The U.S. Army has recently taken bold new steps to accommodate Muslims, Sikhs, and other religious minorities. These actions will make it much easier for them to get approval to dress and groom themselves in accordance with their religious customs while in the military, an Army spokesman announced December 5th.
Indeed, Army Secretary Eric Fanning signed a memorandum last week revising the uniform policy in order to allow those in the aforementioned minority groups to sport beards, turbans, head- scarves, and hijabs as they so desire. There are a few restrictions, however. The hijabs must be of a similar color to the wearer’s uniform and cannot have designs or markings on them, unless they are camouflage. The soldiers must still be able to wear combat helmets or other protective headgear (that would seem a good rule for those in combat). And beards may not exceed two inches in length, “unless they are rolled up or tied up.”
The Army will now allow brigade-level commanders to approve the accommodations, authority previously limited to the Army Secretary, and denial of the requested accommodation can be appealed as high as the Army Secretary. Any approved accommodation carries throughout the soldier’s career and can’t be revoked or even modified without the express approval of…the Army Secretary.
Lieutenant Colonel Randy Taylor issued a statement averring: “Our goal is to balance soldier readiness and safety with the accommodation of our soldier’s faith practices, and this latest directive allows us to do that.”
According to Reuters, the new rules were welcomed by the Sikh Coalition. Coalition Legal Director Harsimran Kaur said, “We are pleased with the progress that this new policy represents for religious tolerance and diversity.”
The Army didn’t stop there, however. Apparently overtaken by progressive fervor, it amended its hair grooming rules, as well. Locks, twists, braids and cornrows are now allowed. (Is this also, “religious expression?” I’m sure Mohawks would be okay, too, as long as you could get your helmet on).
The storied- but no longer staid- fighting force is apparently also considering lifting any restrictions on piercings, “bling,” and lip plates. Che Guevara tee-shirts will likely be allowed, as will patches or appliqués bearing the Hammer and Sickle, as long as they cover less than 10% of the soldiers uniform/outfit, sources say.
Moreover, in an effort to reach out to the LGBTGQ communities, the Army is rumored to be considering allowing corsets, wigs, high heels, tiaras, tu-tus, ball-gags, strap-ons, and evening gowns to be worn with approval of the Company Commander.
On the other hand, Crosses and Crucifixes have been permanently banned going forward.
In keeping with the recent loosening of restrictions, the Army is making a few changes to its promotional slogans and mottos. The recruiting slogan, “Army Strong,” will now be amended to: “Army Strong, Tolerant and Diverse!” The organization’s official motto, “This We’ll Defend,” has been tweaked to read, “Diversity and Inclusiveness We’ll Defend.” The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is also altering its long-used motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.” Henceforth it will read, “Duty, Honor, Country, Allahu Akbar.”
Even the service’s popular though now-retired slogan, “Be All You Can Be,” used from 1980 until 2001, will be posthumously revised and presented to posterity as: “Be Anyone You Want To Be.”