AFSOC Combat Aviation Advisors Adopt Brown Beret


Air Force Special Operations Command’s Combat Aviation Advisors unveiled the newly minted Charcoal Brown beret during a special ceremony at Duke Field yesterday. The 492nd Special Operations Wing says the beret, which is only authorized for wear on AFSOC installations, is a visual reminder to the wearer of each member’s personal and professional responsibility to serve the mission and partner forces with integrity, selflessness and tenacity.



Some might see this as an Air Force “me too”, following the lead of the US Army 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade’s adoption of a Brown beret. While the Army originally planned to issue an Olive Drab beret, just recently the Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Mark Milley announced they’d wear a Brown beret instead. However, the CAA community claims that they presented the Brown beret to President Trump On 18 July of this year, long before the Army made the Brown beret announcement. Looks like the Army is following AFSOC’s lead.


The Brown beret is only for wear by Air Force personnel assigned as Combat Aviation Advisors in AFSOC’s 6th Special Operation Squadron. These billets are limited to 18 Air Force Specialty Codes. Additionally, the Brown beret may only be worn while on AFSOC installations.

The wearer of the charcoal brown beret is accountable to be professional, mature, trustworthy, a trade expert, and most importantly, a team player committed to mission accomplishment. The color signifies fertile soil and reminds the wearer daily to look for potential where others see barrenness. It signifies grit, hard work and commitment to transform potential into capability by, with and through our foreign partners…”Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere.”

Other USAF careerfields with berets include:

CCT/STO – Scarlet
PJ/CRO – Maroon
TACP/ALO – Black
Weather Parachutists – Grey
Security Force – Blue
SERE Specialists – Sage Green


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 beret colors are all correct.

Interestingly, in 2011, the USAF EOD careerfield petitioned the Air Force Uniform Board for award of the Tan beret, but that request was denied.

For the most part, USAF berets are for careerfields and not units, like in the Army. For example, USAF parachutists in numerous careerfields serving in jump billets do not wear berets. This beret is an exception, as is the Sky Blue beret worn by upper class cadets at the US Air Force Academy solely while conducting BCT for first year cadets.

46 Responses to “AFSOC Combat Aviation Advisors Adopt Brown Beret”

  1. Maroon Beret says:

    What about that under appreciated career field, Tactical Chefs? I noticed the white beret, with crossed fork and ladle (not a spoon, as usually erroneously stated) was not listed? I sense there is a lack of appreciation for the Tactical Chef career field. However like the rest of the Special Operations they too wear other headgear while on mission. Whenever in the heat of the kitchen, and facing the gas fire, they wear a toque, and unlike the rest of Special Operations, who seem afraid to bring attention to themselves when the grease is flying, Tactical Chefs wear a white apron. Tactical Chefs also don’t wear sissy gear like knee pads because Chefs don’t kneel for anyone, or gloves, because they don’t have sensitive hands.

    • Bman says:

      This…. right here. I hate to say it, and have much respect for all, but does this not seen like everyone gets their trophy? There is something to be said about the simple approach the marines have.

      • SSD says:

        Simple approach? They’ve succumbed to the phenomenon as well. They’ve got more badges and baubles than ever.

        • Sean says:

          The Marine Corps has added only two badges in the last 5 decades, and one of those was basically a one for one change (combatant diver). Not sure where you are finding all of the other baubles.

          • SSD says:

            The reality is that all of the services have lots of baubles, the Marine Corps is no different. They’ve always had baubles. And they get gaudier as they go along. That CSO badge? Wow. Plus, what’s the deal with all of the shiny badges and rank? If the concept really is that every one is just a Marine and that’s good enough, why is everything shiny, ala “look at me”?

          • AGI says:

            Well, not really Sean. The USMC has 8 aviation related badges, 2 different parachutist badges, 3 EOD badges, 6 diver badges, 6 different marksmanship badges (as well as dozens of competition badges), the new MARSOC badge, various military police badges, combatant command and other joint service badges, etc. etc. etc.

            • jon says:

              AGI- not disagreeing, but the EOD badge specifically is across all 4 branches, no one has tried to change it that I know of other than Navy Officers wearing a Gold variation compared to the stay bright silver. Marines I’ve seen typically wear the satin finished badge.

              good point though on the number of badges overall.

              • EODFish says:

                Counting the Crab as three different badges is kind of silly. Each has a specific meaning that is fairly standard across the branches but they all serve the same purpose.

  2. sjl777 says:

    Any info on the heraldry or background on the color choice of beret or the colors in the flash?

