Religious exemptions for military uniform rules

Recent news.

Basically, it goes into how Sikh US servicemen have more leeway to keep their beards and turbans without running afoul of dress rules.

[ul]
[li]Are they allowed to carry kirpan, and are there any current requirements to carry a knife (not bayonet)?[/li][li]More specifically, the quote: “Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Wiccan soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen can now request exemptions to strict military uniform and grooming policies.” They do not go into anything beyond that. Perhaps yarmulke/kippah. I think they’ve had those allowed for awhile, though. But what Muslim and Wiccan dress/grooming are they referring to? All I can think of is things associated with those religions, but nothing as fundamental to the religion (vs. culture) as the 5 Ks.[/li][/ul]

Muslim hijab?

(BTW: what are the 5 Ks?)

Kesh - uncut long hair
Kangha - small wooden comb
Kara - steel or iron bracelet
Kacchera - piece of undergarment
Kirpan - short dagger

Really orthodox Jewish woman often wear wigs, but I’m having a hard time imagining a situation where a really orthodox Jewish woman would be in the military…

Interesting that Rastafarians are not mentioned. They sometimes get leeway in prisons or schools for their hair, but again, Rastas are not really the sort to join up with the military.

There’s a Pakistani (?) female police chief who nicely illustrates the balancing of uniform with haircovering. She still looks effective and official, but is complying with her culture/religious requirements.

http://samaa.tv/SpotLights/201411616532_samaa_tv.jpg

Thats an Afghani policewoman as the flag suggests.

A Pakistan Airforce female fighter pilot wearing a uniform standard hijab.

Incidentally, it was only about 10 years ago that female officers and enlisted were permitted to wear a hijab as part of the uniform, earlier it was expressly forbidden and my retired army officer Dad still fumes everytime he sees one, something about not having the proper pride.

Re the topic at hand. I don’t think that the issue is the same as what it is compared with; eg India or the UK. In India the Sikh regiments have a long and distinguished combat history and Indian regiments (and British regiments) have long recruited on ethnic and geographical lines, which AFAIK the US Army does not. In such cases, having a bit of “ethnic flair” to the uniform is a good idea. I don’t see how the regulations should be relaxed to accomodate certain individuals and not others.

Lt. Worf always wore that Klingon baldric.

The Phillippine Constabulatory was modeled and overseen by the US Army, and its Moslem recruits were issued fezzes since the standard Smokey the Bear campaign hat would violate their rule against sheilding the eyes. This was 112 years ago.

Let’s just bring back the zouaves.

Nah…that’s not a baldric.

That’s a Baldrick!

One issue with beards is that they are supposed to prevent a proper gas mask seal. I read a story about this recently and in it, a Sikh US Army officer was saying that hey can seal his mask even with a beard.

Muslims consider shielding eyes haram? That surprises me considering they started in such a sunny place.

The US military has been integrated since 1948. We don’t have geographic units (except for the national guard, which is a bit like the Territorial Army), and there is no equivalent to Gurkha regiments and such.

As a Pastafarian I will wear a colander for a hat the next time I’m in my uniform.

:eek: I thought he just won Ms. Klingon!

Globs of Vaseline, as I understand it.

Does the military allow hijab? (It’s less of a political issue here than say, France, but not insignificant). I’m still puzzled of what Wiccans need to wear, even a minor part of the religion, except maybe a pendant or something. But again a lot of these aren’t religious necessities.

Or the next time you join the conflict in the Ukraine.

Hijacking myself, but some more uniform pics from what I am told is Ukraine. Here’s a knight. But also, I think the New California Republic Rangers are involved, and I guess their uniform regs don’t matter as long as the Super Mutants are dead.

Good point. One of my ancestors was in the (British) 42nd Highland Regiment, aka the “Black Watch”. They were historically distinguished by always wearing kilts, even in battle, and marching to the tune of bagpipes. Of course, the regiment mostly recruited bonnie Scots laddies rather than, say, Welshmen, but afaik there were no laws that specifically banned non-Scots from joining. I.e. it was a cultural thing, and the regiment specifically appealed to Scottish pride and customs with recruiters that encouraged one to “Get a feather tae your bonnet, and a kilt aboon your knee. Enlist, bonnie laddie, and come awa’ wi’ me”.

However, this isn’t exactly the same thing because afaik very little of the “Scottish” trappings that we’re talking about were, or are, specifically religious. E.g. I’m not aware of any religion that teaches that wearing (or not wearing) kilts has any bearing on one’s status before God, etc.

I do recall reading that the traditions of the 42nd were supposed to serve as a way to placate the “barbarian” Highlanders and give them a “productive” way of channeling their ferocity in a socially acceptable way. I.e. give them a place where their culture is honored and they will be too busy to have family feuds, raid towns, and ravish bonnie lassies.

Re: In such cases, having a bit of “ethnic flair” to the uniform is a good idea. I don’t see how the regulations should be relaxed to accomodate certain individuals and not others.

Indian soldiers actually mutinied before largely over clothing requirements, and came close to wiping out the British garrison, believe it or not. I’m sure the Brits were happy to make allowances for ‘ethnic flair’ in the uniforms after that.
"The reasons for the mutiny revolved mainly around resentment against changes in the sepoy dress code in November 1805. Hindus were prohibited from wearing religious marks on their foreheads and Muslims were required to shave their beard and trim their moustache. In addition General Sir John Craddock, Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army ordered the wearing of a round hat (resembling that associated with both Europeans and Indian Christians) with a leather cockade in place of the existing turban, a measure which offended both Hindu and Muslim sepoys and went contrary to an earlier warning by a Military Board that sepoy uniform changes should be “given every consideration which a subject of that delicate and important nature required”.[1]

“These apparently minor changes, intended to improve the “soldierly appearance” of the men, created strong resentment among the Indian soldiers. In May 1806 some sepoys who protested the new rules were sent to Fort Saint George (Madras then, now Chennai). Two of them — a Hindu and a Muslim — were given 90 lashes each and dismissed from the army. Nineteen sepoys were punished with 50 lashes each and forced to seek pardon from the East India Company.[2][3]”

ISTR that the Orthodox Jewish chaplain at one of my duty stations simply wore his yarmulke under his Navy-issued service cap; if he wore his garrison cap, he just changed to his yarmulke indoors. The law says you have to have your head covered; it doesn’t specify with what. Since he couldn’t wear his Navy-issued cap indoors, he wore a yarmulke. Outdoors, the hat was sufficient.

We’re are here to fight ignorance, not spread it. The two latter photographs are of New Vegas rangers, not NRC.

You sure of that? They were called the Desert Rangers, but got absorbed by the NCR, hence those giant statues shaking hands. Or even if they still exist, they’re a subset.

I’m sure they have exemptions for tribal recruits having bone noses and such.