UPDATED 20 December 2010
Combat Arms Brown Beret: long overdue
IDF senior officer with brown beret; we should have epaulets on our uniforms so we can carry folded berets there, too.
With over 4, 000 DEAD and 24, 000 wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan DO YOU THINK OUR SOLDIERS ARE "WORTHY" OF A BERET? Have they "earned" it already?
Well, how about it, Ranger snob? marine snob?
Pretty sick, huh? There are still ranger and gyrene-whiner web sites still up post-9/11 wailing about their little egos being bruised over a piece of headgear as 22,000+ have paid terrible prices to beret defend our freedom--most of whom were/are NOT rangers or marines.
On October 18, 2000 Chief of Staff of the Army, General Eric Shinseki made the BLACK beret standard for the U.S. Army! This web page up for nearly 8 years has advocated BROWN berets for ALL U.S. Army Soldiers all along beginning with combat arms, and to keep BLACK for Army Rangers many whom are infuriated (bezerkoid) that their sole ownership of the black color was taken away. Let's look back on these events and snobby attitudes BEFORE an Army General made everyone "see the light" and do the right thing and give our Soldiers, ALL OF THEM a decent headgear they have "earned" in spades.
Young LT Sparks USMC goes to Israel to attend their jump school and is very impressed with the egalitarian teamwork that ALL of the IDF shares. Esperit de Corps is not reserved for just a few units to look good at the expense of everyone else,
ALL Soldiers and units have their own colored distinctive beret and personalities that fits their mission profiles. He asks, "Why not the same ethos here in the U.S. military?".
The 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne) began as an organization fighting for a beret to replace the disgusting garrison cap and uninspired BDU cap shortly after director, Mike Sparks in a National Guard M113A3 Gavin mechanized infantry unit saw how wearing berets as National Training Center opposing forces (OPFOR) drastically raised troop morale and performance and was convinced there was a precedent for U.S. Army-wide beret use.
Here is the suggestion we submitted through Army internal channels at the time:
Now the fun begins! Notice how the Army bureaucrat snobs cannot seem to fathom the MATH of 1 headgear replacing 2.
Army-wide Black Beret being worn: beats a piece of crap dunce cap no one wears!
The pictures above show that the black beret has raised the military bearing of ALL SOLDIERS; as the Bible (God) says: "whatsoever a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". Self-image is not a trivial matter, and the military snobs who want to have the majority of the Army's Soldiers walk around defeated and dejected just so they can feel superior know it. An ADULT would welcome his brothers and sisters being "high speed" and kicking ass because someday that person might have to save your ass (practicality) and that when one of us succeeds, WE ALL SUCCEED because we are all inter-connected, because in the final analysis WE ARE ALL FIGHTING FOR EACH OTHER!
Reflect on Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's speech on the road to Gettysburg that convinced 120 mutineers to join the fight in the nick of time to save our Union at THE critical time and place when our nation's future hung in the balance on Little Round Top. That's LEADERSHIP. Wanting yourself to have a snazzy beret at the expense of others, that's BULLSHT. Its time we assault this BS mindset and stick a bayonet through it. "Fix Bayonets, Charge! Fix Bayonets Charge!"
We can now conclude with over 8 years of Army-wide beret use that every Soldier's black beret gets worn far more than the atrocious garrison cap, in fact units in the old days would go out of their way to NOT wear the class "A" uniform so as to not wear the ugly cap.
The experiences of the Airborne with the maroon, the rangers with the black and special forces with their green beret showed the same truths; issuing them the garrison cap that was never worn and discarded was and still is a waste of money when they have better headgear in their berets. So yeah, the garrison cap will last "48 months", mine is in fact over 17 YEARS OLD----BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO WEAR IT! SO IT DOES NOT "WEAR" OUT. What a bunch of milicrat bean-counter, penny-wise, pound foolish bullshit; any excuse to deny progress and maintain the status quo! In contrast, the beret has been (for years before and after the Army-wide beret headgear adoption) WORN DAILY with the Battle Dress Uniform (BDUs) and with the class "A" uniform which is now being put to use instead of sitting in a closet collecting dust. 1 headgear that makes our Soldiers looks good replacing 1 that destroys morale and is a worthless waste of money (garrison cap = piece of crap) and the need for 1 BDU cap. However, comfortable with their officer rank/status, the milicrats have no empathy for the lower-ranking Soldier to have any respect; so the whole aspect of the how embarassing the garrison "cunt cap" looks like means nothing to them. And when a suggestion comes from someone who is not a general officer with the power to demote or promote the bureaucrat it must be shot down; lest the Soldiers who own the Army start acting like the professionals with a stake in the organization (their lives are not good enough?) they should be with a say in how things are done.
We ordered a BROWN BERET from Bancroft in Arkansas (that's a U.S. company), and they said it would be "no problemo" to make more.
Therefore, the otherwise AWESOMELY GOOD DECISION to go with the Army-wide beret, could have been "tweaked" by convincing the Secretary of the Army White and the Chief Shinseki to go with a BROWN beret instead. We made one last attempt to appease the whining rangers by making appeal to our Congressman. His reply is below.
The Rangers got a very nice tan beret instead so they should quit their whining (real motive is they are snobs that want the rest of the Army to look like feces so they can look better than them).
However, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
You now can see we did everything we could to PRE-EMPT the Rangers losing their black beret color.
What needs to happen here in light of ALL OF THE SOLDIERS WHO HAVE DIED SINCE 9/11 (as if all the non-Ranger Soldiers who died winning all the nation's war previously was not enough precedent?) is for all the USMC, Ranger, Airborne and Special Forces snobs to WAKE UP and shut the fuk up with their zero sum game snobbery that they think only THEY deserve to look like somebody. Life is not an apple pie where if someone gets 4 pieces that's 4 pieces you will never get. When someone wins this does not mean YOU lose. Zero sum is the idea if someone takes all the pie pieces (glory) there will be nothing then for you.
Bake another pie.
Get off your ass and do better. Do more. Go farther. Stop resting on the laurels and achievements of those that went before you and got you things like berets.
This idea that for anyone to win, someone has to lose ie; for someone to look GOOD someone else has to look like sht (terrible, feces) is selfish, narrow minded and simply not true in life. GROW UP.
If you think you are sooooooooooo much better because you are a _________(fill in the blank of what snob title you possess) then SHOW IT BY YOUR DEEDS!
DO NOT play this artificial, contrived game of elevating yourself by denigrating others. A similar game is played by some Army Airborne snobs who look down on those who do not have U.S. jump wings as if it means they "could not hack it" ie; they somehow did not volunteer or when they went to the course washed out when the majority of the time the person without U.S. jump wings HAS NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO GO TO U.S. Army Airborne school because the SNOBBY bureaucracy will not let them if they are in an inferior social class unit (line USMC infantry, Army "support" and "mechanized" units etc.). Yes, in the case of 1st TSG (A) director, LT Sparks he was not able to go to and graduate from the U.S. Army Airborne course until after he switched services. Never mind that parachute insertion is an important capability ALL SOLDIERS should have especially so we can get Air-Mech-Strike 3D maneuver and "get the lead out" (old WW2 saying my father liked to say) of our link-up of personnel with pre-positioned ship equipment sets without need of runways. Too much of the American military is a giant garrison egomaniac's paradise instead of functional warfighting outfit. The whole beret controversy has brought this Dixonian narcissism to light.
Not surprisingly, fighting egotistic narcissism is a full-time job; in the Stars 'n Stripes article below some Ranger snobs try to use their "ox being gored" (their beret color taken from them) to further their real agenda which is that only THEY are "worthy" of looking good, only THEY take risks and die. This is a bunch of bullsht and 1st TSG (A) LT Sparks says so (in a polite way) when interviewed "on the record".
Army Secretary White in one of the only right things he did was to recall back when he was a young LT in the 11th ACR in Vietnam and the black beret was worn by them as distinctive head gear.
Despite Army Ranger claims that they "own" the black beret starting in the 1950s, the black beret was first used by British General Percy Hobart's ARMOR crews in the 1920s. The black beret heritage belongs to tankers not Rangers.
British tank pioneer General Percy Hobart created the Black Beret NOT U.S. Army Rangers
The Secretary, the Chief and the Army CSM Tilley were using the beret as an opportunity to define an "Army standard" to elevate the Soldiers of our Army, making EARNING IT after basic/AIT, and maintaining the army standard afterwards a never-ending quest for excellence, not a reducing of the "value" of the beret as some zero-sum thinkers complain. To those snobs who are against the hard-working Army Soldier having dignity, respect and a non-clown-like appearance the web page below is primarily directed. Enjoy! Our Army is on the march!
UPDATE JULY 2001: BERET GOOD
A young E5 wrote us:
"Thoroughly enjoy your website. I would like to make a comment regarding the Army's switch to berets and the confusion surrounding its proper wear with which uniforms. I believe the Army made a correct decision to adopt the beret. I was issued mine in June and I like it very much. I feel more professional and more connected to my unit. The reason is that we wear our unit crest on the headgear and we see who and what we embody in that crest. We know the history of the crest and we live up to its history.
