U.S. Special Forces can relax now that the Army has officially unveiled a beret for combat advisors that is absolutely not green.
At an activation ceremony Thursday at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Army unveiled the new brown berets, flash and unit insignias for the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, which is set to deploy to Afghanistan in spring
The choice of brown berets came following an outcry in October when a picture of a new green beret for soldiers in the unit was posted online, which prompted a petition which called on the 1st SFAB to immediately abandon the distinctive headgear.
“The wearing of the Green Beret is a symbol of commitment and sacrifice to the men who challenged themselves to be the best of the best in the U.S. Army Special Forces,” the petition said. “This honor is earned, never issued.”
It soon became clear that the beret shown online was just a prototype and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley quickly concurred with those who lobbied for a different color, an Army official told Task & Purpose. The unit patch was also redesigned as an homage Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.
The roughly 800 soldiers in the brigade will be key to the U.S. military’s strategy of advising Afghan military and police units at the battalion level. But speaking at the ceremony, Milley reiterated that the SFAB “is not and will not be Special Forces,” according to the Columbus Star-Ledger.
“Special Forces is very unique,” Milley said, “They are trained, manned, equipped and tasked with the conduct of things like unconventional warfare, advance force operation, operational preparation environment. They are trained as our counter-terrorist operation, strategic reconnaissance and many, many other missions. ... The SFABs will work with Special Forces units.”
Security Force Assistance Brigades wear brown berets. SFAB Soldiers will be on the ground with their partners - fighting side by side with them in all conditions, so the brown beret symbolizes dirt or mud akin to the "muddy boots" moniker given to leaders who are always out with the troops. Brown berets are not similar to any other beret currently in the Army inventory.U.S. Army
Until now, the Army has ripped conventional brigade combat teams apart to produce soldiers to advise Iraqi and Afghan troops, Milley said earlier this year.
“We only have X amount of these brigade combat teams and if we take a whole bunch of them and we shred them, take their leadership apart, and they go through an exercise and we call them ‘advisers,’ then you’re essentially reducing your ground combat capability by whatever amount you commit to that task,” Milley said on Jan. 17 at an Association of the United States Army event. “I want to stop doing that. I want to make sure that our conventional combined arms maneuver capabilities stay together, train, hit the sled tons of times, and that we also have an advisory capability.”