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Thread: Sikhs and U.S. Army Standards for Uniform and Appearance

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    Council Member Wargames Mark's Avatar
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    Default Sikhs and U.S. Army Standards for Uniform and Appearance

    Story on Sikhs in the Army: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?s...&article=65625

    My own thinking is that while it is great that these men want to help with the fight, there is a standard for appearance and it should be enforced - even if that means that some people will not serve.
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The German standard for soldier appearance is that soldiers are allowed to have beards, if they just care properly for these beards (no wild growth). I'm not aware of any domestic troubles with this in the past two decades.

    About the Sikh + Helmet problem;afaik the Sikhs are getting a special helmet (or are campaigning for it) in the Indian forces. Historical depictions of Sikh leaders show that it's apparently OK to have the turban around the helmet (or hints of a turban).


    A standard is fine, but if new troubles arise it's also OK to revise a standard to adapt.


    I personally despise the existence of waivers. A rule/standard is either universally good or it's simply bad.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Ask others now?

    Before the US Army and others make policy they should ask the Canadians, Indians and the British how they have coped with Sikhs? In fact was there not a picture of a Swedish-Sikh soldier not on SWC recently, with his turban?

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Before the US Army and others make policy they should ask the Canadians, Indians and the British how they have coped with Sikhs? In fact was there not a picture of a Swedish-Sikh soldier not on SWC recently, with his turban?

    davidbfpo
    W.E. Fairbairn of the SMP (Shanghai Municipal Police) had Sikhs on the Police Force and they were allowed to wear their turbans as part of their official uniform.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Been my observation

    Quote Originally Posted by Wargames Mark View Post
    ...there is a standard for appearance and it should be enforced - even if that means that some people will not serve.
    that appearance has little or nothing to do with combat capability -- or performance. I'd rather go to war with 10 motivated rag bags than 50 uniform and well turned out mediocrities.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Re: Ken's comment above. There is a quote regarding Confederate troops to the effect that never had so much been accomplished by so many so disheveled. That would probably hold for all the armies on both sides except for maybe the Army of the Potomac. They were a bit neater I believe.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Mindless uniformity is stupid.

    Besides, it's not as if he was growing a beard to flout the rules or express his individuality --- if anything, it's his way of demonstrating exactly the opposite.

    As long as it can be adopted for the field, who cares.


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    General rules are useful, but so are exceptions. The Sikhs are a really special case. What they ask for in terms of special treatment is a very visible but purely symbolic concession and once that concession is made, they have a history of very distinguished service. Its not a slippery slope to shariah law or something like that. I dont know if there are enough Sikhs in the US to justify this, but if enough are wanting to join, then the US army would be foolish to keep them out due to some misplaced insistence on general rules.....

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I've known two Sikhs in the US Army

    Both wore their Dastaar, Kirpan and Kara in uniform. The one in Viet Nam simply put his steel helmet with no liner over his Dastaar. I didn't check their underwear. Both were good folks and one was an MI Warrant.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    The Chinese army has no problem with turbans. About half way through you will see an Indian Army officer running the Obstacle Course.....part of a larger Chinese Military Cooperation program with India.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnWvTGX-eps

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default PRC, Pakistan & India triangle

    Slap,

    Thanks for the clip. I was not aware that there was Sino-Indian military co-operation. I do wonder how the Pakistani Army reacted to this, after their long co-operation and a treaty IIRC.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Slap,

    Thanks for the clip. I was not aware that there was Sino-Indian military co-operation. I do wonder how the Pakistani Army reacted to this, after their long co-operation and a treaty IIRC.

    davidbfpo
    I didn't know either, reminded me of Mackinder's theory of Geo-Politcs....the rise of the Eurasia Continent.

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Sikhs in the British Army wear their turbans, as I belive they do in the British Police Services. We have not had an issue with it. They look very smart, come from what is regarded to be a martial caste (rather fight with them then against them) and the combination of turban and hair provides a degree of ballistic protection.

    The prohibition of beards in the UK Army and Air Force (they are allowed in the Navy) is based on the requirement to wear respirators. My understanding is that Sikhs have a dispensation that gives them the ability to shave their beard if the alternative is a mouthful of nerve agent due to the beard causing a broken seal.
    In the good old days it was forbidden for army officers not to have mustaches - my how things have changed!

