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How to Properly Wear a United States' Army Beret as a Piece of Military Headgear

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

Sleek and Professional

Wear is Subject to a Commander's Judgment

Amongst a wide array of United States' headgear alternatives, few other pieces of authorized headgear embody the sleek and professionally trained look as well as the beret presents with. Unfortunately, while the beret may work quite well while in a low-intensity garrison environment, it isn't the most practical piece of Army headgear to wear while engaging in a variety of missions or field training exercises. Because of the beret's natural tendency to become easily impractical, the gold standard for Army uniform policy and regulations, AR 670-1, follows up its precise guidelines with the opportunity for individual unit commanders to apply their better judgment in determining whether or not the Soldiers under their command should even wear berets.

Historically, the beret has been a deeply engrained element of the United States' Army culture and tradition. If a unit commander ever deems it impractical to wear the beret, that commander's Soldiers will, instead, wear the current Army digital soft patrol cap. Bear in mind, however, that the current softcap (ACU digital pattern) may be replaced, similar to the BDU patrol cap, any time after the publishing of this particular InfoBarrel article.

Step #1

Understand When to Wear Which Color Beret

The United States' Army has authorized several different colors of beret that are directly associated with your unit of assignment and the professional Soldier position capacity you are filling. With greater skill and expertise achieved through required training, and subsequent unit assignment, you may be authorized to wear a maroon, beige, or green beret. It is important to realize that the black beret is the standard beret worn by all Soldiers Army-wide, and the colored berets can only be worn when you are specifically authorized to do so by virtue of your duty position, unit of assignment, and/or training completed.

For a Soldier to wear any beret, other than their authorized beret, is a direct violation of Army uniform standards. Not only that, but this display also serves to portray yourself in a highly unethical manner by associating yourself with a job and skills that you have not, yourself, acquired. This display, in accordance with Army standards, can be punishable by imprisonment. As you can see, it is very important to know and understand when exactly each particular color of beret is worn.

Step #2

Understand When You Can (and Cannot) Wear the Black Beret

Since General Shinseki resolved to convey uniformity by making the black beret the Army-wide standard for Soldiers, it has been worn by those who have:

  • Returned to their First Permanent Duty Assignment, After Completing their Initial Entry Training (IET, which is composed of Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training).
  • Completed their Basic Officer/Warrant Officer Leadership Courses.
  • Begun Drilling with their Units in a Split-Option or Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) Capacity.

The following individuals are NOT authorized wear of the black beret:

  • Cadets
  • Officer Candidates
  • Warrant Officer Candidates
  • Split-Option or Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) Soldiers May Only Wear the Black Beret While Performing Drill or other Training Activities with their Unit. While Not With their Units, they Must Revert to Wearing the Army Soft Patrol Cap.

The "Army Flash" is light blue in color, and has several small stars encompassing its perimeter. This is where your unit insignia crest (for enlisted Soldiers), or Army officer rank, will be affixed when your beret is worn. This Army flash must be worn by all Soldiers, as the Army-wide standard accompanying the black beret, unless authorization for a different flash was had before General Shinseki implemented the black beret as the standard for Army headgear.

Step #3

Understand When You Can (and Cannot) Wear the Tan Beret

In the United States' Army, the tan beret is reserved specifically for those Soldiers whose training dictate that they must serve in any capacity in a Ranger unit. Solderis who are assigned to the Ranger Training Brigade, or the 75th Ranger Regiment.

If a Soldier previously served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, and went on to serve with the following units or commands, they will be authorized the wear of the Ranger tan beret:

  • U.S. Special Operations Command
  • U.S. Army Special Operations Command
  • U.S. Special Operations Command Joint Task Force
  • Theater Special Operations Command

Unlike what is applied to the wear of the black beret, the flash worn with the Ranger tan beret will be that of the unit in which a Soldier is assigned.

Step #4

Understand When You Can (and Cannot) Wear the Green Beret

In the heart of the United States' Army, there is an elite force called the "Green Berets". With strict adherence to some of the highest training standards in the world, the "Green Berets" have been an instrumental component of Army force that has been injected everywhere from Grenada, Panama, and even the invasion of the Normandy coastline during WWII. All Special Forces-Qualified Soldiers will be authorized the wear of the green beret, just so long as it is approved by their local commanders. In order to be a Special Forces-Qualified Soldier, you must have obtain the military occupational specialty (MOS) of the following:

  • 18A
  • 180A
  • CMF 18
  • or CSMs Reclassified from 18Z to OOZ

With regards to wear of a unique flash, the same standard applies to the green beret as it does to the tan beret. A qualified Soldier will wear the same flash as designated by the unit in which they are assigned to. A generic special forces' flash will be worn by those individuals who are assigned to a unit or organization that does not have an approved flash.

Step #5

Understand When You Can (and Cannot) Wear the Maroon Beret

Beyond the Rangers and Green Berets, the Maroon beret is reserved for wear by Soldiers who are in United States' Ariborne units. These Soldiers' primary mission must be that of airborne operations in order to wear this beret. In accordance with Section 3-5.(6), of AR 670-1, there are nine other types of Soldiers that are authorized to wear the maroon beret.

Step #6

Proper Wear of the Beret

Irregardless of the actual color beret you are authorized to wear while serving in the United States' Army, the general form and fit of the beret will be the same. Subject to the proper shaving, and preparation of your beret, your beret should assume a highly professional and sleek look when the black headband portion is centered across your forehead. Your beret flash will be positioned above your left eye in a manner where your officer rank (for officers) or Distinguished Unit Insignia (DUI) is strait up and down. Your flash should not be canted either way. With your flash in place, you will take the excess beret material and drape it over the right side of your ear. The draped excess material may cover the top to half way down your right ear.

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Mar 24, 2011 11:53am
I enjoy your articles, (when I have time to read right now)because my son has been in the Army for years. ALways brings him to my mind. I really need to turn him on to this site - know he would enjoy it - (barring time constraints) as he has loved to write since a child.
Thank you so much.
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