CSA SENDS - THE ARMY BLACK BERET
must change to maintain its relevance for the evolving strategic
environment. To provide our Nation strategic options for mastering
the complexity of that environment, The Army committed, in its
Vision a year ago, that "as technology allows, we will begin
to erase the distinctions between heavy and light forces." In
the United States Army, the beret has become a symbol of excellence
of our specialty units. Soldiers of the Special Forces, our
airborne units, and the Ranger Regiment have long demonstrated
such excellence through their legendary accomplishments and
unmatched capabilities. Their deployability, versatility, and
agility are due, in part, to their organizational structure
and equipment. But more significant is their adaptiveness,
which keeps them ready to take on any mission, anytime, anyplace.
distinctive emblem of these units is the wear of the beret.
But, over the past 50 years, berets have been worn by a variety
of Army formations--airborne, armor, cavalry, infantry, ranger,
special forces, and others. The black beret was being worn by
formations Army-wide, when it was approved by the Army for wear
by the Ranger Regiment in 1975. Today, it remains one of our
symbols of excellence in The Army as reflected by its wear in
the Ranger Regiment.
We are transforming
today's most powerful Army in the world from a Cold War Legacy
Force to an Objective Force with early entry capabilities that
can operate jointly, without access to fixed forward bases,
and still have the power to slug it out and win campaigns decisively
(Intent, June 1999). This Transformation will correct the condition
in today's Legacy Force where our heavy forces are too heavy,
and our light forces lack staying power. To master this strategic
transition and to establish the parameters for decisiveness
in the 21st century, The Army must become adaptive to be strategically
responsive and dominant across the entire spectrum of military
The Army's commitment to transforming itself into the Objective
Force, The Army will adopt the black beret for wear Army-wide.
It is not about increasing recruiting; we achieved our recruiting
target of 180,000 recruits last year--without a beret. It is
not about retention; for the second year in a row, we exceeded
our reenlistment goal by a wide margin--without a beret. It
is not about morale; Soldiers are ready today to go into harm's
way. It is about our excellence as Soldiers, our unity as a
force, and our values as an institution.
14 June 2001, the first Army birthday in the new millennium,
the black beret will become standard wear in The Army--Active
and Reserve Components. Sergeant Major of the Army Tilley will
lead the effort to craft implementing guidelines, including
indoctrination standards that all Soldiers will meet before
they are authorized to wear the beret. Special operations and
airborne units will retain their distinctive berets.
remain the centerpiece of our formation. We will march into
the next millennium as The Army--the strategic joint force of
choice for the 21st century.
A Short History of the Use of Berets in the U.S. Army
Beret. During World War II, US Army Special Forces personnel
wore a variety of headgear during their operations as members
of special operations units. Those who served with the Office
of Strategic Services (OSS) in Europe often adopted whatever
headgear their French or Belgian Resistance compatriots wore.
This was often a beret, since many of the OSS teams served
in France. The beret, worn in a variety of styles and colors,
showed even up on OSS personnel in the Far East. Many of the
first members of the US Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne),
formed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in June 1952, were veterans
of the OSS. Berets of various types and colors began being
worn unofficially as early as 1954 on the unit's field exercises
in Germany and at Fort Bragg and Camp Mackall, North Carolina.
The color green was favored because it was reminiscent of
the World War II British Commando-type beret that had been
adopted by the Commandos on 24 October 1942. After testing
in 1955, the 77th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort
Bragg specified, still unofficially, that its soldiers wear
a beret of Canadian Army design in rifle green. Special Forces
personnel in Europe in the 10th Special Forces Group (A) simultaneously
adopted a green beret, even wearing it publicly with the Army
class A uniform, despite the lack of official approval. Special
Forces troopers first wore the green beret publicly at Fort
Bragg during a retirement parade in 1955. In 1957, however,
the Fort Bragg post commander banned the wearing of the beret.
This ban was reversed on 25 September 1961 by DA Message 578636,
which authorized the green beret as the official Army headgear
to be worn by Special Forces. The first official wearing of
the newly authorized green beret was at a Special Forces demonstration
staged for President John F. Kennedy at Fort Bragg on 12 October
1961. President Kennedy was instrumental in the approval by
DA of the green beret for US Special Forces. Currently, all
Special Forces-qualified soldiers wear the green beret with
the authorized flash of their Special Forces Group.