    • AFSOC23 says:

      Blue for Air, green for the ground teams we support. Reference “Project 9” for info on the stripes.

      • SSD says:

        Thanks for the info!

      • johca says:

        Project 9 involved a bit more than a FID or an advisory (training) mission, more specifically the primary mission was to provide aerial support to British, American and Chinese forces operating hundreds of miles behind enemy lines. Technically the blue and green colors on the flash is applicable to everybody assigned to HQ AFSOC and any and every unit constituted under its command.

        As the 18 AFSCs in the CAA units are common to all AFSOC units, perhaps authorizing an AFSOC in garrison only beret would be more appropriate. <– The Combat Aviation Advisors community had the honor of presenting the first brown beret prototype to the current Command in Chief, President Donald J. Trump, thus paying homage to the tradition of this distinctive headgear. Unfortunately no other Air Force beret approval utilized this homage (kiss butt, thus the color) political tactic.

        • Coyote524 says:

          As is always the case, there is a little bit more to this story… but to some of your points above. You are absolutely correct IRT the multiple AFSCs being resident throughout AFSOC. The OAD is built precisely with that in mind… To do AFSOC core functions, just by/with/and through foreign aviation forces. CAAs have morphed over the last couple of years… the nature of the fight has changed significantly so the force, tasks, conditions, standards, and employment methods have changed as well. FID is one of 3 METLs that CAAs now have. Do CAAs train a PN force? you bet they do. This often connotes an image of a traveling schoolhouse. In the past, frankly, the capability has often been used that way. However, due to the huge growth of organizations conducting training/SMEEs, etc with partnered forces (Both SOF and GPF), it’s allowing CAAs to focus in on the METs that have often been shelved/ignored in the past. CAAs are encouraged to see more an expansion of advisory work being done… it allows OADs to be where the joint force can get the most bang for the buck out of them. Bottom line, CAAs are now focused on integrating whatever air they can get their hands on in support of joint SOF on the surface partnered with a foreign/indigenous force. It now includes a variety of missions to include but not limited to FID, and with a wider scope of authorities to match what the partnered joint SOF component has on the surface. Hat aside… CAAs exist to serve both partnered force (color of the beret) and the joint force (design of the flash). As you rightly stated… the second of those mission obligations is an AFSOC-wide. The first, more specific. IRT using a political tactic… a once in a blue-moon shot presented itself… the Army SF guys in the room with the CAA who presented it to the President seemed to really enjoy watching it happen. I think the “tradition” that the article is referring to is the fact that the Department of the Army wasn’t a fan of the Green Beret, but President Kennedy authorized it’s wear for Army Special Forces. Happy to provide any further background for those interested. Some may dislike the hat, but its up to each individual wearer to ensure that they serve and integrate in such a way to do the ideals behind it justice. That gets drummed into each candidate throughout the assessment process and the pipeline. The entirety of the ceremony is on video somewhere… I will try to post a link here for anyone interested. Deditissimus Vincit.

          • johca says:

            Tradition is beyond question being connected to Army Special Forces getting an organizational headgear approved by a reluctant to do so Department of the Army. Unfortunately tradition implies it is a long established custom to go directly to the President (commander in Chief), by passing the chain of command, to get a beret uniform approved.

            Unfortunately the only precedence of seeking Presidential support and interest happened back in 1962 and there is no evidence of any other beret uniform approval relying on such involving the President of the United States.


            The Green Beret was originally designed in 1953 by SF Major Herbert Brucker, a veteran of the OSS. Later that year, First Lieutenant Roger Pezelle adopted it as the unofficial headgear for his A-team, Operational Detachment FA32. They wore it whenever they went to the field for prolonged exercises. Soon it spread throughout all of SF, although the Army refused to authorize its official use. Finally, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy planned to visit Fort Bragg. He sent word to the Special Warfare Center commander, Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, for all SF Soldiers to wear their berets for the event. President Kennedy felt that since they had a special mission, SF should have something to set them apart from the rest. Even before the presidential request, however, the Department of the Army had acquiesced and teletyped a message to the center authorizing the beret as a part of the SF uniform.

            When President Kennedy came to Fort Bragg Oct. 12, 1961, General Yarborough wore his Green Beret to greet the commander-in-chief. The president remarked, “Those are nice. How do you like the Green Beret?” General Yarborough replied, “They’re fine, Sir. We’ve wanted them a long time.”
            A message from President Kennedy to General Yarborough later that day stated, “My congratulations to you personally for your part in the presentation today … The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one, and I know that you and the members of your command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.”
            In an April 1962 White House memorandum for the U.S. Army, President Kennedy showed his continued support for SF, calling the Green Beret “a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.”

