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Posts Tagged ‘GEN Mark Milley’

1st SFAB Responds To Concerns Over Adoption Of Green Beret And ‘Legion’ Nickname

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

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Last week, photos of an Olive Drab beret intended for wear by the US Army’s newly minted 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade surfaced. They set off an internet firestorm that has culminated with the unit issuing this statement on Facebook.

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It says:

The 1st SFAB has great respect for U.S. Army Special Forces, their many accomplishments and their singularly distinguished history. We also respect the concerns associated with the heraldry of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade.

The 1st SFAB is not a Special Forces organization. We are a conventional force purposefully built to partner with other conventional forces. SFABs will support Army readiness by allowing brigade combat teams to focus on building their readiness for large scale contingencies instead of on the train, advise and assist missions.

In accordance with Army guidance, we will select a new unit name. The Army has also decided the SFABs will wear a Brown Infantry Beret like those worn by many armies. Our new name and photos of the beret will be published once the final decisions are approved.

Thank you for your support as we establish the identity and culture of the #1SFAB.

U.S. Army U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) XVIII Airborne Corps

The Olive Green color of the 1st SFAB’s new beret was a bit too close for comfort for the US Army Special Forces, who were awarded the Green Beret by a Presidential Memorandum issued by President Kennedy, well over 50 years ago.

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While the shades of Green are different, the President didn’t say “Rifle Green” Beret and the issue item has a tendency to fade to a much lighter shade over time. It’s always been referred to simply as a ‘Green Beret’. What’s more, popular culture refers to SF by that term thanks to a popular song and book turned movie. ‘Green Beret’ is part of the national lexicon.

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When the Olive Drab beret was combined with an arrowhead-shaped Shoulder Sleeve Insignia complete with tab ala SF and USASOC as well as the self-appointed nickname of “The Legion” (the actual nickname for the 5th SFG(A)), it all added up to appear that Big Green was attempting to steal SF’s lineage for this new unit. To make matters worse, the 1st SFAB was stood up to conduct a mission long accomplished by SF. The similarities were uncanny, even to the most reasonable observor.

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In protest, numerous articles were written, memes were created, and supporters of the SF heritage even created a petition.

On Monday, Army Chief of Staff, GEN Mark Milley, himself SF qualified and a veteran of 5th Group, responded to concerns in a phone interview with Army Times.

Bottom line, GEN Milley has taken responsibility for the situation, explained that it was unintentional and directed the 1st SFAB to find a new nickname. Finally, he referred to the beret as an Olive Brown color, patterned after a British Army Beret but acknowldeged that the shade may appear Green. Based on the 1st SFAB’s statement, it looks like they’ll be adopting a much richer Infantry Brown.

Although not common knowledge, there was a move to adopt a Brown Beret for the US Army in the late 1990s. Then Sergeant Major of the Army Gene McKinney, was the lead on the initiative, but when he was relieved from his duty position and court martialled, the project was stopped.

Instead, in 2000, former CSA Shinseki awarded the Black Beret worn for decades by the 75th Ranger Regt, to the Army as a standard headgear, and issued the Tan Beret to the Rangers instead, complete with a contrived backstory. Soldier and Rangers alike still grumble over that fiasco.

At least this time the Army leadership has reacted before it is too late. Unfortunately, it took the collective voice of the internet to point it out rather than realizing it was a poorly hatched plan from the beginning.