Beret. The tradition of wearing black berets began with
armored units. In 1924 the British Royal Tank Regiment adopted
the first modern military beret, based on the Scottish highland
bonnet and French Bretonne beret. The regiment selected the
headgear for its practicality--brimless for use with armored
vehicle fire control sights and black to hide grease stains.
In the US Army, HQDA policy from 1973 through 1979 permitted
local commanders to encourage morale-enhancing distinctions,
and Armor and Armored Cavalry personnel wore black berets
as distinctive headgear until CSA Bernard W. Rogers banned
all such unofficial headgear in 1979. Rangers received authorization
through AR 670-5, Uniform and Insignia, 30 January 1975, to
wear black berets. Previously, locally authorized black berets
had been worn briefly by the 10th Ranger Company (Airborne),
45th Infantry Division, during the Korean War before their
movement to Korea; Company F (LRP), 52d Infantry, 1st Infantry
Division, in 1967 in the Republic of Vietnam; Company H (Ranger),
75th Infantry, 1st Cavalry Division, in 1970 in the Republic
of Vietnam; and Company N (Ranger), 75th Infantry, 173d Airborne
Brigade, in 1971 in the Republic of Vietnam.
Beret. The maroon beret has been the international symbol
of airborne forces since its selection for use by the British
Parachute Regiment in 1942. The color reportedly was chosen
by novelist Daphne Du Maurier, the wife of the British airborne
commander, MG Frederick Browning. In 1943 MG Browning granted
a battalion of the US Army's 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment
honorary membership in the British Parachute Regiment and
authorized them to wear British maroon berets. US Army advisers
to Vietnamese airborne forces wore the Vietnamese maroon beret
during the Vietnam War. In addition, after HQDA encouraged
the unofficial use of morale-enhancing headgear in 1973, airborne
forces chose to wear the maroon international parachute beret
until CSA Rogers' ban of all such unofficial headgear in 1979.
On 28 November 1980, however, HQDA revised its ban on berets
to authorize airborne organizations to wear the maroon beret.
Beret. While HQDA's morale-enhancing order was in force
from 1973 to 1979, there was a proliferation of berets, in
a rainbow of hues. In Alaska the 172d Infantry Brigade adopted
an olive or brown beret. Members of the brigades 1/60th Infantry
wore their brown beret with a light blue flash insignia. It
was soon dropped when the Army standardized headgear policy
in 1979 to limit beret wear to Special Forces, Airborne, and
|Thoughts of a Retired Ranger
My initial reaction
to the decision to make the black beret the offical headgear
of the Army was one of anger and disappointment. The 75th Ranger
Regiment and we of the post-Korean and Vietnam era who maintained
the high standards and qualities demanded of those who wear
the Ranger Tab had struggled for too long to be allowed to wear
the beret to have it now worn by just any soldier. In my mind
this was another one of those constant battles between the Unconventional
and the Conventional, between the Real Warriors (Rangers) and
the "others." It was clearly a "us" and "them" situation. The
same old game which I had seen played out time after time in
I decided that we
members of the United States Army Ranger Association needed
to band together and mount a massive campaign to get the decision
reversed. But then I began to think, what is a beret? It is
just a head covering and a rather poor one at that. It has no
bill on the front to keep the rain out of one's eyes, it certainly
will not keep one's ears warm, and it provides no shade from
the sun. So why am I upset about this decision?
I have come to realize I had elevated the black beret to a place
of virtual idolatory and in so doing I was missing the fact
that the beret is just a symbol which points to the reality
that we, the Rangers, are the elite of the Army. Always have
been and I expect always will be. As such it is our responsiblity
to do as our motto says and "lead the way." To not allow ourselves
to become mired in the old "us" vs. "them" games. Instead we
must work towards unifiying the whole Army, encouraging all
soldiers to strive to be as we are, The Best. Assisting at all
levels of command so that each and every soldier accepts the
fact that he or she is absolutely essential to the accomplishment
of the Army's mission . If the black beret can contribute to
the unification of the Army, then -- Rangers Lead the Way.