Anyway, the point of my letter is that I think the BDU patrol cover should be discarded entirely. A floppy hat of the type used by units deployed in a jungle environment would be, in my opinion a more utilitarian choice. The patrol cap is a hat that doesn't protect the back of the neck from the ravages of the sun. Nothing is more uncomfortable than a sunburned neck. I personally use a camouflage bandana to cover my neck and I have on occasion received negative comments on it (lack of professional look). I would like to know your view on this subject as I have read your website with much interest and it has enlightened me that the Army, our Army, can be better."
"New Issue"U.S. Army-wide Universal Beret Flash (Until heraldry approves major unit flashes)
Authorized 18 Jan 2001
Item #399F at.50 from H.R. Saunders
Tilley gives update on black berets by Gary Sheftick
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 13, 2001) - A test on the Army's history is a "rite of passage" Soldiers will be required to undergo in the future before donning their black berets, said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack L. Tilley.
In an interview Feb. 8, Tilley answered a number of questions about the beret that he said Soldiers across the Army have been asking him as they prepare to adopt the headgear June 14.
Tilley said the BDU cap will continue to be worn in the field after June, but its name will change to "patrol cap." He said in order to have 1.3 million berets ready by the Army birthday June 14, the military had to contract with several overseas firms -- but he emphasized the Army went through the proper channels to obtain approval. And he said units across the Army will soon begin classes on proper wear of the beret.
This week many of the Army's general officers will attend a one-hour block of instruction about wear of the beret as part of the Army Commander's Conference in Washington, D.C. The commanders will also discuss specific "rites of passage" that might be required before new Soldiers don the beret, Tilley said.
"You know, a lot of people ask me about this rite of passage," Tilley said.
He explained that the Army leadership is still working to determine exactly what new Soldiers will be required to do in order to earn the privilege of being issued a beret. But he said one thing is certain:
"We're going to have a test; an undetermined amount of questions right now, but we're going to have a test that talks about the history of our Army."
The test might be given when a trainee reports to his or her fist permanent duty station, Tilley said, but added the Army leadership hasn't decided for sure.
"It's a big deal for us to move into that first unit," Tilley said.
Tilley said not only the test, but the beret itself will emphasize the Army's history.
Tilley said the new beret flash comes from the Revolutionary War. "The blue flash represents the Continental Army and the 13 stars represent the 13 colonies," he added.
He said many Soldiers don't know about the Army's birthday, and that's going to change.
"We're going to go back now and start talking about the history of the Army," Tilley said, "the importance of the Army, where we came from and what we're going to do.
"When you look at that beret, you're going to think about transformation," Tilley said as well.
"The Chief of Staff of the Army has a great vision for us," he said.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki announced in October that Soldiers will begin wearing the black beret on June 14, the Army's first birthday of the new millennium. He said the beret will be a symbol of the Army's transformation to a lighter, more deployable force.
"Starting next June, the black beret will be symbolic of our commitment to transform this magnificent Army into a new force - a strategically responsive force for the 21st century," Shinseki said. He then charged the Sergeant Major of the Army to come up with a plan to implement the beret's adoption Army-wide.
Tilley admitted that at first, some Soldiers of the Army's elite Ranger units were concerned about sharing their traditional black berets with the rest of the Army.
"Any time you talk about change, I think some people get very frustrated," Tilley said.
"What a lot of people don't realize is that, this beret was not just [worn by] the Rangers," Tilley said.
As early as the 1920s, Tilley said the beret was worn by British tankers. And he said U.S. Army "heavy" units -- such as the armored cavalry - wore the black beret in the 1970s.
"We're not taking anything from anybody, we're just being all that we can be and we're just moving forward," Tilley said.
Tilley said black was the color selected for the universal beret because it matches all of the Army's uniforms. He also said that black hides dirt.
"If you're a tanker working in the motor pool down there and you happen to get some grease on your hat or get your hat dirty, that black will cover up the grease a little bit," Tilley said.
Tilley said it may be impossible to convince some people that donning the beret is positive.
"First of all, I don't think you can convince everybody," Tilley said. But he said most Soldiers understand and are moving forward.
Soldiers Army-wide will be issued their first beret in April, Tilley said, in order to give them time to prepare to wear it properly. (A second beret will be issued in October, he said.)
"And so we have to prepare ourselves on how to put on the beret," Tilley said. "And that's exactly what's happening right now. People are going down and giving those professional development classes.
"I've tried mine on," Tilley said about the beret.
Tilley had NCOs working at the Pentagon attend a "Sergeant's Time" class on wearing the beret Jan. 23. A session on wearing the beret was also given to 230 of the Army's top NCOs at the first Nominative Command Sergeant's Major Conference last month at Fort Bliss, Texas.
"The reason I did that is I wanted them to go back and start teaching their Soldiers within their units on how to wear the beret," Tilley said.
"If you'd wait until June the 14th to put on the beret," he said, "guess what we'd look like?"
Tilley said berets will be worn with the battle dress uniform in garrison, as well as the Class "A" and "B" uniforms. The BDU "patrol cap" will be worn mostly in the field, Tilley said, when the Kevlar helmet is not being used. That's one reason behind the name change of the BDU cap, he said.
Tilley also said Soldiers will not blouse their boots when they wear the beret. And he added that women will still be able to wear the Class B skirt with the beret.
Rangers may switch color of headgear By Chuck Vinch
Washington bureau chief
WASHINGTON The elite Airborne Rangers may get headgear of a different color when the entire Army dons the Rangers traditional black beret next June, the services top enlisted man said Friday.
"We have talked about the Rangers adopting another color, and they may do that," Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack Tilley said in a brief interview. "Those are things were going to have to work out."
Tilley said he has talked with Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Rakow, the top NCO in the 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Benning, Ga., about the possibility of switching the Rangers from black to an olive drab hue that would be slightly darker than the color worn by Army Special Forces troops, the "Green Berets."
In the first public comments by a senior Army official since Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki made the announcement Oct. 17 that the black beret would become standard Army headgear, Tilley defended the decision and predicted it will be a significant morale booster.
"The black beret has been used by our light and heavy forces before," he said. "Its instilled pride in Soldiers for years. This wasnt pointed at anybody we just selected the best color for us. Its just whats good for the Army.
"Its transformation, and transformation is change," he said. "This is a positive change for us. I know it will motivate a lot of Soldiers."
Shinseki's decision has set off a firestorm in both the active-duty and veteran Ranger community as well as in the Armys other two special operations camps, the Special Forces and the Airborne units.
Shinseki said he wants to use the sense of pride that the beret has long represented to the Rangers to foster an attitude of excellence among the entire Army as it moves forward with its sweeping transformation effort to a lighter, more deployable, more agile force.
But the leadership might have miscalculated the depth of sentiment special operations troops have for their headgear, which are viewed as badges of honor earned for enduring the toughest military training and missions.
"The whole thing probably seems pretty silly to civilians, combat Soldiers getting all emotional about a piece of headgear," said one Army officer in the Pentagon with Ranger experience. "But to the guys who earn the right to wear it, its a lot more than just a hat."
Tilley acknowledged that hes gotten plenty of e-mails about the issue, but said they have been both pro and con. "The older troops and the veterans are probably a little more resistant" than the younger Soldiers, he said.
Tilley will head a panel that will include Rakow to figure out how to implement the change, which Shinseki has set for next June 14th, the Armys 226th birthday.
"I have contacted the regimental Sergeant Major, and he will be in the decision-making process of the panel," Tilley said. "Were going to do this right for him and right for the United States Army."
The camouflage fatigue cap still will be used when troops are in the field, but Tilley said the flat garrison cap and saucerlike service cap "probably could go away," although a final decision on that has not yet been made.
Shinseki has talked of coordinating some sort of Army-wide "rite of passage" during which all Soldiers would make the change together. "There are still a lot of details to work out," Tilley said.
Despite Tilleys attempts to explain the Armys rationale, the issue continues to burn up the Ranger e-mail network, with much of the commentary proving far too colorful to print in a family newspaper.
1998. The never-ending war in Iraq.....
The U.S. must bolster the defenses of Kuwait and fly in ground combat power quickly since she is a strategic air power. Sounds like a job for the Paratroopers of the 82d Airborne Division, right?
Instead its mechanized infantry Soldiers and tankers of the 3rd Brigade of the 3d Infantry Division seen before the cameras of CNN with their distinctive "fuzzy t.v. set" patches sewn to their Kevlar(c) helmets. You may recall the famed 3rd Infantry Division wore their Division patch in full color on the sides of their M1 steel helmets during World War II. You can see this in the film "To Hell and Back" the autobiography of America's most decorated WWII Soldier (the marines rejected him), 2LT Audie Murphy's combat exploits in the 3rd ID. Just as the 3rd ID lead the U.S. Army across North Africa, Italy and Europe in WWII, its leading the way into the 21st Century arena.
