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Posted: 6/14/2009 12:51:07 PM EST


FoxNews:

Sikhs Challenge U.S. Army's Ban on Turbans, Beards

Sunday , June 14, 2009




NEW YORK —Military service is in Capt. Kamaljit Singh Kalsi's blood.

His father and grandfather were part of India's Air Force. His great-grandfather served in the army in India under the British. So when U.S. Army recruiters talked to him during his first year of medical school, he readily signed up.

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.

Kalsi and another Sikh man with the same concerns, Second Lt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan, are the centerpieces of an advocacy campaign launched by the Sikh Coalition as it tries to persuade the Army to let them serve without sacrificing their articles of faith.

"I'm an American, there's no reason why I can't serve," Kalsi, 32, said.

The Army has a long-standing interest in how its members carry themselves, with policies that ban exotic hair colors, long fingernails or certain colors of lipstick. Army officials declined to comment on the reasoning behind its policy that would force the Sikh men to give up their religious displays. Sikhs who were active-duty military when the policy was adopted were allowed to continue serving without shaving their beards or removing their turbans.

The Pentagon and other military institutions wouldn't comment. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, was unfamiliar with the policy's origins.

As the Sikh diaspora has spread across the world, the issue of turbans and beards on Sikhs in uniform has come up in a number of places. In New York City, for example, Sikh traffic officers took successful legal action to force the city to allow them to wear turbans and beards.

The Sikh community is hopeful it will win the policy appeal; in an April 29 letter to the Sikh Coalition, the director of the Army's Human Resources Policy Directorate said senior leadership was aware of the issue and was gathering information to make a decision. Toni Delancey, a spokeswoman for Army personnel, said the appeals are under review.

Sikh Coalition executive director Amardeep Singh said he hopes that not only are Kalsi and Rattan allowed to serve, but that the rule will be changed for all turbaned and bearded Sikhs who would want to enlist.

"Our country's military needs to reflect what America is right now," he said. "It's a diverse country, it's a country that puts forth for the rest of the world the values of liberty, particularly religious liberty."

Allowing Sikhs to serve with beard and turban "will send a very strong message to the rest of the world that we are who we say we are."

The Sikh faith requires adherents to follow certain rules, among them that hair is not to be cut and for men, the wearing of a turban. Both Kalsi, an emergency room doctor, and Rattan, a dental surgeon, say they were following those rules when they were recruited and never had any problems or were told they wouldn't be able to serve with their beards or turbans.

Both said they raised the issue over the years and were reassured, and that it wasn't until the end of last year when they were told they would not be allowed to serve as they were.

The idea that he would have to choose between his country and his faith is hard for Rattan. "I'm offering my life, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my religious beliefs," he said.

Singh said it would be in the military's best interest to lets Sikhs serve. The community has a long tradition of military service, both in India, where most of the faith's adherents are, as well as in the countries where Sikhs have made their homes, like Canada and the United Kingdom.

"As part of our religious heritage, we're taught that we have an obligation to actively serve and protect the communities in which we live," he said.

In Canada, regulations for the armed forces allow Sikhs to keep their turbans and beards, and even determine what colors the different military branches can wear. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police allows turbans as well.

The British Army allows Sikhs to generally keep their articles of faith. For Sikhs who serve as civilian police officers, The British Police Sikh Association is pushing for development of bulletproof turbans. That would allow Sikhs to be part of firearms units, since safety helmets don't fit over them.

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.

One of them is Army Col. Gopal Khalsa, who is retiring in November after more than three decades in uniform, all of those with a turban and beard.

His distinctive appearance has required some conversation and explanation at times, but it's never been a problem for him, or gotten in the way of carrying out his duties or wearing his military equipment.

"Of course there's a lot of looks, but once people get to know you and you're doing the job, that falls by the wayside," Khalsa said.

He thought a rule change would be a good idea, saying the presence of Sikh soldiers would be an asset in places where the United States is currently carrying out military operations, like Afghanistan.

"The Army would be gaining successful, useful soldiers," he said.

Kalsi hopes he can be one of those soldiers, and serve his country as generations of his family have done.

"That's what we connect with, that's part of our heritage," he said. "It links us to our past and our present and hopefully the future."



Not quite sure how I feel about this... I welcome their service, but there are reasons for our uniform standards. Helmets don't fit too well over turbans, and field protective masks don't work too well over beards.





Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:53:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/14/2009 12:55:59 PM EST by Primos]
Nah nevermind, I really don't care.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:53:47 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/14/2009 12:54:13 PM EST by FieroLoki]
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:54:24 PM EST
There is one were I work.

They are the warrior class, right?
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:55:05 PM EST
Originally Posted By Primos:
Fuck em. Fit the standard or don't join.


this
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:55:24 PM EST

Last time I checked military service in the U.S. was still voluntary. Thems is the rules. A lot of the structure goes out the window when we start making exceptions to the rule for people who volunteered.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:56:04 PM EST
Aren't the Sikhs some bad ass mofo's???
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:57:32 PM EST
They should let them wear beards. The gas chamber will get a lot more fucking funny.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:57:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By pv74:
Aren't the Sikhs some bad ass mofo's???

I believe they are the 'Klingons' of the Indian caste system.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:57:43 PM EST
"bulletproof turbans"

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 12:58:24 PM EST
i say if their beliefs are worth the added risk, then let them.


and i extend that belief to everyone.

you should be able to sign a waiver and have a beard if you want one, fuck it being just the high speed doorkickers in the sandbox


got those stupid standards here at home, too.

my company doesn't enforce it across the board though, only on certain employees in certain situations.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:00:31 PM EST
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:01:16 PM EST
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:01:40 PM EST
Originally Posted By Zack3g:
i say if their beliefs are worth the added risk, then let them.


and i extend that belief to everyone.

you should be able to sign a waiver and have a beard if you want one, fuck it being just the high speed doorkickers in the sandbox


got those stupid standards here at home, too.

my company doesn't enforce it across the board though, only on certain employees in certain situations.


You could make the argument that it hurts the combat effectiveness of the unit, and puts other people at risk.

Although in all honesty, I think the military should be REQUIRING deployed troops to grow beards so they fit in better. I think we've proven that the NBC risk isn't high.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:03:43 PM EST
When I was in, and before I went to get my Jump Wing, there was an article in the Base Newspaper about this Sikh who was, I think, a Track Chaparral mechanic. If you look up the Chaparral the Missile, he was one of the guys that worked on the carrier and wasn’t involved in launching the missile.

I don’t recall much of the article – circa 1977 – except that he had to keep his hair and beard reasonably neat and trimmed.

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:04:23 PM EST
Originally Posted By Justice23:
Originally Posted By Primos:
Fuck em. Fit the standard or don't join.


this



Next we'll have Marpat Burkhas. You joined the Army, the Army didn't join you. Conform or GTF out.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:11:07 PM EST
This already was challenged in the late '70s IIRC. I believe a court upheld Army regs for personal grooming standards. I was 12 or 13 at the time, so my memory may be failing me.

As others have said, fuck these people. They may be a "warrior" class in south asia, but if they can't shave their fucking beards and cut their fucking hair for the privilege of wearing our uniform, they can go drive a bus in some city that doesn't give a shit.

They're in our country. Our rules outweigh their cutural heritage. We're not a Hindu nation with Hindu values. I appreciate that they want to serve, but serving in the military isn't a "right".
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:13:29 PM EST
Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair


lol good idea. They'll figure it out
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:14:56 PM EST
Fuck them... Its not their RIGHT to serve in the armed forces. This is the same argument I make against gays in the military.

The Military wants masses of like minded people. So even if they are missing out on ONE excellent serviceman by not changing the standards, they will get 10 decent ones that will meet the standard.

In the military, there is no room for individuals.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:17:08 PM EST
Meh, I say let them serve. I'm sure they can trim the beard a bit and have a top knot under their cover.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:20:39 PM EST
Reminds me of the "bitches" that would go on sick-call and get a shaving profile.

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:21:13 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/14/2009 1:23:15 PM EST by Labomatic]
Originally Posted By capnrob97:

Originally Posted By pv74:
Aren't the Sikhs some bad ass mofo's???

I believe they are the 'Klingons' of the Indian caste system.


thier knives cannot be sheathed until bloodied..

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:23:03 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/14/2009 1:23:50 PM EST by Tim_the_enchanter]
Originally Posted By Cav-Gunner:
Reminds me of the "bitches" that would go on sick-call and get a shaving profile.




Bitches should not be shaving.


edit,

Legs pits and pelt excepted.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:23:21 PM EST

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair

Bet a sihk (without a mask) will last longer in there than you (with a mask)...
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:26:49 PM EST

Originally Posted By Stlrain0341:
Originally Posted By Zack3g:
i say if their beliefs are worth the added risk, then let them.


and i extend that belief to everyone.

you should be able to sign a waiver and have a beard if you want one, fuck it being just the high speed doorkickers in the sandbox


got those stupid standards here at home, too.

my company doesn't enforce it across the board though, only on certain employees in certain situations.


