B5 Systems

Decoding Those Air Force Berets

Recently, an SSD reader commented that they didn’t understand why Security Forces and TACPs wear the same color beret. They don’t. Cops wear Dark Blue (which they appropriated from CCT) and TACP wear Black but the colors are close and based on fading, you could definitely confuse the two. One of the funniest stories I heard was from a TACCS who told me that a Soldier in the Army commented about how nice it was that the Army was letting them wear their headgear. TACPS wore Black berets long before the Army handed them out to everyone.

Currently, several careerfields wear berets. It’s really been a helter skelter smattering of who has a beret and who doesn’t with more and more added over the years. In some cases the beret is worn by actual combat oriented AFSCs and in others only by certain members of careerfields. Take for example, Combat Weather where only Weather Parachutists sport berets. On the other hand, you’ve got the entire AF Security Forces careerfield which wears a beret. Being in a Special Tactics Squadron you can find every one of these colors in a formation along with Airmen wearing ball caps or flight caps.

Berets have often been considered a mark of the elite (despite the US Army’s decision to institutionalize the Black beret for all Soldiers) and by extension parachutists. When you look at the list, the Air Force’s beret policy really doesn’t make much sense. For instance Air Force parachutists in careerfields other than those below do not wear a beret (although in many joint billets they do in spite of AF uniform regs) while non-parachutists in some AFSCs do wear them.

CCT/STO – Scarlet
PJ/CRO – Maroon
TACP/ALO – Black
Weather Parachutists – Grey
Security Force – Blue
SERE Specialists – Sage Green
Not shown is a Sky Blue beret worn by cadets at the US Air Force Academy while BCT introduction to first year cadets.

This image came from the Air Force and still isn’t quite right. For instance, Special Operations Weather Technicians have a metal beret device and no longer wear the DUI of the ARSOF units they support. At least the colors are all correct.


27 Responses to “Decoding Those Air Force Berets”

  1. Airborne_fister says:

    For the TACP. Does the rank also go for enlisted personnel?

    • Airborne_fister says:

      Dumb question maybe coming from a fister. But I have never worked with a JTAC that wasn’t wearing a baseball hat, or a helmet. Since they all have been wearing a head set.

  2. Explosive Hazard says:

    And I thought the Army was ridiculous in the variety of berets we have. I know some members of the AF EOD community wanted a tan beret a while back. I guess the EOD badge just isn’t enough to separate them from the rest of the AF.

    • EODFish says:

      Actually we wanted the benefits of being classed as Battlefield Airmen, the beret was a distraction that got thrown on top discrediting the whole issue all together. When everyone in the AF has a badge it cheapens the concept.

    • Bman says:

      I agree. I am sure the special operations units of the Air Force all respect one another enough that they would probably not fight too much over sharing a beret. The biggest argument would probably be on “whos” beret got picked. I think berets have gotten out of hand in the United States military where we used to be proud that we looked different than the Europeans. Berets mixed with ball caps just looks silly. There is a law that the fashion security forces will be cracking down on soon.

  3. DSM says:

    It’s just a piece of headgear and a not so practical one at that. Sure, it’s smart looking in a formation but standing a post in the hot sun for 12 hours or in the pouring rain always made you wish you had leadership that weren’t f-tards. Heck, we couldn’t wear the so-called “floppy”hats in the desert at most locations. What part of “Hat, Sun, Hot Weather” didn’t make sense??
    I was an SP so I can’t speak for the others but the blue brain sucker we had to wear was a product of low morale in the post-Vietnam era. The 1041st guys wore a lighter shade of blue beret, correct, but it was a move to motivate what was (and still is) one of the largest career fields in the service. I think it was BG Sadler who was the Director, Security Police at the time. It’s not a glamorous story that the young gung-ho security superstar wants to believe in, but hey, they don’t believe they’re still not allowed to smoke dope even if they took leave in CO.

  4. Kaos-1 says:

    Zoomies be zooming in they’re berets . Lmfao

  5. Some former AF Dude says:

    Thanks SSD for the clarification. However, maybe my eyes are just crap, but I could swear that every time I went through the gate at base the Security Forces guys wore black berets with no hue or shade of blue whatsoever…

  6. Chuck says:

    Incase you ever wondered where the idea for the current AF Security Forces beret and flash came from…it is derived from the 1960′ era beret worn by members of the 1041 SPS (T). This was a truly blue beret. I have a picture of one of the original issue 1960 blue berets, but I can’t post it here. If you want to know more about their role in Vietnam and see what the original blue beret and flash looked like just google the 1041 SPS, Operation Safeside or check out http://www.usafpolice.org.

  7. Matt says:

    I left the military many years ago so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I find the wearing of berets to be ludicrous. How about using head gear that actually performs a function?


  8. DM says:

    When I was in the Air Force the Paraweathermen (as they were known at the time) wore baby blue berets. Glad that got changed. Also you didn’t have Combat Rescue Officers.

  9. Silver Dragon says:

    I’m under the impression that the military beret issue are really out of control and it is a waste of money and effort. The US Military irregardless of Special Operation Units or other non Special Operation Units should focus on winning wars in the long term rather acting like a bunch of idiots over some stupid fashion headgear. Finally, the European military organisations should be permitted to wear military berets since they know how to wear such headgear properly and the US Military doesn’t know how to this headgear properly at all.

    • FormerActionGuy says:

      Wow! Speechless by the stupidity of your comment. Politicians and the Campaigner in Chief have no stomach for winning wars. Leave the berets to those who earned them. AF in berets? LMFAO!

      • Silver Dragon says:

        I am not dissing any military veteran for their contribution and service to the U.S.A., but the money should be spent for ammunition and training. The US Military should also ditch the military beret as a sacrifice for more important issues, but stop focusing on this DAMN headgear and aim for crushing the enemy.

      • EODFish says:

        What’s with the cheap shot at the contributions of AF members? More little picture mindset?

        • Silver Dragon says:

          You have failed to understand that the military beret does not enhance the US Military’s fighting capability nor does it scream “HEY WE CAN WIN A WAR” at all. Also, the military beret does not have any significance anymore because I myself a civilian can just as easily buy one or more military berets of a different color and get away with such intention. In fact, I have worn a few military berets without markings and after a while, it feels like someone bought sweet candy and felt some good taste before such feeling dissipates.

  10. Bill says:

    This may be too far out there, but how about if cops wore cop hats? On the .civ side we’ve managed to survive in round or 8-point hats,l et alone Stetsons and Campaign hats, wherever those came from. Sure, for some uniforms it wouldn’t work, but they do a great job of holding rights cards and cheat sheets.

  11. Ajc says:

    SFS wear beret to distinguish them to the base population as cops or authority. When they d ploy they no longer wear them, that is replaced by Kevlar or a soft cap.