"In reviewing these actions it is apparent that some military capabilities have been quite useful while others have assumed a much more modest role. In Panama, Haiti and Somalia the principal instrument of American power was its light infantry divisions. Secretary of State Warren Christopher noted that, despite the threat of air and naval attack, it was only when the Army's 82nd Airborne Division was in the air that the Haitian government of General Cedras stepped aside and agreed to the restoration of power to President Aristide."
"....But when assessed with appropriate objectivity, the decisive capability was provided by the ground components. The bottom line remains that despite 37 days of furious air bombardment, it still took the land campaign to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait and secure the established political objectives. In Bosnia the peacekeeping operation itself ultimately has rested on the shoulders of the Army's 1st Armored Division.
--Colonel M. Thomas Davis, USA, who is currently serving as a Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institute. A separate version of this paper appeared in the 20 October 1996 edition of the Los Angeles Times.
As often is the case, heavy force Soldiers are being called on more and more to rapidly deploy as "the first to fight" and to peacekeep with a capital "K"; the heavy armored fighting vehicles of the 3d ID; M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), M2A2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), M113A3 and M1064A3 120mm mortar Gavin Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and M109A6 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzers can fight a mobile war in the open deserts of southwest asia or rumble down the mean streets of a war-torn Bosnia and by force of intimidation keep the peace. The 1st Armored Division does this today in the mean streets of Bosnia, just as the 2d Infantry Division keeps South Korea free. Pre-positioning armored fighting vehicles on fast sealift ships or on land for link-up by their Soldiers flying in makes it possible for a rapid response to world crisis. This could be enhanced by 11M Soldiers automatically crossing over to the other side of Fort Benning, GA and going to U.S. Airborne School so these men can parachute into a DZ (not require a concrete runway) secured by the 82d Airborne Division or a regional Airborne Combat Team like the 1-501st in Alaska or the 1-508th in Vincenza, Italy. Army Brigades Afloat (APS-3) with personnel that can jump in do not need concrete runways to land on, thus being able to link up with their M1 Abrams, M2 Bradley and M113A3 Gavin AFVs off-loaded from their pre-positioned ships by Army lighters and landing craft like the LACV-30 and LCAC Air Cushion Vehicle that can be carried onboard Army Pre-Po ships for rapid ship-to-shore movement without need of a port or a marine corps to seize it.
Ironically this is "deja vu all over again"
A smug Amero-centric narcissist, Jim Grimshaw, President of the U.S. Army Ranger Association states; "The Ranger black beret came into being during the Korean War by at least one of the Airborne-Ranger companies in 1951. It was unauthorized and didn't last long. It was resurrected in the 1960's by the Ranger Department. I wore one as an instructor in the Florida Ranger Camp, 1966-67.
True, armor units in other countries traditionally wear black berets, just as commando units wear fawn or green. But, we are not those countries. We are talking about the U.S. Army['s traditions]. Frankly, I don't care what color beret the rest of the Army wears as long as it isn't black, green or maroon. I'm qualified to wear all three and have served in units that wore them."
Black Berets worn by OPFOR at NTC, Ft. Irwin, California
Jim is somewhat right, but there is another "twist" to the Black beret tale with U.S. Army Armor units wearing it off/on until now when its worn continuously at NTC by the 11th ACR OPFOR. The 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division on Kelley Hill at Fort benning, Georgia has the 2nd Battalion of the 69th Armor Regiment which is still on active-duty dating back to the Vietnam war where it wore black berets. Thus, technically, they are still authorized to wear them.
In 1966, in Vietnam the 1st Bn, 69th Armor, 3rd Bde Task Force, 25th Infantry Division was authorized to wear the black beret and to our knowledge is STILL authorized to wear them. As the "Lightning" in the "Tropic Lightnings", their M48 medium tanks and M113 Gavin ACAVs saved the day on numerous occasions in Vietnam. The 177th Armored OPFOR at NTC, wear black berets, what's the problem here? Do we want our men fighting at maximum efficiency? Is it asking to much to render a little RESPECT and HONOR (Army values, anyone?) to our men with a BROWN beret? Or must all glory and appearances be reserved for the smug officer corps which already has all kinds of "perks" for their exalted rank/position? Or just to rangers, as if the rest of the Army doesn't ruck, PT, fight and die in peacetime and in war?
What do other countries wear?
Actually in most countries a black beret means armored corps. The first unit to wear black berets was the Royal Tank Regiment, back in the 1920s. Before this I think the only people who had berets at all were the French Chasseurs Alpins who wore blue. As far as the British Army goes in 1942 the Paras/Airborne Forces got the maroon beret and the Commandos green. By now all armoured corps units were wearing black while motor battalions (mech inf) had started wearing khaki in place of the field service cap (equivalent to U.S. overseas cap), as did many other infantry units later in the war. The SAS started wearing their sand-coloured beret in 1942, later being forced to change to the maroon of the Airborne Forces (which caused much resentment). At the end of the war it was decided that everyone would get berets, dark blue being the "default" colour, khaki being given to the Guards, black again only for the RTR. The reasons were to give National Servicemen in the cash-strapped post-war army more pride in their uniform, they were also allowed to wear open collars and ties, previously only for officers. Scottish regiments of course carried on wearing their glengarries or balmorals. As far as South Africa goes the armoured boys again were the first to get berets, black starting in 1940, later in the war many other units started wearing khaki, in place of the FSC or the much-hated solar topee (pith helmet).
Since the war a lot of new beret colours have come into the British Army as regiments and corps seek to make themselves more distinctive, eg. the grey of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, the sky-blue of the Army Air Corps. The SAS got their berets back in 1957. Some infantry Regiments wear blue, some khaki, some green (mostly "rifle" regts, slightly different shade to Commando green). While some units (Paras, Commandos, AAC, Intelligence Corps, a few infantry regts) wear berets in all orders of dress, in No.2s (khaki service dress, equivalent to U.S. Class "A"s) most wear the blue peaked cap from the rarely-worn No.1s (equivalent to U.S. blues), berets being reserved for barrack dress (green fatigues often with jersey) and combats (camouflage uniform). The Royal Navy wears navy-blue berets in working dress, caps(officers) and round hats(sailors) on more formal occasions. The Royal Marines wear white peaked caps in blues, green berets in Lovat service dress (greens) and all other uniforms, except for the Band Service and recruits, who wear navy-blue.
In other countries things have developed differently. In South Africa only those issued service dress have caps, berets are worn in camos and "step-outs" (khakis, a bit like the old U.S. tropicals without jacket and tie).
Colors differ in different places, however almost everywhere maroon=Paratroops and black=armored corps. In South Africa and in NZ infantry wear green, Germany too.
In Israel the various infantry brigades have their own colors ie. brown for Golani, purple for the amphibious Givaati.
Do Heavy forces deserve respect (a beret)?
While more costly to deploy than a light division, these heavy forces can fully protect U.S. Soldiers from rogue elements seeking to shatter the peace by shooting at an exposed Soldier just wearing BDUs, body armor and a rucksack.
What is needed within the U.S. Army is to honor the sacrifices these Soldiers are making to remind us all that they are also elite troops like the Paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division. While sewing your subdued Division patch on your PASGT Kevlar(c) helmet cover is a good idea, these things should be covered with camouflage material like burlap strips so they will not be seen. Also, the PASGT Kevlar(c) helmet is not worn for the majority of the time when Soldiers are not in imminent contact with the enemy.
In sharp contrast to the elite status of the beret-wearing units of the Army, the other combat arms units have to wear the dreaded "garrison cap" which looks like a dunce cap. Not allowed to be worn with any personality like it was in the 40s/50s (see Beetle Bailey comics or military history books) its an eyesore and an embarrassment to everyone. It sends thousands to the other services for recruitments just by its negative image. Take a look for yourself below:
The harsh truth is giving new Soldiers college benefits and bonuses to enlist, we are bribing them to join our Army. Besides being costly, its not working. The main reason is that people want to avoid three years of Army life as a "non-person" having their hopes raised and let down, "hurry up and wait", and "sorry we don't have the money for that". Now we are letting Madison Avenue tell us to change our motto to something lesser than the past, when what the Soldier wants is to be allowed to "be all he/she can be". That means using all that bribe money instead to send that person to warrior schools like Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder, but that would entail that Soldier getting a badge and garnering respect and we can't have that!
What Soldiers want is to be respected for the sacrifices that they are making which often puts their life on the line, that should be universally appreciated by all their fellow Soldiers regardless of their rank. In a world of broken homes, and broken communities, if a young person choosing to become a Soldier would know that he was going to be treated like "somebody", all throughout his days in the Army, people would flock to join our Army.
