Army Allows Sikh Soldier to Wear Turban and Beard as Part of Uniform

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In an historic decision, the Army has decided to allow Capt. Simratpal Singh to wear a turban and unshorn beard and hair while in uniform as required by his Sikh faith.

In December, Singh had received a temporary accommodation to wear the turban while in uniform. Now he will be allowed to wear it during his active duty service with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Singh is a 2010 West Point graduate, a combat veteran with a tour in Afghanistan and has successfully completed Army Ranger School. But throughout his Army career he has served on active duty but without the long hair and beard required by the Sikh Articles of Faith.

In October, 2015 he requested an accommodation from Army grooming standards that do not allow beards and turbans to be worn as part of the Army uniform.

In a memo obtained by ABC News, Debra S. Wada, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs writes “I grant your request for an exception to Army personal appearance and grooming standards, subject to the limitations described below.

“While assigned or performing non-hazardous duties, you may wear a beard, turban, and uncut hair in a neat and conservative manner that presents a professional and well-groomed appearance. The bulk of your hair, beard, or turban may not be such that it impairs your ability to wear the Army Combat Helmet (ACH) or other protective equipment or impedes your ability to operate your assigned weapon, military equipment or machinery,” the memo says.

Wada writes that she will assess the decision in a year’s time or less if needed.

The decision will not affect three other Sikh-American soldiers who recently sued for the right to wear turbans as part of their military uniform.

“My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” said Singh in a statement from the Sikh Coalition. “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”

Singh is currently assigned to an engineering battalion based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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