You could make the argument that it hurts the combat effectiveness of the unit, and puts other people at risk.

Although in all honesty, I think the military should be REQUIRING deployed troops to grow beards so they fit in better. I think we've proven that the NBC risk isn't high.

Not a high risk of NBC...


If people are comfortable, they perform better. These guys want their beards... It is part of their culture. If they want a beard, let them wear it.


One minute we whine because we lack recruits... Wonder why?
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:27:15 PM EST
Originally Posted By Silence:

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair

Bet a sihk (without a mask) will last longer in there than you (with a mask)...



Ha, I remember my first time in the chamber felt like going down to the basement after a few hours of mom cooking. The others were having a much harder time...
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:27:27 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/14/2009 1:34:28 PM EST by marksman121]
Originally Posted By Silence:

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair


Bet a sihk (without a mask) will last longer in there than you (with a mask)...



So that beard could filter out Chemical or bio weapons too?
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:28:10 PM EST
Originally Posted By Stlrain0341:
Originally Posted By Zack3g:
i say if their beliefs are worth the added risk, then let them.


and i extend that belief to everyone.

you should be able to sign a waiver and have a beard if you want one, fuck it being just the high speed doorkickers in the sandbox


got those stupid standards here at home, too.

my company doesn't enforce it across the board though, only on certain employees in certain situations.


You could make the argument that it hurts the combat effectiveness of the unit, and puts other people at risk.

Although in all honesty, I think the military should be REQUIRING deployed troops to grow beards so they fit in better. I think we've proven that the NBC risk isn't high.


+1...When did our military appearance standards commence? WWI? IIRC, it was to control lice.

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:30:08 PM EST

Originally Posted By Silence:

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair

Bet a sihk (without a mask) will last longer in there than you (with a mask)...


having been in the CS chamber, I will gladly take that bet.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:30:45 PM EST
Originally Posted By Silence:

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair

Bet a sihk (without a mask) will last longer in there than you (with a mask)...


I'll take that bet.... Or are you addressing FieroLoki specifically?
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:32:07 PM EST
Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair


If a sikh can figure out how do make a pro-mask seal with a beard he's welcome to keep it. Until then, you will follow grooming standards so that you aren't a liability in the sandbox.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:38:54 PM EST
Originally Posted By VelociMorte:
"bulletproof turbans"



yes they do make them
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:39:50 PM EST


Po-lice that moo-stash!
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:48:06 PM EST
Originally Posted By Silence:

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair

Bet a sihk (without a mask) will last longer in there than you (with a mask)...


And your point being what exactly?
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:51:27 PM EST
Originally Posted By SV650Squid:
Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair


If a sikh can figure out how do make a pro-mask seal with a beard he's welcome to keep it. Until then, you will follow grooming standards so that you aren't a liability in the sandbox.



So I guessing the Indian army doesn't do any NBC training at all? Sikh firemen in India must not wear respirators either.....
It wasn't that long ago that facial hair was OK in US armed forces IIRC.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 1:53:00 PM EST
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:00:51 PM EST




What is wrong with facial hair in the military? Cause I heard these guys were supposedly pretty good.


Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:01:49 PM EST
Originally Posted By USMCTanker:
This already was challenged in the late '70s IIRC. I believe a court upheld Army regs for personal grooming standards. I was 12 or 13 at the time, so my memory may be failing me.

As others have said, fuck these people. They may be a "warrior" class in south asia, but if they can't shave their fucking beards and cut their fucking hair for the privilege of wearing our uniform, they can go drive a bus in some city that doesn't give a shit.

They're in our country. Our rules outweigh their cutural heritage. We're not a Hindu nation with Hindu values. I appreciate that they want to serve, but serving in the military isn't a "right".


They are not fucking Hindu.

Sikhs are bad ass. They grew out their hair and beards to scare the shit out of the Muslims they were fighting. They used to be required to carry a dagger at all times. Knee jerk "scary man with a knife" reactions has limited that now.
While I don't think the military should be forced to conform to the Sikh religion, I (and you too even if you don't know it) would be glad to have one by my side on the battlefield. The ones I know are some of the hardest workers I have ever met.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:01:56 PM EST
I think the Court has already upheld the military's dress code.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:02:51 PM EST
They will lose in court.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:05:40 PM EST
Originally Posted By Steve_in_Washington:
http://i42.tinypic.com/kw4tt.jpg
http://i14.tinypic.com/42iui5j.jpg
http://i41.tinypic.com/beintx.jpg

What is wrong with facial hair in the military? Cause I heard these guys were supposedly pretty good.




