Flight Lieutenant Mandeep Kaur joins the RAF's Chaplain branch

First Sikh And Muslim Padres Join British Military

The Ministry of Defence announced the new appointments as it aims to be more diverse and inclusive.

Flight Lieutenant Mandeep Kaur joins the RAF's Chaplain branch

Flight Lieutenant Mandeep Kaur is the first Sikh padre (Picture: MOD).

A Sikh and Muslim padre have joined the Royal Air Force's Chaplain branch - in a first for the British military.

They both graduated at RAF College Cranwell on Thursday, after completing their reservist officer training.

Flight Lieutenant Mandeep Kaur, the first Sikh padre, grew up in the Punjab region of India and was chosen to be a chaplain when she was studying for her engineering doctorate in the UK.

The first Muslim padre, Flight Lieutenant Ali Omar, was born in Mombasa, Kenya.

He studied a masters degree in translation studies at Portsmouth University. After that, he received a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from Oxford Brooks in 2004. 

Both will now be tasked with providing spiritual and welfare support to soldiers, airmen and women, and their families.

That might involve deployments aboard ships, going out on patrols or living on the frontline, to be on hand for when personnel need them.

Ali Omar Padre
Flight Lieutenant Ali Omar became the first Muslim padre (Picture: MOD).

Following the graduation ceremony, Chaplain (Flight Lieutenant) Ali Omar said: “My role in the RAF as a flagbearer of the Muslim Chaplaincy will see me work with the RAF Chaplaincy branch to negotiate and establish the place of World Faith Chaplaincy within the RAF.

"An overdue and exciting venture that will see me work side by side as a commissioned Muslim chaplain along colleagues from different faith.

"I am not sure of my posting at this stage."

The appointments come after the Ministry of Defence recently launched a new diversity strategy for more inclusion across the armed forces.

RAF Chaplain-in-Chief, the Venerable (Air-Vice Marshal) John Ellis, said: "It has been an absolute privilege to welcome our first Sikh and Muslim commissioned Chaplains into the Royal Air Force and I look forward immensely to working with them into the future."