Pentagon reviews US army policy on Sikhs

Washington: Following a massive protest and an educative campaign by the Sikh community, the US defence department has decided to review its policy which prevents Sikhs from joining the country's armed forces.

On behalf of Defence Secretary Robert Gates, the Pentagon has informed an advocacy group, Sikh Coalition, that it was reviewing current regulations preventing a US Sikh national from serving the army on the ground that they wear turban.

"Although our current regulation establishes the standards of wear and appearance of the uniform, we understand the importance of reviewing the rationale behind our current policies when circumstances warrant," wrote Major General John R Hawkins, Director, Human Resources, Policy Directorate, Pentagon.

The senior leadership is aware of the concerns of the Sikh community, said the letter dated April 29, which was released to the media on Friday.

The Coalition, which had taken up the issue after two Sikh Americans challenged the regulation, has welcomed the army's step.

"We believe that once the army fully reviews the policy, it will agree that Sikh practices have in no way acted as an impediment to successful service in any military in the world," Amardeep Singh, executive director of Sikh Coalition, said in a statement.

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