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Veterans Urge US Military to Remove Barriers That Prevent Sikhs From Serving

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  • #76
    Originally posted by Nichols View Post

    Did you at least go to the gas chamber in boot camp or during your reserve time?
    Even after two tours in Vietnam, I dread that memory to this day.
    Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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    • #77
      Originally posted by Nichols View Post
      You have been here for a long time, you probably know the backgrounds of most of the posters that went after with your 'beard friendly gas mask.'

      You attempted to shoot down/belittle a lot of military experience in this thread........
      I hope I haven't belittled anyone. I know very little about individual forum members, other than the few I have met in person. We are discussing a single issue and not individual's service. Of course, experience is a good source of knowledge.

      If we are using military experience there are a couple points in the original article worth noting. Bold highlights are mine.
      Twenty-seven retired commanders from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps have signed a letter addressed to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter encouraging him to remove barriers that effectively prevent observant Sikhs to serve without being forced to violate their religious obligations or undergo a long exemption process.
      While none of the men have used Sajjan's mask, all three have safely secured US military gas masks to their faces, the Sikh Coalition said. Kalsi, a 39-year-old recipient of the Bronze Star medal for his service in Afghanistan, has also reportedly worn a camouflage turban and pinned his beard tightly under his chin during combat. He testified before the US Commission on Civil Rights in 2013 for the right of Sikhs to serve in the military.

      "Let me make clear that I would never advocate for anything that would put my fellow soldiers in harm's way," he said. "If Sikhs could not wear helmets or gas masks when required, I would never call on my military to accommodate Sikh American soldiers. But that is simply not the case. Sikh soldiers have served on Special Forces teams. They have jumped out of airplanes as paratroopers, and have deployed in far-forward combat operations. We can serve our country and be Sikh at the same time."
      AHIKS - Play by (E)mail board wargaming since 1965.
      The Blitz - Play by Email computer wargaming.

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      • #78

        Ask yourself how devout Muslims can serve, if they have to pray five times a day?

        Serving in the military means one agrees to put the needs of the nation before your own, whether they are personal or religious. And one of the key words in military service is "uniform"...all the same in everything.

        Want to start issuing special dispensations? Get ready to issue them to everyone in the military, because they all have personal beliefs and practices that will have to be taken into account.

        Three Sikhs doe not make a problem for anyone, including the American military. This isn't even a tempest in a teacup - it's a complete nothing.
        Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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        • #79
          Just out of curiosity do any of the service members that are stating that you can not wear a mask with a beard have any actual experience or are you just repeating what you were told?

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          • #80
            Originally posted by BigDog View Post
            Just out of curiosity do any of the service members that are stating that you can not wear a mask with a beard have any actual experience or are you just repeating what you were told?
            At the time of my service we had the M 17 gas mask a real POS in my opinion and in hindsight I doubt if one could get a good seal sporting any kind of beard, however I have no personal experience since I started my career in the 82nd ABN Div. where we couldn't even have a mustache and in Vietnam I don't even remember seeing a gas mask.
            Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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            • #81
              Originally posted by Trung Si View Post
              At the time of my service we had the M 17 gas mask a real POS in my opinion and in hindsight I doubt if one could get a good seal sporting any kind of beard, however I have no personal experience since I started my career in the 82nd ABN Div. where we couldn't even have a mustache and in Vietnam I don't even remember seeing a gas mask.


              You could not, and this was emphasized by all of the blacks who wanted shaving profiles due to their pseudo-folliculitis. Their beards defeated their gas mask seals, forcing the Army to institute a hugely expensive shaving program, the point of which was to teach them to properly handle their problem so as not to need a beard.

              Oddly enough, black NCO's and officers never seemed to have this problem, only the lower enlisteds.
              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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              • #82
                Originally posted by Nichols View Post
                That is not a gas mask, that is a hood.

                This adds an additional layer to the system. You will still need a hood over the gas mask to protect against being sprayed. Decontaminating without the additional hood would cause the hood to be contaminated.

                Additionally the 'cooling gel packs' would be cut off and ineffective once you tightened your gas mask straps around the hood.

                It is impossible to have a beard friendly gas mask.

                The only way to have one is with a supplied air respirator which has a battery issue problem or a self contained breathing apparatus which has an air supply tank issue.

                Both of those type of masks would not work very well in field conditions.
                Nichols, here is a picture of the gas hood, seals at the neck and the only straps are there

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by Sparlingo View Post
                  Nichols, here is a picture of the gas hood, seals at the neck and the only straps are there

                  Yeah, there is NO way you can get that thing out and on securely in 9 seconds.
                  Last edited by frisco17; 16 Nov 15, 08:50.
                  "Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl." - Frederick the Great

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                  • #84
                    Originally posted by BigDog View Post
                    Just out of curiosity do any of the service members that are stating that you can not wear a mask with a beard have any actual experience or are you just repeating what you were told?
                    Jim,

                    I tested it during Team Spirit 90 in March of 1990. My team was supposed to be uncovered within four days of D-Day. Unfortunately we weren't uncovered until after the operation ended 10 days later. That was one of two times that I had close to a full beard growing. I couldn't get a seal, out of the six Marines in the team one of them could get a seal.

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                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Sparlingo View Post
                      Nichols, here is a picture of the gas hood, seals at the neck and the only straps are there
                      Paul,

                      I checked out the picture before I posted what you quoted.

                      The straps that I was talking about are on the gas mask. They wrap around the head to a point on the middle of the back of the skull. These would stop the 'cooling' system on the hood.

                      You would also need an additional hood that would go over the mask to have the ability to decontaminate in a field environment.

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                      • #86
                        Originally posted by frisco17 View Post
                        Yeah, there is NO way you can get that this out and on securely in 9 seconds.
                        If that hood was a part of MOPP II and you were in MOPP II, you would be able to deploy the mask in nine seconds.

                        Operating in MOPP II was difficult but because you weren't fully encapsulated, your capabilities weren't degraded too much but they were still degraded. Adding a hood to MOPP II would increase difficulties. That is why the hood was left 'unrolled' on the mask during MOPP III.

                        If memory serves me right, you have 9 seconds to get a seal and by the 20 second mark you had to have the hood on over the mask.

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                        • #87
                          Originally posted by Nichols View Post
                          Jim,

                          I tested it during Team Spirit 90 in March of 1990. My team was supposed to be uncovered within four days of D-Day. Unfortunately we weren't uncovered until after the operation ended 10 days later. That was one of two times that I had close to a full beard growing. I couldn't get a seal, out of the six Marines in the team one of them could get a seal.
                          Thanks for the reply Paul. I had a reason for asking as my experience with such is the opposite of yours. Back when I worked construction I would let my beard grow out in winter. A situation arose where I had to paint some ductwork with PVC paint. Since this was a one day only deal I really did not want to shave. I had also heard the deal about Vaseline, so the night before I decided to run some test to see if I could get a seal or if it was time to shave. I found that by tightening the straps on my respirator more than normal I could get a seal, although I have to admit having beard hairs jammed into your skin for a few hours aint real comfortable. And yes this was a respirator as opposed to an M17 or an M25 but they seal about the same to me. What has been posted loos more like the arrangement of a sandblasting hood which seals at the neck, although those are not a firm seal and do rely on positive pressure.

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                          • #88
                            The really interesting thing about this discussion is that the US military isn't the one imposing conditions that prevent service - the Sikhs themselves are.

                            It is their own inflexible customs that make service impossible at the moment.
                            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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