ALL SOLDIERS should be treated and viewed as "somebody" BECAUSE they are "somebody". They are human beings. An "E-4" human being is just as much a "somebody" as an "E-7" somebody. The annals of history are covered with the battles won by the so-called "lowly enlisted man". Yet the Army humiliates us all with the ridiculous garrison cap if we are not in an "elite" unit that wears a beret. Its a shame to see all these young graduates of Infantry AIT in their Class A/B uniforms off-post talking to loved ones, wearing the current Garrison "Dunce" Cap while civilians drive by and stare at them wearing the silly looking hats. Regulations do not allow them to wear it with personality like it was in World War II with dimples in the center, so its too high and makes the Soldier look like a "conehead"; frankly it looks pathetic. Believe it or not people see this, some of whom, could choose to become one of us but don't. They join another service that at least knows how to present its members in a sharp looking uniform and is filling its recruiting quotas each year. They hear stories about an Army that runs down the individual, undervalues the warrior ethic and then sees the "dunce cap" on its Soldiers and they think it must be true.
So while we are willing to bribe people to join the Army using MILLIONS of dollars of the Army budget, we seem unwilling to grant our own people respect, which costs NOTHING. We can change this by a Combat Arms Brown Beret becoming the head gear for Class "A/B" uniform and BDUs while in garrison, for all Infantry, Artillery, Armor, Aviation, Combat Engineer Soldiers. Young people seeing recruiters wearing the BROWN BERET, would know that if they put their life on the line and become a Combat Arms Soldier that they would be recognized in their lifetime by the distinctive headgear of a BROWN BERET, not too late by a folded flag given to their parents when they are gone. Napoleon said "with a little bit of ribbon, I can conquer the world", this is still true today. There will be those that will try to minimize the impact a BROWN BERET would have on Combat Arms Soldiers, because they don't want to admit that anything is lacking now or they are comfortable with the Army as it is because they have "theirs" (rank, retirement, prestige, HOOAH badges). I would expect the "kill-joys" and the minimizers to be the majority of the replies to this web page because they are the ones who drive people from the Army, but if you asked the SOLDIER in units not considered "elite" by a confidential survey away from his possibly negative-to-HOOAH environment the majority would welcome a BROWN BERET. Deep down inside, even the cynics/minimizers would wear their BROWN BERET in a "heartbeat" if it were authorized.
For more details: Militarism Sucks!
Category I: AWE
1. Delta force/British SAS (voluntary respect) General officers (forced respect)/CMH winners
2. Army numbered Special Forces Groups
3. Rangers-SEALs-Force recon-French Foreign Legion
4. Paratroopers/Airborne/Pathfinders/Combat vets from WWII, Korea, Vietnam
Category II: UNVOICED ADMIRATION FOR THE JOB THEY DO
5. Air Assault troops/Combat vets from Panama, Somalia, Grenada, Desert Storm
6. Light infantry (Whatever happened to "Lightfighters"?)
7. Tankers-Aviators-Special Boat units (An officer of any branch by regulation)
Category III: Not considered elite or worthy of much respect, ordinary...
8. Mech-infantry-marines (A SNCO/NCO by regulation)
9. Combat engineers
10. Field artillery
Category IV: Disrespect, scorn looked down upon, derision, not in much danger, safe in the rear with the gear etc.
12. all "REMF" non-combat arms MOSs (Same respect level of E4 and below)
13. RC "Wild card":
If you enter National Guard or Army Reserve into the equation, your place on the list may be ignored completely!..even if you are Combat Arms, Airborne or even SF! You are not "real" even though its the same rifle, same rucksack, same tasks being done as the AC does. You are a lower life-form because you go to work in civilian life, pay bills, raise families, pay taxes AND prepare to go to war with Reserve/National Guard unit. The fact is RC Soldiers may be THE place to innovate and test new ideas to dominate the 21st century arena because of the freedom to do so without Regular Army careerist politics getting in the way.
14. "Female" wild card (you are "just" a civilian in uniform)
If you are a female, "all bets are off" on where you stand in the "food chain", you may be there only by social engineering. Even if you prove able, the men may simply ignore you and hold you in their minds at position #14. Talking to non-warrior types like the female editor of an Army post newspaper who was completely clueless to the concept of military bearing and its impact on behavior in combat; the temptation to broad brush females into position #14 is awfully strong.
I am sorry but this is the truth about the way most people in the U.S. military see themselves and act accordingly. Its NOT actually the true value of these units in reality, its the pervading perception. "The act accordingly" part is the greatest damage. Their minds close, they stop looking out for new ideas, because "they are not worthy" (Think Mike Myers/Dana Carvey chanting this in Wayne's World).
The Bible says:
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he".
This is why I want a Brown Beret to get the Combat Arms seeing themselves as to their TRUE potential and LIVE UP TO IT.
That would be a start.
Renaming all "support" units "Strength" or "Sustainment" would be a start, too.
If I had my way, I'd make ALL combat arms "elite" into a Category II level of respect by reminding everyone of their value with a BROWN BERET. Boost the non-combat arms units up to Cat III level of respect and get rid of Cat IV derision from the Army entirely. To include the E4 and below harassment.
Again a little respect and brotherhood of arms embodied in a decent headgear can go a long way. A BROWN BERET would energize the entire Army into realizing that it truly is "somebody" from PVT on up--look at how Soldiers who get to wear the BLACK BERET at NTC perform; before they were disinterested, as OPFOR they are invincible. To win on the 21st Century battlefield you need EVERY SOLDIER'S "head in the game" and to get this we need a professional Army where they have a stake in it and feel a part of it AND THEIR FULL THINKING, SEEING PARTICIPATION is valued not be treated like underling draftees. WWII is long over yet we still treat our men like draftees without a brain and we wonder why we can't fill recruiting quotas despite generous bribes?
In the 1930s, Mechanized-Infantry was seen by future strategists as the ELITE arm to win wars. In the first part of World War II, mechanized-infantry were unstoppable. Later in the war Patton's mechanized-infantry freed Europe. In Israeli, the Golani mechanized-infantry brigade wears a BROWN BERET TODAY. In many NATO countries Light Infantry units are elite and wear berets. Units that are elite wear berets and have proven to fight harder than anyone else. We should view our Mechanized and Light Infantry in the same way.
The BROWN BERET will save the Army money. Instead of the "Dunce" cap and one BDU Patrol Cap, we issue a BROWN BERET to Combat Arms Soldiers. That's one cap replacing two. Everyone wears a tan flash, representing all Combat Arms, and the Soldier places his metal unit crest in the center. Do the math. One beret that raises morale, fills recruiting quotas, energizes an Army and replaces the cost of two, is priceless. The current manufacturer of the beret for the Army already has BROWN BERETs available today.
If we are serious about fully manning our Army, and making the Army value of "respect" a reality and not just an ornament on our keychain, then it is time to get rid of the "dunce" cap and give all Combat Arms Soldiers the respect they deserve for being in harms ways: the BROWN BERET.
And all of the recruiters who are Airborne, Ranger or SF should be allowed to wear the beret they have earned, so America's youth can see the Army in the best light. The more we bribe people to join the Army and minimize the warrior aspect, the less respect they have for us, let's not be afraid of WHO WE ARE: WARRIORS.
In fact, even the Generals that have to wear the silly thing are not plussed about it, consider General Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff's position:
We propose that the U.S. Army authorize a BROWN BERET for all its combat arms units (infantry, armor, artillery, combat engineers, air defense artillery) that attain a C-1 combat rating to show the world that they are elite Soldiers ready to fight first. Or to all combat arms MOS Soldiers when they finish Recruit/Advanced Individual Training (AIT). They would wear a flash in their branch color, infantry light blue etc.
The fact that these units must attain a C-1 combat readiness rating would work incredible wonders by every Soldier in the Combat Arms Division. It would unleash incredible powers of Soldier initiative, over-coming even budgetary woes. By issuing a brown beret, the Army would save $$millions of dollars because it wouldn't have to buy garrison caps or 1 patrol cap for each combat arms Soldier since the brown beret can be worn with BOTH the BDU and Class "A" uniforms.
Bancroft of Cabot, Arkansas already makes BROWN berets in accordance with U.S. military Specification A-A-55184, for less than each!
The other option would be to award the brown beret after graduating Advanced Individual Training (AIT), which would help retention as a boost to morale at a point where our newest Soldiers could use it. Today's Soldiers have their drill sergeants follow them on to AIT and thus get no break; even the over-vaunted marines stop treating their men like recruits after basic.
Israeli Soldiers with berets (no zero sum thinking there!)