  3. Unimog says:

    OK SSD, how about a series of articles on the differences/duties of the various AF Beret wearing folks. We have Tacp here at Campbell who I am familiar with and I’ve seen a weatherman or two ( no idea their scope of operations). But most AF is a mystery to folks like me. Navy/Army background.

    • SSD says:

      I can do that. Essentially, we’re talking the Battlefield Airmen careerfields.

      • johca says:

        BA directly lead, control, and/or execute operational air and space power functions in the forward battlespace independent of an established airbase or its perimeter defenses. Comprising several Air Force Specialties, BA primarily operate in the land domain removed from traditional airbase support, logistics, and sortie generation efforts.

        The enlisted BA careerfields are: Combat Control, Pararescue, TACP. and Special Operations Weather.

        The Commissioned officer BA career fields are: Air Liaison Officer, Combat Rescue Officer, and Special Tactics Officer.

  4. Stu says:

    Will those who work on the Stargate get thier own beret?

  5. Stefan S. says:

    GMAFB! No offense, but seems the AF has self esteem issues. When everyone has a beret it doesn’t mean much anymore.

    • 53GNR says:

      Its hardly everybody….they have only ever been like 800 CAAs ever and only 150 or so in the unit at anyone time…beret was a bad choice I think but these guys do deserve something to represent their unique mission set.

    • Frank says:

      Agreed, but the ENTIRE US Army is now elite as they all may wear the Black beret. Let’s talk with Shinseki and remember why he made THAT decision. Self esteem for all, yayyyyyyyy!

      • Che Guevara's Open Chest Wound says:

        Funny how people like to obsessively run down Shinseki over the beret. I prefer to remember him as the sane voice telling the White House not to invade Iraq with a small footprint. Granted, its always easier to focus on irrelevant trinkets like hats, then to focus on international politics.

    • SSD says:

      Everyone? Not. Even with Security Forces in berets it still isn’t even 15% of the service.

    • Will says:


      It’s best not to spread BS. In the 3P0X1 pipe, there’s something like 55k of us, with the other beret wearers comprising far less than that combined. Saying “no offense” doesn’t give you a pass for spewing garbage, go read something before you make broad sweeping dumbass statements.

      • SSD says:

        I thought you guys cut to the low 20k, at least on active duty. I can tell you Battlefield Airmen are only a few thousand all told.

        • Will says:

          SSD, It’s a little higher than that on Active Duty. I was speaking to total force strength across all components. My numbers were current as of October ’17 when we were approving equipment on WEPTAC board. I’d have to ask some folks to get an updated tally.

          You are correct on the BA dudes. In total I think they’re looking at under 10 for all of em combined.

  6. 32sbct says:

    Can we ever get over the whole beret thing? A hat does not make anyone elite. I understand the symbolism but the whole army has been wearing berets since 2001. The majority of Soldiers in the Army have only known everyone wearing a beret so the beret will never represent what it did before. There’s no going back at this point.

    • Will Rodriguez says:

      Agree. Berets are so European. Why rely on Euro style to comemmorate our history? Seems we have enough of it now not to have to borrow from the Europeans.

    • johca says:

      Agree, but the discussion is very entertaining.

  7. johca says:

    Gotta keep the snowflakes happy!

    • SSD says:

      Or, we could have snowflakes whining because someone got a hat they didn’t.

    • Coyote524 says:

      I get it… 🙂 But the oldest recipient of the brown beret is 83 years old. He did this work in SE Asia in the mid-60s, was a plank-owner in the unit, and deployed to hostile/contested areas as a GS providing advisory/assistance to PN forces until he was into his 70s.

  8. Stuart Neilson says:

    Copying the King’s Royal Hussars. Now you need to learn to wear them properly rather than looking like you’re standing under a comedy helicopter landing pad.

    • straps says:

      The pic that loaded with that link (June 2013 photo commemorating the award of the whuppin’ stick) has two dudes wearing the same headgear with the flash in very different locations–one troop’s flash is over his left eye (somewhat close to the American method of wear), one’s flash is halfway between his eye and ear.

      Which one of them is the “comedy helo lading pad” guy?

  9. EODFish says:

    Thanks for linking the article highlighting the denial of our beret so we could enjoy the comments section all over again.

    • johca says:

      Has AF EOD led the way by reimplementing a occupational fitness test or a tech school fitness test requirement above and beyond BMT fitness test standards?

