Sikhs in US military now allowed to wear turbans | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Sikhs in US military now allowed to wear turbans

chandigarh Updated: Jan 23, 2014 20:21 IST

The US military has reportedly relaxed its uniform rules, allowing Sikh, Muslim, Jewish and Wiccan personnel to request for certain exemptions.

The uniform relaxation would allow personnel from different religions to wear turbans, skullcaps, keep beards and tattoos.

Soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen belonging to the said religions can now request exemptions to strict military uniform and grooming policies, said the BBC reports.

However, the requests would be evaluated individually and could be denied if they hinder military readiness.

Lt Cmdr Nate Christensen said that service members' requests for a religious accommodation would be weighed on a case-by-case basis to ensure they do not impact mission accomplishment, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline.

Requests for keeping beards or wearing special apparel could be turned down if they hinder the safe operation of weapons or military equipment, such as helmets or protective masks.

The report said that as per the change in policy, an accommodation would only apply to the service member's current assignment, requiring him or her to obtain new exemptions with every transfer.

Meanwhile, co-founder of an advocacy group, Sikh Coalition, Amardeep Singh, called the new Pentagon measure "a step forward" but, said that it still represented uncertainty for Sikh Americans, whose religion requires men to wear turbans, beards and long hair.

The US military counts nearly 3,700 Muslims and 1,500 Wiccans among its ranks, and previously, at least three Sikhs had won specific accommodation, the report added.