Some of the Freshest Ink at This Year’s ROT Rally Will Be On Soldiers

You’ll see a lot of ink in Austin this weekend – but it may not mean what you think it does.

By Alain StephensJune 11, 2015 9:09 am

If you are going to the Republic of Texas Biker Rally you most likely see two things – motorcycles, and a lot of ink. The rally attracts about 200,000 motorcycle enthusiasts to Austin. And a lot of them have tattoos – or are planning to get some. That could mean big business for tattoo artists. Chris Sparks is with Golden Age Tattoos.

“Yeah man, it’s a race to see who can get covered the quickest and be the coolest,” Sparks says. “I mean it just brings in all types of people it’s just kind of our crowd.”

Members of that crowd include military types – a lot of vets, even some active duty. The military regulates tattoos pretty heavily; at least it used to. But things are changing. Staff Sergeant Jarrell Russell is an army recruiter in El Paso.

“They can have no tattoos on your hands, face, neck, or head. That includes inside the eyelids and inside the lips,” he says. “The previous policy was no more than four.”

Believe it or not – that is actually a more lenient policy than at the last rally—Things like full sleeve tattoos are actually within regulation as long as the tattoos aren’t offensive or show criminal affiliations. Why the change?

The DOD’s millennial recruit pool is more likely to have tattoos. In fact Pew Research shows almost 40% of millennials have tattoos – and a lot of them are techies. All too valuable for cybersecurity.

Ray Sims directs the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at UT San Antonio. He says that the government will have to continue to widen its doors to fill in the skills gap.

“I think the government will do whatever it takes to get the people that they need in this positions. They’ve done it in the past in hiring former hackers and those types of folks who in the past wouldn’t have been qualified for those types of jobs,” Sims says. “The cybersecurity industry has been the great equalizer in the same way the internet has became an equalizer in terms of making it less important what you look like and more important what you said and what your skills were.”

So if you see a tattooed biker at the ROT rally this weekend – remember that outlaw look may just be the perfect cover for a cyber defender.