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    I am not personally against allowing the Sikh's being allowed to wear their turbans as a general rule. As an SF guy, uniformity is not particularly important to me . The problem I do see, however, is not that a few Sikhs may be allowed to wear their turbans but that there would immediately be huge numbers of others clambering for their right to wear this that or the other thing. If the Army were to open this box a little then you can all but guarantee that the courts will open it a whole lot more.

    SFC W

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    Default First Sikh soldiers go on parade to guard the Queen

    They look pretty sharp to me. Sorry but I couldn't insert the pics directly into this post.
    Article with pics

    They are not quite what the tourists might expect when they come looking for a snapshot of a Buckingham Palace guard. There's not a red coat or a bearskin in sight - but there are two immaculately wrapped turbans in fetching shades of blue. Because they are changing the guard at Buckingham Palace. And Signaller Simranjit Singh and Lance Corporal Sarvjit Singh are it - the first Sikh soldiers to guard the Queen.

    There has been a long tradition of Sikhs serving in or with the British Army, but not until now has a Sikh soldier been among those charged with the responsibility of guarding the queen at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

    The honour of being the first Sikh to take up the prestigious role fell to Signaller Singh, 'Sim' to his colleagues, earlier this summer.
    The 27-year-old is serving with the 21 Signal Regiment, normally based in Colerne, Wiltshire, but is at the end of a summer 'tour' of London.

    Mounting guard duty is normally carried out by the Guards of Household Division in their distinctive scarlet tunics and bear skin caps, but when the Guards units are busy with operational duties other regiments step in.
    Which is how Signaller Singh found himself leaving his normal duties at the headquatrters' motor transport department looking after vehicles and radio equipment....

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Umm, So

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    As an SF guy, uniformity is not particularly important to me .
    it's not particularly important but it is a little important???

    I hate to sound like the 57th Messkit Repair Group (Modular, Transformative) (Separate) (Theter Support) CSM but I think being fairly uniform is like being a little pregnant.

    However, as a non-uniform guy -- I've always advocated a real combat uniform * and a blazer for non-field wear, polo shirt in summer (I'm also opposed to Barracks and mess halls or fining dacilities) ... and I digress -- but realizing uniforms aren't going away, why not keep the uniform sacrosanct and get rid of that black beanie and let any headgear expression of religiosity or personal beliefs pretty much slide?

    * ACU is good, design and cut wise -- except the chest pockets should have been slanted outboard. Camouflage pattern wise, it's a disaster.

    Actually you're right on the courts and where do we stop but I haven't picked on you in months...

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    the 57th Messkit Repair Group (Modular, Transformative) (Separate) (Theter Support) CSM
    I think that guy was in charge of the dining facility entry control point at COB Speicher when I was there during OIF V. It was easier to get a foreign national into division HQ than to get a mildly dirty uniform into the dining facility (God forbid they didn't have their reflective belt).

    SFC W

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    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    -- but realizing uniforms aren't going away, why not keep the uniform sacrosanct and get rid of that black beanie and let any headgear expression of religiosity or personal beliefs pretty much slide?
    I've been confused by the requirement of headgear for some time. It strikes me as a hold-over from the times when guys wore fedoras whenever they left the house. If we're going to arbitrarily force everyone to wear a certain clothing item, why hats? Why not spats, or webbed belts?
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
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    Uniformity in dress leads to uniformity in thought. For regular, conventional units, this is a trait line units strive to achieve. In a high intensity fight, it might be a good skill.

    Unfortunately, regular wars are hard to come by. In messy, politically complex wars, like Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, uniformity is a bad thing. Fortunately, special forces guys realize how little uniformity matters. (Regular line units learn it to, at least the guys fighting the war. Most CSM at BDE and higher will never learn it.)

    (On a note sure to start a fight, only the US Army can be in a war and short soldiers and exclude them for silly reasons. For example, excluding Sikhs for head gear and oh, excluding Arabic interpreters for sexual preference.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
    (On a note sure to start a fight, only the US Army can be in a war and short soldiers and exclude them for silly reasons. For example, excluding Sikhs for head gear and oh, excluding Arabic interpreters for sexual preference.)
    Actually, we've been down that road already.

    I would be less surprised if you drew flak for the rest of your post.

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