WASHINGTON DC, USA—The incumbent US Senator, Tim Kaine, has advised the US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to avoida policy that hinders US Sikhs from being recruited into the US armed forces due to their religious symbols.
In a letter to Mr Carter, the Senator said “Under current Department of Defense (DoD) policy, implemented in 1988, members of the Sikh faith are unable to serve in the military unless they abandon their articles of faith-namely maintaining unshorn hair, beards, and wearing a turban.”
He added, “While I appreciate the importance of military protocol and understand the importance of unit cohesion, I do not believe that any American should have to choose between his or her religion and service to country.”
“By disallowing members of the Sikh faith the ability to fully practice their religion while serving, the military denies itself access to the important talents and abilities of these individuals who are willing to fight and die for our nation,” he said.
He further asked that the policy be rescinded.
The inclusion of Canada’s open policy towards Sikhs in the armed forces became an example to the Americans, after the coalition benefited immeasurably from the intelligence of Sikh Officer Harjit Singh Sajjan, the current Defense Minister of Canada, in the campaign in Afghanistan.
Harjit Singh’s skills in intelligence gathering led to him being an attaché to a US General, and allowed for the single largest defeat and capture of Taliban forces in the renowned offensive, Operation Medusa.