“As with all social trends and fashions, the beard has ebbed and flowed in popularity and today it seems to be making a comeback across the board. But for military and tactical operators and enthusiasts, the full beard has become a powerful symbol of the toughness and endurance as exemplified by special operators in today’s conflict zones. Across the regions of the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe, forward operators have come to live, work and fight in direct contact with communities in which beards are highly respected. Adopting full beards has proven a key component to establishing trusting relationships with local populations and their leaders, and in some cases it is a critical component to blending in with the locals and maintaining a low profile. Special operators and combat troops have long enjoyed a bit more flexibility in facial hair maintenance when actively in the field and engaged in operations, but there is now a growing military and civilian subculture that reveres the beard and acknowledges the prowess of those who display it with pride, and who have the experience to back it.
“Not to be confused with the “hipster” scene where sideburns, handle-bar mustaches, pseudo-rugged goatees and stylish 5 o’clock shadows have become increasingly popular, the tactical beard community has grown rapidly and has spawned community groups like the private Facebook group, the Tactical Beard Owners Club, which now boasts almost 11,000 fans on itsFacebook fan page as well as over 1,600 verified members with chapters in various locations around the world. Originally established as a community to provide networking and support for current military operators as well as veterans, this group provides a powerful resource in maintaining morale and connectivity for soldiers and tactical professionals, both in fields abroad and at home. This brotherhood of the tactically-bearded reflects the camaraderie and respect that both military and civilian operators develop in their communities, and the proud display of a fully nurtured beard has become a badge of honor among those who truly deserve that honor as well as a sign of respect and recognition among those who value the commitment of those operators.”
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