The US Army’s Sikh Can of Worms

By Ray Starmann


The latest Category Five Hurricane battering the Army concerns a US Army officer who has demanded to wear long hair, a beard and a turban while on active duty with the lean green machine.

As NBC reports:

In a decision by the U.S. Army Thursday, Capt. Simratpal Singh, a decorated Sikh-American officer and combat veteran, has received a long-term religious accommodation to serve with long hair, a beard, and turban in accordance with his Sikh faith.

In March, a U.S. district judge issues a temporary restraining order against additional non-standard, discriminatory testing. According to The Sikh Coalition, which is representing Singh with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, Singh is the first Sikh American to receive religious accommodation while already actively serving in the U.S. Army.

“My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” Singh said in a statement. “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”

“Captain Singh’s case is a painful study in the onerous hurdles for observant Sikh Americans who want to serve their country,” Amandeep Sidhu, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said in a statement. “With this historic accommodation, we hope that the U.S. military will finally move past protracted, case-by-case religious accommodations and recognize that the time for permanent policy change is now.”

Why do I get the sense that the whole Army is virtually on a profile status right now?

No doubt the officer in question is a good officer and a brave one and apparently qualified. Unfortunately, if the military wanted you to wear a turban on duty, they would have issued you one captain.

Supporters of Captain Singh will retort that the Sikhs have a long tradition of honorable service in the British Army, where they have always been allowed to wear turbans, long hair and beards. The last time I looked around Singh was an officer in the US Army. The British Army has enlisted men serving officers meals, brings their mess china to the field and is virtually solar powered on field exercises, cutting out at 1700 (5 PM) for nocturnal activities. Can’t say I remember seeing anything like that when I was in the US Army.

Have any of the social engineers and JAG buffoons contemplated how the good captain is going to wear his gas mask in a conflict? If memory serves me right, your gas mask won’t seal if you have a beard. Perhaps the thought of doing the Sarin Two Step will force Singh to shave his beard. On the other hand, any commander in the Army ordering Singh to shave will probably face UCMJ action. That’s the twisted, 180 world the military operates in now.

This decision sets a precedent for every person with a religious whim or fancy to demand special treatment. With this decision anyone with a religious or personal demand can come forth and request some kind of accommodation.

Heck, as a Catholic maybe I should’ve demanded fried fish delivered to me every Friday in the field when I was riding to the guns with the 7th Cavalry. It’s a religious accommodation. I’m a Catholic and I want my fried fish, Mac and Cheese and tartar sauce on Friday in the field during Lent. If not, I’m suing Uncle Sam.

I can already picture Muslims in the Army demanding to wear turbans on active duty as well. Muslims on active duty will want to suspend military operations for prayer time.

All gunnery operations at Graf will cease. It’s sundown and we have ten soldiers from the battalion who have to bow down to Mecca.

Roger that on the bowing. We have some OD prayer mats if you need them. They just came in with more breast pumps.

How about Buddhists? Will we be seeing dudes in orange robes walking around military bases? How about a few Buddhist statues on the Headquarters Troop front lawn next to the old WWII 105 gun?

Smoke ’em if you got ’em has become light incense if you got ’em.

The insanity is endless.

As Petula Clark once sang, It’s a Sign of the Times…

The military is catering to people in outrageous ways that seemed unprecedented a generation ago.

The military used to entice people with a MOS choice and an assignment to bring them in. Some grizzled sergeant who had dodged bullets at Dak To would tell a fresh faced recruit that he’d guarantee him an Eleven Bravo slot with a one year tour in South Korea with 2nd ID. But, he couldn’t guarantee the kid that he wouldn’t get the clap.

A different world; a different army; an actual army.

Now you can tattoo your body from toenail to eyeball and if you want to wear long hair and a beard why not, it’s Obama’s Heroes.

Why not, mix and match uniforms? Why even call it the Army or the Marines anymore? Why address sergeants as Sergeant, or Majors as sir or Major so and so?

Combined with all the other social changes, the military is starting to look like a trendy, hipster start up in Portland, rather than the Armed Forces of the US. The military could give itself a cool name like Bullets, no wait, that’s too aggressive. Don’t need any aggression in this gender neutral’s Army. How about Camouflage? I’m working for Camouflage at their Central Texas office space; formerly Fort Hood. We take naps at 1PM and there’s a Nerf Basketball Court in the lunch room. Friday is red high heels day for all the guys, by order of the CG, General Chaos.

I should really stop asking myself what’s next in the military…

What’s next?

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One comment on “The US Army’s Sikh Can of Worms
  1. The statement, “If the army had wanted you to wear a turban on duty, they would have issued you one captain.”
    That may be the answer. To those (Sikh, Muslim, Jewish) soldiers who wish to wear a head covering for religious purposes, maybe the army will offer them that possibility. As long as it does not interfere with their duty. As long as it can fit under a helmet.
    The beard question might be iffier. If it can be kept well groomed, and not very long the army might allow that as well. But, the individual soldier must prove a true religious reason. Not simply because he decides one day it would be cool to wear a beard on duty.
    I don’t know how they would accommodate Rastafarians.

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