Richard G. Jones
Major USA Ret.
of my professors at an institute of higher learning was a retired
NCO. Strangely enough, I knew him from our active duty days as
Senior ROTC Instructors. He nearly walked me to death through
the hills of West Virginia one spring. He was a Special Forces
soldier, Vietnam veteran. He caused me to respect the people who
wear Green Berets.
his classes, he always stressed critical thinking. Critical thinking
means to literally tear apart an issue, study it, and weigh all
the impact of it. Look at it from all angles, dig into it. Determine
the impact of every piece of it by asking many questions and examining
all the available information. Only after you've done that are
you ready to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion
of the subject. It's the kind of thinking you'd expect a Special
Operations soldier to use when training, preparing for a mission
or evaluating a situation.
tried to apply those critical thinking lessons to this beret issue
that's consumed the Army and what it tells us about ourselves.
I've re-examined the Chief of Staff's comments and given some
thought to other important issues he raised. The first conclusion
I've drawn is that many of us - me included - owe the Chief of
Staff an apology, and the rest of the Army needs an Alpha Charlie.
This whole episode caused me to reflect on old saying - Little
things affect little minds.
Shinseki said at the AUSA annual meeting, "So let me
tell you my opinion of training at the battalion level and below.
This is where I see the heart of warfighting readiness.... unless
squads and platoons and companies can do what they need to do,
which is what I call short-sword warfighting... you're not ready....
Crews, squads, platoons, companies, battalions, this is where
Army readiness resides.... And sergeant's time training belongs
to the command sergeants major. Noncommissioned officers plan
it, they execute it, they evaluate it, and they decide whether
or not retraining is warranted....one day a week for five continuous
hours. The noncommissioned officer leadership has all of their
soldiers mandated to be present at training.... This is 100 percent
of your formation present for training. That's a challenge. But
one day a week is what I promised the Sergeant Major of the Army
I will guarantee to the command sergeants major."
it say about the state of the Army when the Chief of Staff must
direct the presence of all soldiers for five hours per week
of Sergeant's Time Training? It should suggest to you that somewhere
along the line leadership has failed or is failing in its most
important responsibility. Not the senior leadership that we
all like to beat up, but the unit leadership. The leadership
at brigade, battalion and company level. We've all registered
our complaints about such things as consideration of others
and endless taskings eating up valuable soldier training time.
But, when the Chief serves notice to the officer-ship of the
Army that he is correcting that problem, no one flooded the
Internet with excited e-mails. What does that tell you about
the state of the Army? What does it tell you about the state
of unit and NCO leadership?
Shinseki also said, "Our second responsibility: the
welfare of our soldiers. All soldiers are entitled to outstanding
leadership. Let's take that seriously. That means a commitment
to developing competent and compassionate, courageous leaders,
who can inspire and motivate, develop and lead soldiers, who
we then grow in our images. It starts with drill sergeants.
They show us what right looks like.... There is something that
happens between a drill sergeant and a young American that remains
with soldiers for the rest of their life.... It starts with
drill sergeants, and all of us need to carry that relationship
over, into the first unit assigned. We will give noncommissioned
officers and officers sufficient time in their developmental
leadership positions--platoon and company--so that they can
learn their jobs."
all seen and experienced the problems caused by ticket-punchers
filling leadership positions. Command Sergeants Major who barely
blinked at being First Sergeants and battalion commanders with
only 18 months previous command time as company commanders. Yet,
when the Chief tells us he aims to fix that, not one single hooah
filtered up from the background. What does that tell you about
the state of the Army?
Shinseki continues, "I hope you got to see the testimony
we provided to Congress, that said that we have been too long
leveraging our readiness on the backs of our soldiers and their
families, and we need to do something about it. I told them that
we needed to restore our faith with our soldiers... the force
is burdened with too few personnel, aging equipment, and poorly
maintained homes and facilities. We need to do something about
it. Our soldiers are hopeful that the Nation is going to find
a way to share with them the same well-being that soldiers have
won for all Americans... We need to slow our pace... Slow the
pace and focus on warfighting, mission-essential tasks so we can
practice and develop the kind of leadership that we know is important
in developing future leaders. It is in the warfighting business
that we develop leaders."
of us have stated our wishes for a senior leader with candor enough
to tell our elected leadership like it is. Yet, when the Chief
did that we sat passively by, no thank you's, no attaboy's, no
it's about time's, nothing. What does that tell you about the
state of the Army?
