British Army considers proposals to create a Sikh regiment



The head of the British Army is considering plans to put together a Sikh regiment, The Telegraph quoted a British minister as saying.

British Minister Mark Francois told Commons that the Chief of the General Staff (CGS) Sir Nick Carter is reviewing the likelihood of forming a new unit that would inherit many of the “proud traditions of Sikh regiments” from the British Army’s past.

Thousands of Sikh soldiers served in the British Army in the 19th century and in both of the world wars while 10 soldiers serving in the Sikh regiment even wore the esteemed Victoria Crosses.

The proposal to create a unit solely on racial backgrounds is not a novelty. A recent attempt was done away with by UK’s Ministry of Defence amid risks that the move might be considered racist.

A Conservative former defence minister Sir Nicholas Soames, while speaking at a session of the House of Commons, urged ministers to forgo needless political correctness and voiced his support for the creation of a Sikh regiment.

Soames sees the possibility of a Sikh unit as a measure to “make up a very serious gap in our Armed Forces”.

Responding to his assertions, Mr Francois, minister for the Armed Forces, said: “We have passed this possibility onto the CGS, who is now looking at this issue and we are awaiting his comments.

“But the idea may well have merit.”

Another Conservative Rory Stewart suggested the production of a Sikh company within the reserves as a constructive starting point before the actual formation of a Sikh regiment.

The latest numbers show the British Armed Forces have around 160 Sikhs in their ranks, including 130 in the Army.

Lord Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, said the possibility of a debut Sikh unit was something “that would be nice if it happened”.

“There aren’t that many Sikhs in the Army. A regiment needs a bit more. There needs to be some enticement to go, but with all the defence cuts, the Army may not look that tempting,” he added.

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