Skip to comments.Sikhs challenge US Army's ban on turbans, beards
Posted on 06/14/2009 8:57:35 AM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer
NEW YORK -- Military service is in Capt. Kamaljit Singh Kalsi's blood. But his plans to go on active duty in July are now on hold. An Army policy from the 1980s that regulates the wearing of religious items would mean he would need to shave his beard and remove the turban he wears in accordance with his religious precepts.
Sikhs have a long history with the U.S. military, serving in World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and in the Persian Gulf.
(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...
how many precisely, I have no quibble with Sikhs really but rules are rules...esp in the military
US Army shooting itself in the foot. Sikhs have served with honor defending this country in the past and the Brits seeing how fearsome warriors they make had no problem with their turbans and facial head serving King/Queen and country.
Easy, Kevlar turbans. Will stimulate some additional growth in the armor sector.
The Army can solve this by creating a special unit of Sikhs, thus allowing them to wear their turnans, keep their facial hair, etc.
The uniform is what it is. There are no turbans. You cannot have a beard because your protective gas mask will not seal properly with one. Like it or not, there are good reasons for the rules.
Regulations on facial hair and scalp hair length date from WW I and have nothing to do with prohibitions on religious items. They have to do with ensuring that gas masks make a seal with the skin around the nose and mouth in the matter of the former and in giving lice fewer places to hang out in the latter.
The only thing you get to publically demonstrate in the wearing of the uniform, is that you are an American. This mans head isn’t in the right place.
Sikhs have a long history with the U.S. military,
Ok, then why can’t the modern day ones respect the fact that their predecessors accepted this policy.
Why, we have one military. Why not have one all white or black or women - that is not a solution.
This debate pops up about every ten years. In the past there have been some minor accommodations... very short beards and small turbans. Then the question of where they carry the little curved knife.
Where does it stop? Skullcaps? Those hasidic mutton chops? Cowboy hats? England did it as a way to reinforce to colonial troops that they were most assuredly not British. It wasnt that England was culturally sensitive. They were well aware that if they wore the standard British Army uniform, they would feel equal.
This guy needs to hold being “American” above being a Sihk.
Did you have any problems with all black units during WWII?
Other examples can be readily utilized, as well.
Accordingly, there is no “solution” other than to follow Army regulations.
If you join an organization that wears a UNIFORM by choice, then you wear the uniform... SIMPLE!
LOL...yeah, OK, well I'd take my chances, regardless. This guy's a turd. Drop him in the toilet and move on. Screw 'im. The Army doesn't need Captains this bad.
True. . but they shaved, cut their hair and didn’t wear the diaper on their head.
Then, of course, equal protection and all that, muslims would be able to serve while wearing their long craggy dirty beard as well.
Since when should we accommodate the Sikhs when it comes to the US Armed Forces? Why should we change our rules for a handful of people?
I have no proplem with the turbans,the beards I am not sure of and thats because of the gasmasks
Huh. I was stationed at Redstone Arsenal, AL in 1994, and we had a sergeant major who wore the turban and had the beard. I never thought twice about it. Very cool guy, too.
Were they part of the regular British Army [as distinct from Commonwealth Forces] and were they British citizens?
I know they have a nice history except Indira Ghandi’s murder where they were traitors.
but the Brits allowed a lot of indigs to wear tribal gear because they were colonial and had to deal with that reality.
this guy is an American on American soil, if his custom is more important than the US military then he should find something else to do
all southerners (a huge chunk of combat guys) get to wear butternut grey and plumed felt hats or slouch caps...it’s a tradition ya know?
however given where we are headed here all this may seem quaint in a generation or so
In fact, individuals with full beards are able to obtain a better seal than those who shave, a fact which has been proven time and time again - by the Russians.
Yeah....I'm sold. Especially if the Russians say so. Sorry.....I'd rather buy into the "myth" my drill instructors taught me while in basic.
As of 2005, there are about 230 Hindus, 220 Buddhists, 90 Sikhs and 305 Muslims in the British Armed forces and the appointment of non-Christian chaplains would ‘boost non-Christian recruitment’ and enable British Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Buddhists to find a home in the UK Armed forces, an official said.
Practical reasons override others when it comes to the military.
Here is a quick "schooling" for you on the "Five K's".
The "five K's" they are required to wear are (with description as to why).
1. Kes or unshorn hair, regarded as a symbol of saintliness. Guru Nanak started the practice of keeping the hair unshorn. The keeping of hair in its natural state is regarded as living in harmony with the will of God, and is a symbol of the Khalsa brotherhood and the Sikh faith. Hair is an integral part of the human body created by God and Sikhism call for its preservation. The shaving or cutting of hair is one of the four taboos or Kurehats.