Maroon = Paratroop Brigade, Purple = Givati (amphibious Brigade), Brown beret = Golani infantry Brigade
These are some of America's finest Soldiers and they deserve the honor of a brown beret. Such a limited opportunity dependant upon C-1 combat readiness would not dimish the image of Soldiers now wearing the Green, Maroon and Black berets because these troops have their jump wings, oval backings and Airborne, SF and Ranger tabs that set them apart, not to mention their distinctive colors. The Israeli Defense Forces' legendary Golani Brigade is a mech-infantry force that is very "high speed" and "elite" that wears brown berets. Recruiters that are Airborne, Ranger, SF or combat arms MOS qualified should be able to wear their respective berets when representing the U.S. Army to America's young people so they choose an organization that not only looks good, but IS GOOD.
"A rising tide lifts all boats".
By Henry Cuningham
Military editor, Fayetteville Observer-Times
TAMPA, Fla -- People who had only seen Gen. Hugh Shelton when he was assigned to Airborne and Special Operations units got a different look at the general on Wednesday. After wearing berets and jaunty black jump boots for the past six years, there stood Shelton in -- gasp! -- a garrison cap and straight-legged pants.
Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, congratulates U.S. Special Operations Command's new commander, Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker, during a welcoming ceremony Wednesday at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. Schoomaker was the Special Operations commander at Ft. Bragg. AP photo
Shelton wore a maroon beret when he was a commander in the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg. He donned the green beret that he earned as a young officer when he took command of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base.
But last month he became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. And in the words of one of Shelton's spokesmen at the Joint Staff, his beret days are over. The Pentagon is just not an airborne outfit.
Shelton did not complain publicly about his attire during the ceremony at which he helped welcome his successor at MacDill, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker.
But there were hints of nostalgia in his remarks.
"It's great to be back in Tampa," Shelton said. "Some of you have served in Washington, and so you know exactly how I feel."
Shelton framed his nostalgia for bygone days in terms of two professional football teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Washington Redskins.
"I was thinking on my way down here today that when I left, the Bucs were undefeated," Shelton said. "As soon as I left, they lost three in a row. Now that you mention it, the Redskins started losing as soon as I arrived. Seems to me I could move back to Tampa and do both cities a favor."
Schoomaker said he knows his boss misses the old days.
"I know things are very pressing in Washington," Schoomaker said. "I also know how badly you wanted to get down here, too."
U.S. Army to wear black berets October 17, 2000
Web posted at: 5:17 PM EDT (2117 GMT)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A black beret will become the standard headgear of the U.S. Army starting next year, replacing traditional green hats, the Army Chief of Staff announced Tuesday.
Gen. Eric Shinseki said the new headgear, to be introduced in June next year, would be a symbol of the Army's transformation into a new, lighter, more nimble force for the 21st century.
"It will be a symbol of unity, a symbol of Army excellence, a symbol of our values," he told the annual convention of the Association of the United States Army, a professional support group.
Shinseki said Special Operations and Airborne units would retain their own distinctive berets, green for Special Forces and maroon for Paratroopers.
U.S. Army Rangers, trained to operate behind enemy lines, adopted the black beret in the 1980s.
Currently the standard government issue is an Army-green cap which folds flat and is dubbed an "envelope" cap by troops.
Shinseki said he wanted the entire Army to capture the esprit de corps of the elite units by donning berets.
Wearing berets will be "another step towards achieving the capabilities of the Objective Force," Shinseki said, refering to the high-tech Army of the future he hopes to launch.
"It is time for the entire Army to accept the challenge of excellence that has so long been a hallmark of our Special Operations and Airborne units," he said. "When we wear the black beret, it will say that we, the Soldiers of the world's best Army, are committed to making ourselves even better."
E-mail 1st TSG (A)
A U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel writes:
"I too feel that the combat arms Soldiers in the Army should be allowed to wear some manner of distinctive headgear. Whether it is a brown beret or what is of secondary importance to me since I would leave that fight up to the folks who are better able to call on history and such to make the choice an informed one.
Agree that the current cap makes us look like a bunch of ragbags when it is not necessary.The linkage to readiness levels is too hard, as everyone would have to have two sets of headgear to wear when a unit, heaven forbid, did not maintain whatever standard was to earn the right to have its personnel wear the hats.
I enjoyed your presentation."
A British Paratrooper writes:
"I spent six years in the British Army's Parachute Regiment and wore the maroon beret with pride. The beret is not the final word however, after all, man maketh the beret, the beret doe's not make the man. In the British Army as with just about all other European forces everyone wears a beret!. In the British Army elite tend to look down their noses at those who are not Para or Commando trained just the same as some do in the U.S. Army. The big difference in the British military is the high level of espirt des corps found even in combat support and combat service type units. This is largely due to the regimental system, every Soldier is proud of their unit. This type of overall high espirit des corps seems to exist in the U.S. marines, yet none of them wear berets or for that matter a fraction of the special skill badges that the Army has. My point is, a beret is just a hat nothing more. Allowing everyone to wear one in the U.S. Army will piss a lot of Airborne, Ranger and Special Forces types off in the short run, the long term effects of raising the status of the entire U.S. Army can only benefit. The U.S. Army is a team, and since a team relies on all members performing their jobs to the best of their abilities, often under difficult and dangerous conditions, its time to eliminate the notion of the second-class Soldier.
OVER AND OUT"
A Combat Engineer writes:
"Thank you for your response. I would be happy to share my opinion on the black beret becoming standard issue headgear.
Personally, I look forward to wearing the beret. I remember seeing German and Canadian tankers wearing berets and I thought they looked very professional. It gave them a smart appearance and, most importantly, they knew it! Though this may sound silly, but it seems to me that just as a school kid who buys a pair of 0 Nike sneakers believes he will be the best on the basketball court, those NATO Soldiers felt they were the best Soldiers on the field, though we often proved them otherwise ;).
I believe a strong point for the beret is its use as a recruiting tool. It may convince potential recruits to join the Army. Lets face it, young men and women are fashion conscious and a smart looking beret may be what it takes to persuade them to go army.
But, I also feel that Rangers are unenthusiastic with the idea. Their distinctive black beret will quickly lose its distinctiveness. Given the Rangers affinity with the black beret, I think your idea of a brown beret would be a better alternative. If the Army leadership wants to incorporate berets as part of the uniform, they should take the Ranger distinguished history and tradition into consideration. Unfortunately, Soldiers do make the decision to be Ranger, Special Forces or Airborne, because they earned the right to wear a distinctive beret. The black beret will, in time, lose its inherent meaning of a Soldier being a part of an elite group.
To the credit of the marine corps, they have attached special meaning to their uniform without any fancy headgear to distinguish elite groups. [Editor: instead they across-the-board mediocrity shrouded by a false feeling of being elite] Therefore, a cook feels he is apart of an elite group and looks sharp in his uniform, as much as marine recon Soldiers do. Another point, the British takes care to retain each Army regiments special identity via their uniform badges and heraldry. I recall many National Guard Soldiers were (and still are) upset when 26th Yankee Division disbanded and they lost the honor of wearing the famed "YD" patch. They felt they had lost a tie with those brave Citizen-Soldiers before them. Whenever the "YD" went to Fort Drum, New York to train, the resident 10th Mountain Division would happily welcome them for they knew that "YD" Soldiers had a reputation for being professional "Citizen-Soldiers" respectful of their base. The leadership should take care to provide a strong basis for making black berets a part of the uniform. When a young soldier dons the beret, he should be consciously aware that he embodies the spirit of those brave Soldiers before him and that he is entrusted with continuing that fine tradition.
I hope the Army leadership does not look at the uniform as a fashion "do or don't"; subject to the whims of fashion or only as a recruitment tool.
Lets all make the beret, whatever color it is, embody the best of what the U.S. Army is all about. I don't want to end up on the TV show "Fashion Emergency" everytime spring, summer and fall fashion season comes around!"
A Paratrooper who is Mountain warfare qualified writes:
"You have a great website! I love the content.
When I heard the announcement last week, I immediately got enraged. At first, I thought it was another gimmick by the people in the five sided puzzle palace which will start us down the slippery slope of having an Army which will resemble in appearance a European force. Our Army is not the UK, Canada, Germany, etc and it should stay that way. America does things for a purpose, not for senseless pageantry (like the ridiculous goose-step march or the plumes of feathers on dress covers). I started reading some of the excellent comments on your site, however, and started to change my mind.
I was in an LRS unit and was on jump status. We were the only ones in the division who wore berets (and the only ones who jumped out of airplanes), so it felt good to be recognized for the extra danger you undertook compared to the Treadheads or REMFs. Not only is the actual insertion dangerous, but so is entire job of going behind enemy lines with only a pea-shooter and a radio, so the beret was a good mark of honor. Not just anyone is excepted into LRS.
That being said, there are plenty of other dangerous jobs in the Army such as, Cav Scout, Lightfighter, Tanker, Scout/Attack Helos, and yes, even the Treadhead Infantry, so they should be recognized as well. I think the move to replace the ugly cnt cap is a move in the right direction and looking at the facts, brown is the way to go. The black beret is the Ranger's and it should stay that way.