And what was the risk of an NBC environment back then?

The lack of facial hair outside a mustache within regs isn't a DOD policy because someone didn't like facial hair.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:06:52 PM EST
Originally Posted By clivus:
Originally Posted By USMCTanker:
This already was challenged in the late '70s IIRC. I believe a court upheld Army regs for personal grooming standards. I was 12 or 13 at the time, so my memory may be failing me.

As others have said, fuck these people. They may be a "warrior" class in south asia, but if they can't shave their fucking beards and cut their fucking hair for the privilege of wearing our uniform, they can go drive a bus in some city that doesn't give a shit.

They're in our country. Our rules outweigh their cutural heritage. We're not a Hindu nation with Hindu values. I appreciate that they want to serve, but serving in the military isn't a "right".


They are not fucking Hindu.

Sikhs are bad ass. They grew out their hair and beards to scare the shit out of the Muslims they were fighting. They used to be required to carry a dagger at all times. Knee jerk "scary man with a knife" reactions has limited that now.
While I don't think the military should be forced to conform to the Sikh religion, I (and you too even if you don't know it) would be glad to have one by my side on the battlefield. The ones I know are some of the hardest workers I have ever met.


QFT. Although I believe their beards were grown to not cut the creation that God has seen fit to give them.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:11:13 PM EST
Fuck 'em.

They knew the rules when they signed up. No beards, no turbans. You're in the US military, not some religious militia.


Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:11:44 PM EST
I guess it depends on what unit your in as there doesn't seem to be a problem with these guys having beards and waring turbans





Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:14:04 PM EST
No















.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:15:08 PM EST
The British & Indian Army have no problems with Sikhs wearing their articles of faith in combatlinky

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:15:52 PM EST
Originally Posted By jarlragnar:
Originally Posted By clivus:
Originally Posted By USMCTanker:
This already was challenged in the late '70s IIRC. I believe a court upheld Army regs for personal grooming standards. I was 12 or 13 at the time, so my memory may be failing me.

As others have said, fuck these people. They may be a "warrior" class in south asia, but if they can't shave their fucking beards and cut their fucking hair for the privilege of wearing our uniform, they can go drive a bus in some city that doesn't give a shit.

They're in our country. Our rules outweigh their cutural heritage. We're not a Hindu nation with Hindu values. I appreciate that they want to serve, but serving in the military isn't a "right".


They are not fucking Hindu.

Sikhs are bad ass. They grew out their hair and beards to scare the shit out of the Muslims they were fighting. They used to be required to carry a dagger at all times. Knee jerk "scary man with a knife" reactions has limited that now.
While I don't think the military should be forced to conform to the Sikh religion, I (and you too even if you don't know it) would be glad to have one by my side on the battlefield. The ones I know are some of the hardest workers I have ever met.


QFT. Although I believe their beards were grown to not cut the creation that God has seen fit to give them.


A little poetic license, but I think the end outcome scared people. You should see them with their hair down. Those beards have been tied up as well. I'm talking ZZ Top size beards.

And to comment on the part I've marked in red above: The ones I know don't drive busses. They're your doctors when you go to the VA. Take that, xenophobe!
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:16:24 PM EST

Originally Posted By Old_Painless:
Originally Posted By Silence:

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Stick there ass in the gas chamber with a mask and there beard. And tell them, we will do this till it no longer effects you or you cut your damn hair

Bet a sihk (without a mask) will last longer in there than you (with a mask)...


Spoken like a man that hasn't ever been in a gas chamber, or tried to get a mask to seal.


Ifn yous says so, ifn yous says so, old man...

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:16:50 PM EST
Its a volunteer force, if you don't like the rules don't join. I really don't give a rats ass about your culture or heritage or what the UK or Indian army allows, you aren't joining there armed forces, your joining ours, if you don't like it GTFO
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:20:55 PM EST
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 2:20:58 PM EST
Originally Posted By Labomatic:
Originally Posted By capnrob97:

Originally Posted By pv74:
Aren't the Sikhs some bad ass mofo's???

I believe they are the 'Klingons' of the Indian caste system.


thier knives cannot be sheathed until bloodied..



You're thinking of Gurkhas

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