My new beret…

I had to break down and buy a new beret as my old one was getting paper thin and looking more gray than black.  Now I am possibly the only member of the U.S. Army who actually likes the beret (if you thought DADT was controversial you’ve obviously never heard soldiers talk about the beret) and as I was in the process of preparing it for wear ( a process which involves shaving it -!-, wetting it down, shaping it on your head and then wearing it around the house until it dries) I thought of why I like the thing.  I came up with two reasons:

  1. The army cap is fine and practical for keeping sun and rain our of your eyes but it really isn’t very impressive to look at.  Think of the impressive headgear of militaries in the 20th century and glorified ball caps aren’t going to be at the top of anyone’s list.  The beret looks smart and I find that people who argue otherwise are generally among the first to fawn over the berets worn by special forces, rangers, airborne, etc…Besides, we’ve had the beret for almost 10 years now.  People really need to get over their issues about it already and deal with it.
  2. There’s a saying in vogue among those practicing COIN to highlight the principle of encouraging a sense of ownership among indigenous forces…”If they sweat for it, they’ll defend it.”  The new Army uniform is almost entirely designed to require little work from soldiers.  The ACU is wash and wear, the combat boots are canvas and suede requiring no polishing, medals can now be bought pre-shined and coated with a finish that guarantees nothing more than dusting.  The beret is one of the few pieces of the uniform that require some sort of effort from the soldier and can demonstrate (to some degree) the amount of pride a soldier has about his/her uniform.

As a side note…my first beret was made in China and my new one is a product of New Zealand.  Those Kiwi sheep must produce some tough wool since this beret is much thicker than my original, seems to be almost completely waterproof and was much easier to shape.

I guess prison labor isn’t always the best choice…


One response to “My new beret…

  1. Cheers for your kind comments on the obvious quality of Kiwi sheep (yes, they are related as neither cam fly)…if I could get one in a box, I’d send you one to play with Shiloh…

    At a guess, I’d say your new fashion accessory comes from Hills hats who have been in the beret game since forever…we went through the same PLA clothing philosophy (one colour, one size fits all) at the same time the USA went to black…in our case we went for rifle green, not because it was the coolest colour with a good solid military sounding name, but because that was what they had to most of on the shelves already and thus would have less off to purchase in the initial top-up buy…So whereas you went for Ranger Black, possibly presciently now that we seek to upgrade soldier warfighting skills across the board, we opted for Signal Green….

    In a move designed to enhance organisational identity, arguably something that was never broken, and if it was something more likely to be addressed by application of Leadership 101 than a new hat, it had the opposite effect as it damaged much of the esprit of the individual branches of service. These branches, contrary to lies told in the loggie world, were NOT engaged in internecine warfare at the expense of the braoder Army.

    As someone who took a career left-turn into a TOD running Army clothing and personal equipment projects, I can honestly say that generals should leave fashion sense to their wifes…

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