Shinseki also said, "Can we routinely schedule PCS's
in the summertime? Especially for families that have school-age
children... Can we move our PCS's for soldiers with families and
school-age children into the summer cycle?... Can we conduct brigade
and battalion changes of command during the summer cycles? I think
we can. Can we get to the point that soldiers receive permanent
change of station orders a year out?... I think we can."
Chief showed his intent to work an issue that has always plagued
soldiers and their families. No letters to the Army Times, no
e-mails. What does that tell you about the State of the Army?
CSA also noted, "Can we avoid keeping soldiers away from
their families unnecessarily? And here I'm talking about policies
that establish some protection for weekends in garrison. Can we
do that? Because I can tell you, every place I go, there are lots
of youngsters working weekends. And my question is: Why? It ought
not to be because we were inefficient during the week. Let's get
efficient during the week, and let's give our youngsters the weekends
they deserve. And I will hold the first general officer in the
chain of command responsible for approving any exceptions. Can
we give soldiers and families a four-day weekend every time we
have a Federal holiday? I think we can. Our soldiers more than
earn that time in the field or on deployments."
I get a hooah - even one?
Chief also noted, "Can we control short-notice taskings?
I know we can do better. I intend for the Army Headquarters here
to start setting the example. 1 January 2001, no nonemergency
taskings will leave Headquarters DA without the Chief's or the
Vice Chief's personal signature if it's less than 180 days from
execution. The folks who pay the price here are battalions and
companies- that short-sword warfighting business I talked about-because
that's where all of our good ideas collapse, right on the desk
of the young company commanders, who end up spending most of their
time learning how to manage requirements as opposed to commanding
cannot believe that there is a single leader from Squad Leader
through Battalion Command that hasn't seen their units and soldiers
suffer because of short notice tasking. Unit training is disrupted,
soldier's lives are disrupted and unit capability and readiness
suffers because of them. Yet, not one comment, or thanks Chief,
or appreciate it, not squat. What does that tell you leaders,
about the State of the Army?
[the black beret] will be a symbol of unity, a symbol of Army
excellence, a symbol of our values. We, the leadership, past and
present chose to focus on this issue. We were, and many still
are, consumed by it. Some soldiers and leaders felt it necessary
to degrade every other soldier and branch of the Army to justify
exclusive ownership of a hat. Many soldiers and leaders (although
many anonymously) made outright disrespectful comments to the
Chief of Staff of the Army and no leader stepped forward to take
issue with that. We plugged up the e-mail pipes, we filled the
Army Times with letters, we plugged up Internet discussion forums
and our conversations were of little else. We chose to ignore
all the important things the Chief wants to work for that will
make it better for soldiers, units and the Army. Instead, we chose
as our leadership topic - hats. Again, I ask, what does that say
about the state of our Army and the state of its unit leadership?
it states, loud and clear, is that training, leader development,
quality of life... all of those things mentioned by the Chief
and important to an Army, take a silent second to the issue of
who gets to wear what colored hat. If the energy spent on training
and leading soldiers equaled one tenth of what's been spent on
debating the pros and cons of this issue by leaders many of the
complaints and problems of the Army would vanish overnight.
Command Sergeant Major (Retired)
Articles & Press Releases
DA Approves Rangers New Headgear
|March 15, 2001
Fort Bragg, N.C.
- The 75th Ranger Regiment announced today that it will exchange
its traditional black beret for a tan beret. Today, Army Chief
of Staff, General Eric K. Shinseki, approved the Regiments
request to change their beret to maintain the distinctiveness
of the unit and reflect the legacy of more than two centuries
of Ranger history.
After studying several
options, the Rangers decided on the Ranger Tan Beret. Col. P.K.