We need to bring basic/AIT back to the challenge it used to be so that the young troops earn it, not just buy it at the PX. My old squad leader thinks the new beret flash should be a stress card. I think we need to look at ways to make everyone feel/think like warriors again (separating basic by gender is a good place to start, lengthening IET to focus on warrior training would also be good). Lastly, anything you do for the whole Army won't matter a damn if REMFs get the same privilege of wearing a brown beret as a guy in combat arms without having some sort of differentiation. Make them go through a "crucible" or something before they can put it on.
One other comment regarding your posted email about the 10th Mountain and the gray beret: the 10th Mountain Division (Light) does not wear the gray beret on Drum. I think that Soldier was referring to a real Mountaineer from the 3/172IN (Mountain). That is pretty unofficial there and is not a DA approved cover. However, it definitely should be. First, Mountain School at Camp Ethan Allen, VT is much more difficult than Airborne School (as Airborne is now, not in the 60s). It is longer and you have to go back twice (2 weeks summer and 2 weeks winter), it is more technically and physically demanding, and you can just as easily freeze to death or fall off of a big cliff of ice (I saw that happen to a guy in my class) as you can get hung up in a chute. When you graduate, you get the Ram's Head Device (again, not DA approved) and go back to your unit like Pathfinder or Air Assault or any other Army school. Second, If you serve in the battalion, you operate in the "vertical world" learning advanced mountaineering at the same time striving to be a good Lightfighter. I submit that it is more difficult than being in an Airborne unit because jumping is only a means of insertion, not of moving, attacking, defending, etc. where you must practice this skill all of the time. Ask any 10th Mountain veteran from the Italy campaign in WWII and see if they are not as every bit as elite and tough as the "Devils in Baggy Pants". The 3/172nd IN (Mountain) draws its lineage from those brave Soldiers, not from the modern day 10th "Mountain" (even though they train together). There is so much more to learn to be a Mountaineer than a Paratrooper, it will make your head spin. See how tough it is to fall from an airplane vs. humping a 100 lb. ruck up a steep Alpine slope where the air is thin and sears your lungs. Yes, the Ram's Head needs to be DA approved for anyone who graduates the school and the gray beret and bloused "chips" need to be authorized for the battalion. They earn it every time they go to the field and do a multi-pitch assent (where one wrong not or misstep will end your life), sleep in snow caves at -60F or negotiate dangerous crevasses, at the same time you are fighting the enemy.
Ascend to Victory!"
REPLY: We agree 100%. We're forwarding your good ideas to HQDA, keep your fingers crossed!
An Infantry LTC writes:
"I remember the 'beret' era of General Rogers twenty years ago, and we might end up like the Air Force, but you do have some good points. The Airborne and Ranger community then fiercely protected it's beret status, and also the Green Berets of course then.
Form and function are a balance.
I would certainly agree if you're an Airborne qualified as a recruiter, WEAR the things you've earned - jump boots and beret Is a great thing to be proud of. The beret issue gets lots of senior naysayers very agitated, but there are morale benefits. The beret thing was brought up during "hollow army" days for recruiting and retention reasons then, and I hope to God We're not on that dark path again. The problem is, that even more so in a politically correct posture, EVERY MOS and branch will want a beret, yellow, tuity-fruity, muave, PINK (yeah, I know), etc. We'll be the Rainbow Coalition of Diversity unless something says AN ARMY IS ABOUT COMBAT, NOT GETTING THE GI BILL, and WARRIORS who grunt, slop, sweat are recognized by a simple beret, while support troops do force protection and handle ammo at ammo dumps, etc.
It's hard to tell split hairs about this between grunting 11M and 77F sweating fueler. Deeds, not words, get the Soldier the right to wear his or her beret, and as a leg, I gladly give that distinction to Airborne, Ranger and SF troopers as my respect."
An infantry Soldier writes about Army uniforms:
"The dress uniforms specifically. Woodland cammie aint the best, but it works, with regards to the BDU's. The Pattern for the BDU's is also pretty good, could be better, but the price per head would shoot up. Nope, it's the dress uniforms I'm bitching about. Dinner dress blues are ok, but Class A's/B's need to go. And the Garrison cap must die a well-deserved death...."
Another Soldier writes:
"Well, personally, I would favor the 'British Army' approach to uniforms. Each type of unit in the Combat Arms (including MP and CE) would have a slight variation on the pattern. For Light Infantry, try Green(a nice green, not the current one) Tunic, in the Marine/Naval pattern. Black trousers with green vertical stripe. And a Beret, or flat-hat. Die, garrison cap, die.........
ARMY: bring back the Pageantry, I say."
An Army NCO writes:
"When I was going through PSYOP training (Psychological Operations) one of the instructors came in one day wearing a gray beret saying they were coming out with a gray beret for Psyops, we were stoked until we found out he was pulling our leg."
As you can see, the feelings from Soldiers throughout the ranks are in favor of a better headgear than the atrocious garrison cap. The combat arms Brown Beret would do wonders for the morale of U.S. Army heavy combat arms units often being sent into harm's way first before the other services and sometimes even our own contingency light forces. Money would be saved by not having to issue the awful looking garrison cap since the beret can be worn with both the BDUs and the Class "A" dress uniform. If you would like to see an Army brown beret instead of the atrocious looking garrison cap, email the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army,
General Eric Shinseki in '99 now General Casey at:
Pentagon Room 3E668
Washington D.C. 20310
Click envelope to e-mail General Shinseki.
Or contact your major command (MACOM) so the Department of Heraldry can make the U.S. Army Brown Beret a reality.
If you wish to submit a suggestion, please send it on a DA Form 2028 to the following address:
300 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0300
Visit the Army uniform webpage at:
MSG Kittie L. Messman
HQDA Uniform Policy
Ft. Belvoir, Va
COM (703) 695-6361
FAX: DSN 223-0212 COM (703) 693-0212
Editor: The following is a VERY interesting letter from a former Paratrooper who obviously believes in ZERO SUM thinking, for someone to "win" someone ELSE has to LOSE. This cynical attitude is prevalent today in our youth who think in "THEM" and "US" terms.
"I have just a couple comments about that.
First off. The Beret is a unit designated object of dress. I spent 4 years wearing a maroon one that I earned as a jump qualified member of the 82nd. My wife wore one for 2 years that she did not earn, as a member of the 44th Med Bde. But as that unit fell under 18th ABN command, and all Ft. Bragg resident units were under orders to wear the beret and boots.....it really made me mad. She was not Airborne...was not anything near "elite" in her job, but she wore one non-the-less. The point is, the beret is a unit issue, and does not serve a moral boost to those who know that they do not disserve it.
Second. Didn't the Army try this Beret for everyone thing in the mid-80's....and did it not fail? The problem is that not everyone can be elite. I was because of the job I performed, and the circumstances under which I performed it, not because I wore a beret. It was the wings on my chest that made me elite. Not the beret. When you hand something out to everyone you lessen its value. When you are stationed on Ft. Bragg where there are 40,000 troops wearing the same color, and style of head gear, you really stop feeling special. And it just irritates you to know that 20,000 of those troops are not Airborne...which is the very thing that the maroon beret was suppose to symbolize. Issuing a brown one to all combat troops would do the same thing. It would reduce its value to that of a patrol cap.
One more thing....since we are on the subject. I believe that the Beret is a mark of honor earned by the unit.....not just the personnel. You are a respected Paratrooper not because of your abilities...but of the lineage of your unit. You are a respected Ranger because of the lineage of the 75th....not because of your individual value. When I looked at a Ranger, I never saw the man (even though I knew quite a few), I saw the unit. When I see a Paratrooper on TV now...I see a man who has proven that he belongs in the unit....not a man who the unit should be grateful to have. Units are elite not Soldiers. The world fears the 82nd because they maintain the power of an Airborne unit. The world fears the 75th Rangers because of what it means to be a Ranger....not because someone said hey....give them a Beret. The 3rd ID is not feared because they are elite....they are not feared because they are mech....they are simply feared as an American fighting force, which makes them better than the average...but not as good as the best. It is a fact.
Giving out Berets will not raise moral...and it will not increase the rate of retention. It might lead to a temporary euphoria among the Soldiers of get them....but that will be short living....because they are constantly reminded that they are not Paratroopers.
Here is a little story. When I was a member of the 82nd, I was supposed to go to the summer Olymbics in Atlanta with about 100 other Paratroopers to assist in Transportation. But, it seemed that FORSCOM did not want to have 100 elite Paratroopers displaying there special maroon berets...and it was decided that we would not be allowed to where jump boots or berets. Upon getting this news...our Commanding General decided that if they did not want us in our standard unit form, then they would not have us at all. This was a decision that we all understood and whole heartidly agreed with. See.....the army as a whole does not like us. They fear us. They are jealous of us. We remind them of how inadequate they are. We are special. And they can't forgive us for the elite performance of our units in the past. The 101st is still allowed to display the AIRBORNE tab even though they are not, and have not been Airborne since the end of the Vietnam war...but it is out of respect that they are allowed to wear the tab. Giving little brown berets out to all of the combat arms troops will not help....it will only hurt."
