Black Berets In The U.S Army

- Apr 10, 2018 -

In 1973, permission was granted to local commanders to encourage distinctive, morale-enhancing uniform items and the black beret was adopted by armor and armored cavalry units in the United States.

A black beret was authorized for wear by female soldiers in 1975.

On January 30, 1975, it was officially assigned as part of the newly created battalions of United States Army Rangers who had worn it unofficially during the Vietnam War.

In 1979, the army chief of staff ruled that the black beret was restricted to just ranger and airborne units (the latter receiving their distinctive maroon berets on November 28, 1980). However, since June 14, 2001, the black beret is worn by all United States Army troops unless the soldier is approved to wear a different distinctive beret. The Rangers now wear tan berets in reverence to the buckskins worn by Rogers' Rangers during the French and Indian War.

The black beret is worn as part of the Army Service Uniform (ASU), the U.S. Army's dress uniform. It also became the official garrison headgear to be worn with the Battle Dress Uniform (BDUs) in 2001, and from 2005 the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). The change was implemented by General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff at the time, who stated that it was about promoting "...our values as an institution." From the beginning, the beret was unpopular with soldiers, because the headgear required two hands to put it on, could not be carried in the pocket when not worn (as the patrol cap could), and provided no shade from the sun when worn.

Despite years of negative feedback, the beret remained part of the ACU until 2011, when incoming Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler made it his first order of business to address the wishes "thousands of soldiers" who wanted the army to end the wear of the beret with the ACU, and the army subsequently did just that. The black beret remained the headgear for the ASU, but was replaced as the default headgear with the ACU patrol cap.


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