Keen, regimental commander, sent a memorandum dated 9 March
2001, to the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, requesting
a change to adopt the Ranger Tan Beret as the new headgear for
announced last year that the Army would issue black berets to
all soldiers. That change will be effective, June 14, 2001-the
The Black Beret
has served the Rangers well and will be a symbol of excellence
and unity for The Army, said Keen.
He added that changing to the tan beret for Rangers is not about
being different from the rest of the Army, but about a critical
aspect that unifies our Army and makes it the best Army in the
world - high standards.
to adopt the Ranger Tan Beret is based upon maintaining a distinctive
beret for our Rangers as the Army transitions to the Black Beret,
said Keen. The Rangers support the Armys decision to don
the Black Beret and view this as another step forward in the
overall Transformation of the Army.
Tan is the one universal
and unifying color that transcends all Ranger operations. It
is reminiscent of the numerous beach assaults in the European
Theater and the jungle fighting in the Pacific Theater of World
War II, where Rangers and Marauders spearheaded victory.
It represents the
khaki uniforms worn by our Korean and Vietnam War era Rangers.
It is the color of the sand in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Mogadishu,
where modern day Rangers fought, died and continued to Lead
the Way. Tan rekindles the legacy of Rangers from all eras and
exemplifies the unique skills and special capabilities required
of past, present, and future Rangers.
never been measured by what they have worn in peace or combat,
but by commitment, dedication, physical and mental toughness,
and willingness to Lead the Way - anywhere, anytime. The beret
has become our most visible symbol -- it will remain so.
Tan Beret will represent for the Ranger of the 21st Century
what the black beret represented - A unit that Leads the
Way in our conventional and special operations forces.
Shinseki Approves Black Beret Flash
(Army News Service, Nov. 30, 2000) -- Ending the discussion
whether soldiers will wear distinctive unit flashes on their
black berets when they are initially issued in June, Chief of
Staff of the Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki recently decided on
a universal flash.
will initially wear the universal flash, except for those in
units that already have berets, such as Ranger, Airborne and
Special Forces. These troops will continue to wear the beret
flashes they currently have.
flash, worn on the left front of the beret, is a semicircular
shield 1-7/8 inches wide and 2-1/4 inches high. It has a bluebird
background with 13 white stars superimposed just inside its
outer border. Officers will wear their rank in the center of
is designed to closely replicate the colors (flag) of the commander
in chief of the Continental Army at the time of its victory
at Yorktown," said Pam Reece, an industrial specialist with
the Army's Institute of Heraldry. Reece and other institute
staff members created four beret flash designs from which Shinseki
made his selection.
flash will eventually be replaced by unit-specific flashes.
of staff announced Oct. 17 the Army will begin wearing the black
beret on the next Army birthday, June 14. He said the beret
will symbolize the Army's transformation to a lighter, more
"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," Shinseki said. Adopting the berets will be "another
step toward achieving the capabilities of the objective force"
of Army transformation, he said.
Army Rangers have worn the black beret since the mid-1970s,
they have not had a monopoly on the stylish cap. Prior to the
Rangers adopting the berets, they were worn by armor troops
at Fort Knox, Ky., and others in armored cavalry units.
Caps Stay, Berets to Symbolize Transformation
(Army News Service, Oct. 25, 2000) -- The BDU cap will still
be used in the field, even after the Army adopts the black beret
for garrison wear as part of its ongoing transformation, Sgt.
Maj. of the Army Jack L. Tilley said last week.
cap and garrison cap could go away," Tilley said, "But those
are things we've got to work out."
work with a group of senior NCOs to iron out the details of
how the Army will adopt the black beret next June. He was charged
by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki with devising an
implementation plan for the entire Army to don the berets.
a great idea - it's a way to pull the Army together," Tilley
said. "The beret has instilled pride in soldiers for years."
announced last week that soldiers will begin wearing the black
beret on June 14, the Army's first birthday of the new millennium.
Shinseki said the beret will be a symbol of the Army's transformation
to a lighter, more deployable force.