82nd ABN 94'-98'
look at your comments. Brown berets are for Combat Arms UNITS.
Next you say, the jump wings make you elite, not the beret, so why would Combat Arms Brown Berets bother you?
So let me see, driving a BFV at 30-40 mph in the dark cross-country in formation, with 6-7 infantry huddled in the back is not dangerous? I also think the men in the 101st deserve to be thought as elite because they risk a fiery death in a helicopter not because its that risky sitting your butt on a seat in helicopter.
Look, Son I have done BOTH. Airborne will have maroon berets and jump wings. Mech infantry will not be "given" anything. If I felt like you, I would simply make the 3 week jump school part of ALL Army Soldier training, and make the entire Army Airborne-qualified. I don't feel like you, but I am in favor of EVERY Soldier going through jump school. That way, noone would have to feel like they were anything but the BEST.
The value of anything is not dependant upon how much macho risk is involved.
I think Airborne warfare and parachuting is the future of warfare. But I DO NOT subscribe to being a snob. Airborne snobs have done so much damage to the Airborne, few people want to supply them with a light tank. Don't be a snob. Be happy you are a Paratrooper, and humble that you were allowed to jump from airplanes into battle.
HIS REPLY TO MY REPLY!
"Hang on there,
The Army is dangerous. Very dangerous. Just being there is dangerous, no matter what job you do. I have seen people killed ground guiding 5-tons in the motor pool. I have been shot at doing PT. But, there are different jobs, that add to the level and increase your chances of death simply in training. Personnel in Airborne units have just as much a chance of being run over by a duece, as mech guys have of being run over by a Bradley. They also travel in Blackhawks around the battlefield (been there and done that with the artillery hanging by the hook), just as the Air-Assault units do. But there is one big difference.....ontop of all that, they jump out of airplanes to go to work. And you don't always have a nice PLF in sand...sometimes there are concrete runways to break your fall. This is an extra additive to the job. There is also the attitude of being Airborne. There is the feeling that you are doing something that very few people are apart of. Its not just the airplanes.
Those things said.....back to the Brown Beret. Hey, I am a civilian now, so I really don't have much of a say, other than I know by experience it won't change a thing, and will cause more issues than solve. Follow me on this one: You hand out Brown beenies to all the Combat Arms troops, of which there is about 30% of the total force. Then next thing you know, cooks will want them, dentist will want them, etc. You get the idea. What one more beret will do, is once again show everyone who doesn't have one, that there is something wrong with them. That they are not special.
Now, I am not one of elitist mind. I know I am not better than a cook....just different. I don't think that I am better than any soldier. Because I know everyone has a job to do for the good of the Army. But, I also understand that there are some distinguishing things about certain units. Now, in the 82nd...even the cooks wear the maroon beret...and they must be Airborne qualified. Less than 4% of the entire division can be off of jump status (that number is almost entirely made up medical profiles). I know that in the 75th Rangers, every member does the same job as a Ranger and all members wear the black beret. On the SF groups are different in the fact that SF qualifed people, more importantly those on an operational team, wear the green berets, all support staff wear the maroon. These units are different, but all of the members of the unit wear the same type of headgear, because they earned them by their position with the unit.
There is already an item of the uniform to seperate the different branches of the military.....branch cordes. Yet, I have only seen the baby blue infantry corde worn. Even those each branch has a distintive color. See, the entire time I was in the Artillery branch of the army, I was constantly reminded of my second class citizenship by the infantry. Did you know that there is an "Expert Artilleryman Badge"? But noone is allowed to wear it. Did you also know that there is a "Combat Artilleryman Badge", but noone can wear it either. I was not allowed to wear red branch corde either. There is already a system in place to recognize Soldiers for the individual dangers that they have signed up for. But this system is largley ignored...and not allowed to be utilized.
That being said, adding yet another uniform system to recognize the dangers of units and Soldiers is a waste of time. I have nothing against infantry, cavalry, or any other branch because I know it is a team effort. But there is always that guy on the team everyone wants to be, but can't, or better yet, haven't tried to be. There are just some units that perform missions above that of others. They are just as good, but they are different. Some people are just different. It is okay. If the Army made everyone the same, then there would be no need for berets. It is okay to have some units that are different, and because of this, they can be set apart from the whole. It was a running joke that personnel in the 82nd were not in the army....they were in the 82nd Airborne, another place entirely. That attitude can not be taken away, just because you give all combat arms troops a beret.
In the Navy, the Seal Teams are only allowed a badge to distinguish themselves, and yet they are different, and by that the most elite. They are not better men, just different. Men willing to something noone else is. Yet, the Navy, who is concerned with showing elitism, turned down there request for the black beret after the Vietnam war. But that did not change anything. The feelings are still there.
My feelings are simple, the problem is not the beret, its the system. Its the Soldiers themselves who are not centered in their own abilities. It is not the snobs in the Airborne community (although I am aware that they are there). It is those outside that community who feel inferior. Not that they are, but they think they are, for some strange reason. I have been to other facilities....I have actually dined at a 3rd ID mess hall, and have seen the look that the mech guys gave us. They felt something that I had nothing to do with. It is there problem, and it is their issue to deal with.
The 10th Mountain (a fine outfit), to my knowledge still wear the grey beret at their home facility at Drum. Perhaps we should ask them if they feel better about themselves cause they have it on, or if they feel better about themselves because its say "Mountain" over their crossed bayonets? I witnessed a 10th Mnt. Soldier being dressed down by an SF Col. coming out of a PX once because the 10th Mtn Soldier mistakenly put the grey beret on at Bragg. Perhaps he really feels inferior now?
The facts are, not everyone is alike. Not everyone has the same job. The beret issue is not new. It goes all the way back to Col. Yarborough and the SF groups in the 60s. It will not stop now, and probably not at all until they remove it from all the heads in the Army. That would be a shame, as I think it serves a good bit for the army in the way of goals. People look towards the "Special" units and want to be like them. That is all. But some people are so jealous that no amount of recognition for their abilites will ever change the way they feel."
MY REPLY TO HIS REPLY TO MY REPLY:
Why not allow the Combat arms units that are not Airborne to develop their own elite mentalities akin to jumping out of airplanes, except its driving in a tracked vehicle with NVDs etc etc Why would they having a Brown beret threaten the Airborne?
In the Israeli Army, they have Brown berets for Mech infantry. Watch this. Noone looks on them as being as elite as the Red beret Paratroopers BUT they are still looked on as ELITE Mech infantry. This is a big differance to what we have now in the U.S. Army. The Mech infantry is not considered ELITE AT ALL. I was not aware of the 10th Mountain division wearing Gray berets, but I would authorize it immediately to be worn ALL THE TIME PERIOD not just at Fort Drum. And I would make the 10th MD a true Mountain warfare division by them going to MWS and earning a Mountain warfare Ram's head badge, too.
Next you raise the issue of colored cords and badges for CLASS "A" uniforms. You do not wear the class "A" uniform enough to affect morale, it has to be on the BDU to count what you wear everday. The brown beret could be worn on the BDUs and the class "A" uniform. Whatever cords you wear on the class "A" goes to shit when you put the garrison "dunce cap" on. You look like a fool and a conehead.
Why should my men feel and then ACT accordingly less HOOAH! because they are not in an Airborne unit? Man, WE NEED ALL THEIR ENTHUSIASM and skills to be successful, but we can't get it because the minute they start acting like a Paratrooper when they are not let's say, they get beaten down by some asshole who is. The Ranger tab is another example. Its like if you don't have a Ranger tab you are not expected to know how to walk in the friggin woods with a ruck on your back, rifle in your hand and land navigate? Just because you didn't attend a 58-61 day harassment package at some distant point in time? I can't dismounted patrol with authority because I'm not a Ranger school graduate? What was I doing for 9 years in the marines? Same rucksack, same rifle, same woods. Things are things. And its high time we get out of this badge mentality that unless you wear a merit badge or hold a certain rank that you are "not worthy" and cannot be a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on an issue. You get to be a SME by working/studying the issue, not because years ago you went to a school. For example Army Airborne school training DOES NOT represent the state-of-the-art in military parachuting. Our Airborne is stuck in a 1940s "seize and hold" time warp. This entire web site goes into detail on this in web page after web page.
A badge is a convenient help in identifying a person's abilities/raining, I like them. But we are damning ourselves when we limit our freedom of action to some kind of perverse pecking order of who is and is not this or that. If when we all joined the Army and we then were given the path to be ALL that we could be, in other words, go to every warrior school out there, and then only so many graduated then NOT having a badge would mean that person couldn't do that task. But the truth is you join the Army and your opportunities to even ATTEND these schools is SEVERELY limited. You simply do not get to go, yet you get to receive constant shit from people that you are not the "this or that" label that comes from that school when you simply perform to Army standards and a little more. We have let these badges become the go/no go authorizatiions for good Soldiering, you should not have to have a damn badge to be a tactically proficient f---g stud-knows-the battlefield-warrior, especially when you live in an environment, an Army---that will not let you go to the damn schools even for no pay (!!!!!) to get the necessary badges to signal others around you to let you be the professional that you are, to act on what you know how to do.