      • EODMatt says:

        Occupational fitness test is in the works and will be here soon enough. Without being designated as Battlefield Airmen it is next to impossible to require the PAST test.

        As for tech school fitness test above and beyond BMT to get into the EOD career field members must complete the PAST test. The suspension was temporary and due to the new CSAF requiring reworking of certain aspects.

        • johca says:

          Temporary suspension or not, the lack of and difficulty in implementing an occupational fitness standard for any AFSC has nothing to do with being or not being a BA AFSC.

          The difficulty stem to U.S. Congress implementing in 1993 statute SEC. 543. GENDER-NEUTRAL OCCUPATIONAL PERFORMANCE STANDARDS. It is further complicated that the removal of combat exclusion policy specifically stipulate any change in occupational fitness standards must be approved and submitted by the Department Secretary who must submit to the Secretary of Defense who if approves will submit for final approval to the U.S. Congress.

          AF EOD lack of implementing any occupational fitness standards as being required human performance need until at least a decade after 1993 is the obstruction.

          (a) GENDER NEUTRALITY REQUIREMENT- In the case of any military occupational career field that is open to both male and female members of the Armed Forces, the Secretary of Defense–
          (1) shall ensure that qualification of members of the Armed Forces for, and continuance of members of the Armed Forces in, that occupational career field is evaluated on the basis of common, relevant performance standards, without differential standards or evaluation on the basis of gender;
          (2) may not use any gender quota, goal, or ceiling except as specifically authorized by law; and
          (3) may not change an occupational performance standard for the purpose of increasing or decreasing the number of women in that occupational career field.
          (1) For any military occupational specialty for which the Secretary of Defense determines that specific physical requirements for muscular strength and endurance and cardiovascular capacity are essential to the performance of duties, the Secretary shall prescribe specific physical requirements for members in that specialty and shall ensure (in the case of an occupational specialty that is open to both male and female members of the Armed Forces) that those requirements are applied on a gender-neutral basis.
          (2) Whenever the Secretary establishes or revises a physical requirement for an occupational specialty, a member serving in that occupational specialty when the new requirement becomes effective, who is otherwise considered to be a satisfactory performer, shall be provided a reasonable period, as determined under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, to meet the standard established by the new requirement. During that period, the new physical requirement may not be used to disqualify the member from continued service in that specialty.
          (c) NOTICE TO CONGRESS OF CHANGES- Whenever the Secretary of Defense proposes to implement changes to the occupational standards for a military occupational field that are expected to result in an increase, or in a decrease, of at least 10 percent in the number of female members of the Armed Forces who enter, or are assigned to, that occupational field, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to Congress a report providing notice of the change and the justification and rationale for the change. Such changes may then be implemented only after the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date on which such report is submitted.

          • EODFish says:


            Why are you still, 6.5 years later, pretending to have any understanding of the internal dynamics of the EOD career field.

            • johca says:

              The dynamics of occupational fitness standards are not unique to the AF EOD community. Plus AF EOD is not the only beret proposal HQ USAF/uniform board has disapproved since SERE had its beret approved back in 2004.

              • SSD says:

                What are the others?

                • johca says:

                  The 2nd Joint Communication Squadron (airborne) at MacDill AFB (a TRANSCOM subordinate unit) submitted a beret uniform request (backdoor) through USSOCOM about ten years ago.

                  Part of their justification was the Maroon Beret uniform authorized by HQ Air Force, 1 June 1966, for Pararescue was actually for all Air Force personnel performing parachutist duties. Unfortunately all the source documents pertinent to the original proposal and final approval decision are in Air Force archives. These documents clearly and distinctly demonstrated 98% of their justification was being very deceptive to include method of not going through their parent command.

                  Backtracking a bit, but any suggesting current distinctive beret uniforms are for career fields and not units” has a gray area in that the Weather Parachutist beret is authorized for wear by weather parachutists other than members of the Special Operations Weather specialty (occupation). It is the wear of the SOW beret device that distinguishes holding award of Special Operations Weather AFSC and the assignment to a AFSOC SOWT unit/position.

                  A review of Air Force and MAJOM (primarily AFSOC) Dress and Appearance indicate policies have not kept up with identifying the various beret devices and flashed worn by weather personnel assigned to Combat Weather Team parachutist duty positions and those holding the SOW AFSC. The weather beret device/flash design had much indecision and no set policy until after 2000 as should it be combat weather or SOW, should it be worn over Army unit’s being supported flash or not. Current AFSOC policy shows where of SOW device over unit flash.