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. "It will
be a symbol of unity, a symbol of Army excellence, a symbol
of our values. When we wear the beret, it will say that we,
the soldiers of the world's best army, are committed to making
ourselves even better."
said black was chosen for the beret because it's a standard
color that has been worn in the past by soldiers in several
types of units. Prior to the US Army Rangers adopting the black
beret in the mid-1970s, it was worn by armor troops at Fort
Knox, Ky., and by those in armored cavalry units.
beret has been used by light and heavy forces before, on and
off over the years," Tilley said.
elite Ranger units may select a different color for their beret,
talking to the regimental sergeant major," Tilley said, referring
to Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Rakow of the 75th Ranger Regiment
headquartered at Fort Benning, Ga. "We're going to do what's
good for him and what's good for the rest of the Army."
that Rakow may be part of the group that decides how wearing
of the black beret will be implemented across the Army. The
group will decide how many berets need to be ordered. It will
decide what kind of instruction needs to be provided on how
the beret is worn. It will also recommend when new soldiers
will be issued the beret -- for instance upon graduation from
basic training, advanced individual training or perhaps when
they arrive at their first permanent unit.
be a rite of passage," Tilley said of new soldiers donning the
beret, but explained the details have not yet been worked out.
indicated that Armywide ceremonies may be planned for June 14
when soldiers at posts and stations worldwide don the black
beret for the first time. National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers
will be involved as well, for they will also wear the black
beret, Tilley said.
the BDU cap will remain the optimum headgear in the field when
the kevlar helmet isn't worn. Berets just don't shade the eyes
from sun and hold up to weather the way a cap does, he said.
he doesn't expect any new Army regulations on hairstyles to
accompany wear of the berets.
that the berets may help recruiting, but said that had nothing
to do with the reasoning behind the decision to adopt them.
he has been receiving lots of positive e-mail from soldiers
about the berets, but admitted that the comments have been "mixed"
and that some people are less than enamored with the idea. He
said young soldiers seem more excited about the idea of wearing
berets than senior NCOs and veterans.
that it's uplifting for soldiers," Tilley said about adopting
the beret. "It's very positive. It's a part of change. I've
been in the Army a long time and change is part of being a soldier."
said, change is what transformation is all about.
Rangers Led the Way to a Black Beret for All
A few Rangers
might feel that some in the Army don't deserve to wear dog tags,
much less the coveted black beret, which Army Chief of Staff
Gen. Eric Shinseki has made the standard for all soldiers starting
next summer. Come the Army's birthday, when we first see common
soldiers in a black beret, heads will turn no doubt.
after all, symbolizes a Ranger's unparalleled dedication and
selfless commitment to the Army. It's a statement that Rangers,
who epitomize the seven Army Values, unequivocally "lead the
true to their motto, led the way to this controversial decision
by owning up to the very creed that defines them. It is written
in The Ranger Creed that a Ranger's "courtesy to superior officers,
neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example
for others to follow."
so wrong with taking the very example that Rangers have established
and making it the model of the modern soldier? Such an honor
is hardly a "slap in the face," as some critics have characterized
it, but rather a slap on the back from the Army's second highest-ranking
general, who happens to be a Ranger himself.
Rangers have impressed the Army Chief of Staff; he ordered that
every soldier be fashioned in the Ranger image. The black beret,
he said, will be a symbol of unity, excellence, and Army Values.
For all soldiers who wear it, a higher standard is implied and
don't necessarily disagree with the general's intent, but this
directive has caused somewhat of a rift in the Ranger community.
Some don't mind the change; some vehemently oppose it. Even
some non-Ranger types have expressed apprehension. Such a divide
in the ranks proves America's Army needs something like the
black beret to unite its troops.
be argued that years of allowing special head gear and unit-level
deviations of the uniform -- all intended to recognize the "specialized"
or the "elite," -- defies the Army's goal of uniformity, distorts
our battle focus and contradicts the "one Army" concept." It
implies there are varying degrees, and thus, varying standards
of being a soldier.
