other changes the Air Force has made to grooming standards in the past few years, allowing male and female Airmen to grow their hair out longer, permitting women to wear braids and ponytails, granting longer shaving waivers for men, and making it easier to obtain those waivers.

Despite this, leaders have remained firm in resisting calls from many Airmen to allow full beards.

A leaked memo showing the proposed new standards for Airmen’s mustaches. Facebook/Air Force amn/nco/snco