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Diversity in the U.S. Military and the Contributions of the Sikh-American Community

Johns Hopkins SAIS was honored to host members of the Sikh-American community for a dialogue on diversity in the U.S. military, and the intersection of core values in Sikhism and military service.

To kick off the event, a documentary short film was shown detailing the struggles of Bhagat Singh Thind as one of the first Sikhs to serve in the U.S. Army. This was followed by a panel discussion on religious accommodation and the challenges to and opportunity for broader diversity in the U.S. Army.

The Honorable Ravi Bhalla spoke of his experiences with the British Air Force and how discipline takes a different, though no less effective, form for Sikhs in military service. Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, U.S.A. highlighted that the pragmatism of uniformity in the military is balanced by diversity and the strength of the individual, wherein these individuals become “valuable pieces [for] forming a more perfect union.” Dr. Tammy Schultz notes that the U.S. is slower to address diversity in its military compared to developing nations.

LTC Kamal S. Kalsi, D.O., FACEP, U.S.A.R. thanked the panelists for their insights and introduced a musical performance in celebration of Vaisakhi, the South Asian harvest festival and the birthday of the Sikh faith. Following the presentation, guests enjoyed a reception and an art exhibit.

The Honorable Ravi Bhalla, Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, U.S.A., Retired, Former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe Dr. Tammy S. Schultz, Director of National Security and Joint Warfare, and Professor of Strategic Studies at U.S. Marine Corps War College LTC Kamal S. Kalsi, D.O., FACEP, U.S.A.R., President of the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA) Moderated by Shamila Chaudhary, Senior South Asia Fellow at New America, Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute, and Senior Advisor to Dean Vali Nasr at Johns Hopkins SAIS

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