Shinseki seeks to punctuate the soldiers' purpose and profile
with the black beret. Esprit de corps cannot be issued, but
it can be built, and a black beret for all is great basis from
which to start. With a stroke of the general's pen, America
will have a grander image of modern soldiering. Anyone who dons
a beret of any color should remember that, in the endeavor to
"be all you can be," you are a soldier first. Therein should
lie the true source of your Army pride.
be graceful and learn how to take a compliment. Do what you
are compelled to do -- "lead the way" to the transformation
of this magnificent Army. The common soldier will be all the
more indebted to those who "earned" the black beret.
you get right down to it, the only symbol attached to the uniform
that matters is the one strategically placed over every soldier's
heart -- the one that says, "U.S. Army." Patches and badges
and berets are subordinate to that.
Puts Army's Heraldry in Flash
flash, which will be worn on black berets in June, was designed
through an intense process that sped up normal work deadlines,
said Pam Reece at the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry.
first meeting with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack L. Tilley was
Oct. 26, Reece said. Development of the flash was completed
Nov. 23, in less than 30 days.
that was most amazing was a one-day turn-around on the creation
of prototypes, which were presented to the SMA Oct. 27," Reece
responsible for working with all Army cloth items, such as insignia,
flags and ribbons, at the Institute of Heraldry, located on
Fort Belvoir, Va. As an industrial specialist, she also coordinates
designs with manufacturers. On Nov. 3, Army officials were confident
on their design choice, however they still needed to come to
a decision on the final color, Reece said.
7 she was told that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki
and Tilley wanted to see examples of the flash done in old glory
blue, ultra-marine blue (the color of blue currently used in
many airborne flashes) and bluebird, said Reece. She then asked
a manufacturer -- Rainbow Embroidery of North Plainfield, N.J.
-- to develop these prototypes, which were delivered to the
SMA on Nov. 9.
amazing," she said. "Development of a flash normally takes three
months; Rainbow did this development in three days."
for increasing the speed of this process goes to Richard Rapoza,
our artist who turned the design into something manufacturable,"
to have had a hand in it, working with the design and turning
[Shinseki's] ideas into a product," said Rapoza who has been
an illustrator with the Institute of Heraldry for eight years.
next large-group meeting, Nov. 17, the flashes were shown to
all the parties involved in this project.
time, everybody was about 98-percent sure of the final flash,"
Reece said. "The Old Guard's replica colors were brought in
to ensure that we in fact had the right color. And on Nov. 20
I got the answer --it would be bluebird."
flash is a semi-circular shield measuring 1 7/8 inches wide
by 2 1/4 inch high, and will consist of 4,001 stitches and two
colors. The flash is designed to closely replicate the flag
of the commander in chief of the Continental Army at the time
of its victory at Yorktown, Reece said.
CSA's choice and takes the Army back to its very beginning,"
said Reece, who has been with the Institute of Heraldry for
stars are significant of the original 13 colonies," Reece said.
"I think it's really neat that they went back and took the colors
of the Continental Army. If you want to go back and put some
pride [back into the Army] you can't go back any further than
will initially wear the universal flash, except for those in
units that already have berets, such as Ranger, Airborne and
Special Forces. These troops will continue to wear the beret
flashes they currently have.
flash will be worn on the left front of the beret. Officers
will wear their rank in the center of the shield, and enlisted
soldiers will wear their distinctive unit insignia in the center
of the shield.
berets which will initially be issued to soldiers will be shipped
with the universal flash already sewn on them, Reece said. Additionally,
the universal flash will eventually be replaced by unit-specific
flash is to be worn for a period of one year, Reece said. During
that year, the Institute of Heraldry will be working with representatives
of the Army's 16 major commands to design and develop distinctive
far below MACOM level distinctive unit flashes will be created
has not yet been decided, said Reece.
the Institute of Heraldry's part in flash development is finished.
160 of the new flashes to the sergeant major of the Army, and
the cartoon (a manufacturing-specifications diagram) has gone
out to manufacturers from the Defense Supply Center, Philadelphia,
which is responsible for procurement of the berets," Reece said.
"Initially some four to five million berets are to be procured."
not selected included a flash with a black background and yellow
boarder, colors which are assumed to represent the Army's colors;
one with a green background and yellow border, also colors associated
with the Army; and the third design was much the same as the
one selected, however with a darker "old glory blue" background.
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