The U.S. Army and the Turban

Kalsi and Rattan

Sikhs Now: Kamaldeep Kalsi (L) and Tejdeep Rattan (R)

Two Sikh recruits in the U.S. Army, Kamaljeet Singh and Tejdeep Singh, were told they would be allowed to continue to wear their turbans as active members of the military.  They describe this as being able to wear both their uniforms: that of a Sikh, and of a member of our Armed Forces. Now Army personnel have back-pedaled, claiming a 1981 ban prohibits soldiers from wearing “overt” articles of faith — including the dastar.

Despite a long history of Sikh participation in armed forces worldwide, Steve Levine, a former Army lawyer from 1992-1999, speculates that there are at least two policy reasons for requiring shorn hair: unit cohesion, and the ability to wear military equipment [link]. This seems incongruous given that Sikhs had served on active duty in the Army with full daris and dastars, and were perfectly well-protected, in the past. In light of previous exemptions, lawyers for these Sikhs argue the policy is an undue burden on the free excercise of faith under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

Sikhs Then: Bhagat Singh Thind

Previous case law under this ban seems pretty appalling: In 1986 the Supreme Court held that the Army could ban a Jewish psychiatrist from wearing a yarmulke. In response, Congress passed legislation allowing room for “neat and conservative” religious items, so long as those items didn’t conflict with military duties [link].

This ban seems to echo France’s much more recent ban on articles of faith, and many of the policy talking points are equally hollow and meritless.  To support the rights of these men to practice their faith freely and serve their country, please sign a petition of support and share this information with your friends, family and colleagues.


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


10 Responses to “The U.S. Army and the Turban”

  1. MachineGunner says:

    Die in battle, yes… Die walking around with the gasmask on and because of your beard a leak kills you. Which leads to one less person in a firesquad, Unacceptable. Now your a Dr. a VALUABLE assest in a wartime enviorment… Dr. dies from exposure to chemical gasses, now that will take away neccesarry treatment from other Soldiers/Marines/Civillians that is a no-go. This is the modern age and with the ever growing threat of Chemical warfare i would NEVER want a Soldier to have a beard in the U.S. Military, to prevent Leaks in the gasmask the beard must be shaved. Myself as a Sikh and a proud American for the time being i have no hair for my job requires me to go to the frontlines often… But there is no reason why they wouldn't want to keep there hair after the military if they fight so hard to keep it while there in.

    Fateh!

    Machinegunner

  2. MachineGunner says:

    Die in battle, yes… Die walking around with the gasmask on and because of your beard a leak kills you. Which leads to one less person in a firesquad, Unacceptable. Now your a Dr. a VALUABLE assest in a wartime enviorment… Dr. dies from exposure to chemical gasses, now that will take away neccesarry treatment from other Soldiers/Marines/Civillians that is a no-go. This is the modern age and with the ever growing threat of Chemical warfare i would NEVER want a Soldier to have a beard in the U.S. Military, to prevent Leaks in the gasmask the beard must be shaved. Myself as a Sikh and a proud American for the time being i have no hair for my job requires me to go to the frontlines often… But there is no reason why they wouldn’t want to keep there hair after the military if they fight so hard to keep it while there in.

    Fateh!

    Machinegunner

  3. RAJINDER SINGH says:

    I think you are propogating a myth.

    Refer instructions on wearing a gas mask (Item #4). Please copy and paste the address in your browser.

    http://www.josephprep.com/BioChemical/Gas_Masks_I

    Never undersestimate a rag-tag army.

    Good Luck.

  4. RAJINDER SINGH says:

    I think you are propogating a myth.

    Refer instructions on wearing a gas mask (Item #4). Please copy and paste the address in your browser.

    http://www.josephprep.com/BioChemical/Gas_Masks_Israeli_Standard/instructions.htm

    Never undersestimate a rag-tag army.

    Good Luck.

  5. […] Last week, many in US Sikhdom celebrated the triumphs of Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan and Dr. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi. For why you may ask? See previous coverage. […]

  6. Riva says:

    there are portable wine coolers which also fit in a small office space. i use them in my home office**