The United States army on Thursday changed its uniform policy to allow its personnel to dress according to their religious customs, Reuters reported. The new rules will allow soldiers to grow beards and wear hijabs and turbans once they get permission from brigade-level commanders. Once approved, the permission cannot be revoked for the rest of the soldier’s career, except by the army secretary.
The rules add that any adjustments made to uniforms for religion reasons will not affect the kind of jobs or postings they are given, barring a few cases. Lieutenant Colonel Randy Taylor said the army’s goal was to “balance soldier readiness and safety” with their faiths.
Religious groups welcomed the new rules. Sikh Coalition Legal Director Harsimran Kaur said the body was “pleased with the progress that this new policy represents for religious tolerance and diversity”.
The new policy comes after a Sikh-American officer in April 2016 was allowed by the US military to serve with long hair, a beard and turban in accordance with his faith. Captain Simratpal Singh had sued the US Defence Department in March, saying he was being subjected to discriminatory testing because of his turban and beard.