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Turbans and hijabs now officially part of US Army uniform

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Female soldiers in the US Army will now be allowed to wear the hijab — just as long as it is made from the flame-resistant material.

New regulations will allow soldiers to wear turbans, beards, and hijabs in most circumstances unless the head coverings present a “specific, concrete hazard … that cannot be mitigated by reasonable measures”. They were welcomed by the Sikh Coalition.

The rules say hijabs and turbans must be made from “a subdued material in a color that closely resembles the assigned uniform” or if the soldier is wearing combat gear, camouflage material. Personnel can be ordered to use fire-resistant cloth.

The new rules allow accommodations for head coverings and beards to be approved at a lower command level.

In a memo, Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning said: “Since 2009, religious accommodation requests requiring a waiver for uniform wear and grooming have largely fallen into one of three faith practices: the wear of a hijab; the wear of a beard; and the wear of a turban or under-turban/patka, with uncut beard and uncut hair.

“Based on the successful examples of soldiers currently serving with these accommodations, I have determined that brigade-level commanders may approve requests for these accommodations.

“All soldiers must wear the Advanced Combat Helmet and other protective headgear in accordance with the applicable technical manuals. As necessary, soldiers will modify the placement and style of their hair to achieve a proper fit. Removal of pads from helmets for fit or comfort is not permitted except as authorized by the applicable technical manual.”

It follows a lawsuit by decorated Sikh soldier Capt Simratpal Singh.

Harsimran Kaur, of the Sikh Coalition, said: “While we still seek a permanent policy change that enables all religious minorities to freely serve without exception, we are pleased with the progress that this new policy represents for religious tolerance and diversity by our nation’s largest employer.”

An Army spokesman said: “The Army has reviewed its policies to ensure we allow every opportunity for qualified soldiers to serve, regardless of their faith background.”

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Army

US Army tests more breathable hot weather uniforms

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USAF Pararescue Jumbers (PJs) men on IED response

US Army uniform officials will begin evaluating a new Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform (IHWC) in January 2018 by issuing troops in Hawaii thousands of lighter uniforms that are more suited to the Pacific theater’s sweltering environment.

The development of new, more breathable uniforms follows another Army effort when between March and August the service fielded 9,000 pairs of new Jungle Combat Boots to combat teams with the 2nd and 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii.

Until now, troops with the 25th Infantry trained in tropical environs wearing Hot Weather Combat Boots and Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) that were designed for a desert climate.

Capt. Daniel Ferenczy, an assistant product manager for Extreme Weather Clothing and Footwear, told Military.com that this January “is going to be huge,” explaining that soldiers “are going to be pure-fleeted in the [Operation Camouflage Pattern] with jungle boots in a hot weather combat uniform.”

Made by Source America, the new uniforms will have a 57 percent nylon/ 43 percent cotton blend, which Ferenczy says will give them “greater airflow” and make them dry faster than the ACU’s 50/50 nylon blend.

He noted, “It adds a little bit more strength which allows us to make it a lighter blend or a thinner weave… so it should dry a little quicker” and that “there are also architectural differences between the ACU uniform and this one.

Ferenczy described the forthcoming uniforms as having less layers of fabric, which helps it dry quicker since it can’t hold much moisture, with better flexibility as well. He also said there will be no breast pockets since the soldier’s gear usually covers the uniform when they’re in the field, so the Army decided to remove that extra layer as it winds up retaining heat and moisture.

The service removed back pockets from the uniform pants for the same reason, and a pocket for identification cards has been added inside the waistband. Instead of a zipper, the IHWC’s blouse will have a button-down front, and a button-down flap at the top of the pocket will replace the side zipper that’s usually placed on the shoulder.

Ferenczy said, “Every design feature on this uniform came straight out of the horse’s mouth,” and that the designers have worked closely with Hawaii’s Jungle Operations Training Center. In January, the $14 million program expects to issue about 20,000 sets of uniforms to Hawaii’s 2nd and 3rd BCTs with another 10-12,000 sets coming in March.

Once troop from the 25th have trained in the new Jungle Uniforms, Ferenzcy’s team will are planning to return in April or May to get feedback and make whatever necessary adjustments are required.

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Former Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta just gave away his Medal of Honor

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Former Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta just gave away the highest valor award a soldier can receive. So he clearly doesn’t need another medal in any form. Nevertheless, the Medal of Honor recipient deserves a salute for presenting his award to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team during an event in early July.

The commander in chief bestowed Giunta with the MOH in 2010 for his actions three years earlier during an enemy ambush while serving with the 173rd in Afghanistan. Giunta received the Medal of Honor in 2010 for his actions in October 2007 when he was a team leader with Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Then a specialist, Giunta was conducting a patrol with his team in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan when they were ambushed by the enemy, according to his citation for the medal. Giunta exposed himself to enemy fire to help his injured squad leader find cover. His body armor and secondary weapon were struck with enemy fire as he performed first aid on the squad leader.

Using grenades to provide cover, Giunta and his team made it to other wounded soldiers who had been separated from the squad. Giunta then realized one soldier was still missing. He discovered two insurgents carrying the wounded soldier away. He engaged the enemy, killing one insurgent and wounding the other. Then he gave medical aid to the wounded U.S. soldier he had rescued.

Since 2010, the award weighed heavily on his shoulders. When troops receive the Medal of Honor for acts of valor, they usually credit their fellow service members. No recipient in recent times has been more adamant that the award wasn’t his alone:

“The medal [Medal of Honor] should go to the guy on the right of me and the guy on the left of me,” he said after he received it.

Soldiers praised him for showing true military leadership. This act is more than an NCO’s leadership. It is a legacy. It is Giunta’s legacy to the soldiers to the right of him, to the left of him, and to all those at the 173rd who will follow after him, and see what one humble man can do.

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