No, the cooks will not be able to justify a beret if they ask for it. Combat Arms can justify it by their missions of closing with the enemy in combat. The casualty stats from our wars prove this. Non-Airborne units are in dangerous fields that should set them apart from the rear area folks, and are worthy of a beret in a DIFFERENT COLOR than the Airborne.
A good, thoughtful letter, though on the whole. We are getting forward progress here on this issue!
HIS REPLY TO MY REPLY TO HIS REPLY
"The Ranger tab is another example. Its like if you don't have a Ranger tab you are not expected to know how to walk in the friggin woods with a ruck on your back, rifle in your hand and land navigate? Just because you didn't attend a 61 day harassment package at some distant point in time? I can't dismounted patrol with authority because I'm not a Ranger school graduate?"
That was funny. And I really agree. I also agree that up-lifting morale is always a good plan. I am not against the "Brown Beret", I am against trying something like that which has the potential to leave someone else further down the pecking order.
You got me thinking with this....even past my initial reaction. Hell, I spent most of my day running this thorugh my head. The way I see it the head gear is not really the main issue. And I kinda ran the beret thing through three points:
1. The uniform. I whole heartedly agree that is bites. The only thing that made the green leisure suit bearable for me was the beret and jump boots. If I had to wear the garrison cap and low quarters for more than the 2 times I did, I would probably had gone nuts. The beret made the difference in the uniform. Change the entire picture. On this point, my first priority (if I had any say so...which I don't or ever did with my E-4 action happenin), would be to give all Soldiers a better uniform. Something tastefully military, but something that makes them look good. The head gear would need to be something flashy for everyone.
2. The financial load. This is interesting to see listed on the site. It seems that I only wore my beret in garrison duty anyway. We were not allowed to even wear patrol caps in the field, we had to wear our Kevlar. My beret spent more time in my left cargo pocket than on my head, so it really did not replace anything, it was just worn when I was not in the woods or inside. The Brown beret would not replace the patrol cap, as very few units are "authorized" to wear it. The only unit I knew of in the 82nd that could wear something other than a Kevlar in the field were the infantry scout platoons attached to battalion, and they wore boonies. The cost is so neglible that I don't really think it would sway those with their fingers in the budget cookie jar. You would still see recruits issued two patrol caps and two garrion caps. They would then be issued their first beret by their gaining units.
3. Unit respect and morale. I must be honest, this is the one that gets me. I just don't think that a beret is gonna make someone feel that much better about themselves. The "Elitism" in the Army is do thick and traditional that I am not too sure that a new piece of head gear will change it. And worse I think it will increase the size of the elite pyramid. The beret in American military culture is unfortunately tied to that term....elite. With so few authorized to wear it everywhere they go...and as a piece of the unit uniform, it stands out.
I remember when I was in AIT, there were some prior service guys from Bragg, and ofcourse they were wearing those awe-inspiring berets. The majority of people around us were just mesmerized (sp), I mean like deer in the headlights shit. Now, if everyone was wearing a brown beret, I think the effect would not have been much different. I witnessed the same thing from the otherside (with beret vs. without), once doing some training at Ft. Stewart. Me and a unit-mate went into a px on post and the place was full of 3rd ID guys, they had the same deer in headlights look. But I noticed that it was not just the beret...it was the double-A patch with tab, wings, the whole thing. I know that we were really not that much better than those guys....just different, but I am not so sure they knew that.
I really see that the military as a whole must do somethings to recognize the value of all of the combat units in the army, but I think that the idea of sugar coating it is wrong. You asked me if I knew what "Zero Sum thinking was", and if I knew what it does to the person who hold it? Well, I know it can't be that bad, specially how most of us over the age of 18 grew up with it. I am not sure about most others but when I went to school some people made A's and some people made F's. In little league someone wins and someone loses. The important lesson though, as I grew up, was that I had the power to change that. If I worked really hard I could make A's, and I could be a winner. I recently saw a thing on TV about a little league soccer association that doesn't have winners or losers. All participants get the same trophy. I believe that is the wrong message to give to kids. Because in real life...and espcially life as a warrior...there is no second place. That needs to be fostered in a good way. Soldiers need to know that. The national command authority needs to know who has made that commitment....the one that says I WILL not quit until I am dead or the mission is over. The one that says you can count on me to get the job done because I am the one you volunteered for the toughest shit you have so I could prove to you I wanted the job. We need the units that can be counted on to perform above the standard no matter what the mission. The Soldiers who joined to be warriors....not for the college money.
Right now we, as a country, have a real problem with the military. Recuiting has fallen way short of the goals....much less the requirements. And retention is terrible. If this brown beret will help that...I am all for it....but if it just creates a larger seperation between those that have gone that extra mile, and those that aren't willing too. Or if it makes those who believe themselves not able, and thus feel even more inferior, then I am totally against it. For some reason, not sure why, I would be in favor of taking away berets before I added more.
One more thing. If this brown beret was to be added...it should apply to the entire unit, not just to Combat MOS personnel. You must admit that it is a team effort. And that no unit, not even a heavy mech infantry division can win without the total effort of all of its personnel.
PS. Thanks for the very interesting discussion....I am really enjoying it."
SOME MORE EXCELLENT IDEAS!!!
"The old beret argument.
I agree with renaming some branches to give them a more "combat" sound but, I think the "brown beret" has to be thought out more. The idea put forward of elite units is nice but the over all mission of the military is to get maximum performance out of evey unit. So if I was the President with a Congress that backed me (and interns that looked like...wait a minute different site)
I would make the following uniform changes:
The BDUs would be a TA-50 issue making it a combat uniform again.
Name tapes and unit patches that is all that would be authrised. I would bring back an OG fatigue uniform with black and gold U.S. Army and the white name tape. This uniform would have full color patches.
I would change the Rangers beret to it's prerevolution colors and cut.
Armour and Cav would go with the black beret with CAV having a black Hardee type hat for class A/B wear.
82nd can keep it's maroon beret (even though the MPs first wore it in WWII)but, only combat arms units could wear it and get jump pay.
I would retire the M-43 cap (BDU cap) and replace it with a boonie type hat(if it is so cold you have to bring the flaps down you need a pile cap or beanie.)
For combat units of the 101 and LRSD I would bring back a khaki WWII type garrison cap with para patch and branch piping. I would retire the AG uniform except for SF,Rangers, AB,LRSDs units. All others will go to dress blues which can button to the collar.
Rank and service stripes will be in branch color. khaki long and short sleeve shirts with black ties wi.
All combat MECH/Armour forces would have short jackets. All rank would be in branch colours, all branchs would wear the correct ropes. Like the Germans in WWII their should be branch combat badges (to replace combat patches, you are part of the unit you are in not a part of what you were.)
Plus a close combat badge.
As far as a beret/headgear for the Dragoons/Mounted Riflemen, I don't know in Europe everyone wears berets their like our garrison caps. I would be for Hardee hats but it has been my experince you get enough people to gether and somebody is gonna look stupid in it."
"I also agree with the Brown Beret idea. I am a civilian now, but I was once a Cav. Scout ( Recon ). I was in the time of service, sick of Rangers/Airborne who were allowed to wear a beret. We were often teased as "wanabee" Rangers. The Cav. Scout is an Elite Fighting Soldier. If you remember up 'till the late 70's Scouts still wore our Black Beret. It gave us alot of pride. Now it gives us as well as all combat Soldiers a stigma, yet name a Scout Plt. not currently in a reconnasence roll in the world theater. I belive a Brown Beret would give a lot of PRIDE to our servicemen currentlly guarding our Great Nation in hostile enviroments."
A Canadian writes:
"Cool. Someone in command who understands the troops! Uniforms speak!
Yes, I've read a fair bit lately about the "revolution" taking place -- the recognition of the need for speed, agility, and deployability. Surely Kosovo taught some lessons, guys like YOU deserve a good share of the credit! When you prove you can deploy anywhere FAST and skick the enemy, you'll find yourself with far fewer enemies.
But Caution: Be sure politics don't get in the way. There was lots of time to deploy M1s and M2s to Somalia, but it didn't happen. I humble advice is to include the politicians in your transformation process -- get them to a version of your travelling road show. Hell, if they think it is all THEIR idea, you'll get 5x the funding!
Good luck! Keep me posted! A lot of lives depend on this kind of work!
Just got back from Vermont and did some shooting with a Ranger from the 82nd (ret.) -- can't do these things in Canada.
Want Pvt Murphy in your pocket?
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