2. Kangha or the comb is necessary to keep the hair clean and tidy. A Sikh must comb his hair twice a day and tie his turban neatly. The Gurus wore turbans and commanded the Sikhs to wear turbans for the protection of the hair, and promotion of social identity and cohesion. It has thus become an essential part of the Sikh dress.
3. Kara or the steel bracelet symbolizes restrain from evil deeds. It is worn on the right wrist and reminds the Sikh of the vows taken by him, that is, he is a servant of the Guru and should not do anything which may bring shame or disgrace. When he looks at the Kara, he is made to think twice before doing anything evil with his hands.
4. Kachh or the soldiers shorts must be worn at all times. It reminds the Sikh of the need for self-restrain over passions and desires. Apart from its moral significance, it ensures briskness during action and freedom of movement at all times. It is a smart dress as compared to the loose dhoti which most Indian wore at that time.
5. Kirpan or the sword is the emblem of courage and self-defense. It symbolizes dignity and self-reliance, the capacity and readiness to always defend the weak and the oppressed. It helps sustain one's martial spirit and the determination to sacrifice oneself in order to defend truth, oppression and Sikh moral values.
They are some of the greatest and bravest warriors around as the British understood quite well-they rank right up there with the Gurkha's. The moral code they live by is very strict and honorable.
Also, after what the Moslems have done to their people in the Punjab over the centuries and especially after India was partitioned in 1947 there is very little love in them for any Moslem.
“Why, we have one military. Why not have one all white or black or women - that is not a solution.” ...... All American First Cavalry Amazon Battalion ........ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahPwlOOKedg
IMO The United States Armed Forces would be well advised to make an exception for Sikhs. Let them wear their turbans and beards and carry their kirpan. Like the Gurkhas and the Maori, there are no finer soldiers on this planet than the Sikhs.
Have a read about this battle: 21 Sikhs against 12,000 muslims at the Battle Of Saragarhi. Fought to the last man and died in battle rather than surrender, just like the Greeks at Thermopylae.
Rules are for the guidance of the wise and the obedience of fools: in this case, the rules should be bent.
> The Army can solve this by creating a special unit of Sikhs, thus allowing them to wear their turnans, keep their facial hair, etc.
Excellent. That would be exactly the thing to do.
Instead of me needing to learn about Sihks, or any religion with a funny hat, it seems like it is more urgent that they study America.
England’s army was trying to reinforce a mentality in it’s colonies, that is the *exact opposite* of what we are trying to reinforce here in the American military.
Bad move to force American soldiers to take orders from a man in a turban, a skullcap, a pope-hat, whatever. If he feels that strongly about it, he simply isnt soldier material for an American Army.
> Since when should we accommodate the Sikhs when it comes to the US Armed Forces? Why should we change our rules for a handful of people?
The Canadian Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have accommodated Sikhs and their needs without difficulty.
The Saragarhi battle was intersting though. Never heard of it. I took a look at your link and intend to read it later so i can give itt the slow thoughtful read it looks to deserve.
Last stands are amazing. Wiki has a list of “last stands”. There were many incredible ones i had never heard of. Wonder if its on that list.
Or the Texans at the Alamo?
Oh, yeah, we could never have even fielded an armed forces without Sikhs I'm sure. How many served? This PC exaggeration got old years ago.
Bend this rule and there will be a long line of individuals from other groups with their list of exceptions they must have. Armed forces are uniform for many valid reasons.
This is a good book on last stands.
> I have no proplem with the turbans,the beards I am not sure of and thats because of the gasmasks
Many Sikhs wear a “hair net thingy” over their beard. It’s made of really fine mesh, almost like what pantyhose is made out of. It holds their beard neat and tight against their faces. Looks quite tidy and sharp, actually.
I really don’t think any of these “issues” would present a real problem with Sikhs being permitted to serve in the armed forces whilst keeping their turbans and beards.
Again, another commonwealth country. I still feel like its the wrong path for the USA to follow a British example. But I could be swayed if there is a compelling reason to think they have earned it by demonstrating absolute loyalty to America. But never just as a multicultural sop to political correctness.
Somehow, they need to learn to hold a Kabar knife, and to feel the same way about it as they do their curved one.
> Or the Texans at the Alamo?
Yeah. Thermopylae was the comparison that (I think) UNESCO used, but yes it would be much like the Texans at the Alamo too.
My thoughts exactly. The British did it why can't we?
Ill check out that book,,, thanks!
I agree. Christians need to put being American ahead of being Christian too...
I'm with you the Sikh worship is strong on these threads, how did the little ol American warriors ever get along before we had somebody in our military wearing turbans to show us what bravery is.