Reports out of Ft. Bragg say that there is a movement afoot to issue Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) soldiers assigned to Special Operations Forces (SOF) their own distinctive headgear, in this case, a grey beret.
The Army Times reported that the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, (SWCS) and the Army were testing a “distinctive uniform item” at the SWCS’s schoolhouse located at Ft. Bragg, NC.
However, the SWCS Public Affairs Officer (PAO) LTC Loren Bymer has stated that nothing has been approved and the idea hasn’t even been pitched to the SWCS commander, Major General Patrick Robertson.
“In a move to more closely link Army Special Operations Forces, the PSYOP Proponent at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is exploring the idea of a distinctive uniform item, like a grey beret, to those Soldiers who graduate the Psychological Operations Qualification Course,” Bymer said in a statement.
“The PSYOP proponent at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is still studying the issue and has not made any recommendation to the Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, concerning awarding of a beret,” he added.
Bymer, who normally gets to act as the wet blanket of reason for the various rumors that permeate USASOC and the SWCS, has stated that a Facebook post by a unit on Ft. Bragg “incorrectly identified a grey beret as the new distinctive unit headgear” for PSYOP soldiers. That post was uploaded by the 5th Bn, 1st Special Warfare Training Group’s Facebook page and featured a grainy photo of a grey beret with a SWCS flash.
The post stated, “There are currently no plans to implement a distinctive headgear for PSYOP. It has been an ongoing discussion, but it has not been officially proposed to the command and has not been approved.” And the purpose, it was added further below, was to generate discussion.
In the Army Times piece, Bymer stated, “The recommended DUI (distinctive unit insignia) does not have a unit affiliation, rather an education requirement. If approved, all students completing the optimized ARSOF PSYOP Qualification Course, which will include a SOF PSYOP module, would earn the SOF PSYOP Additional Skill Identifier.”
The DUI is an apt acronym because someone must have been drinking to think that this is a good idea. The Army has already cheapened the entire purpose of having berets as a distinctive unit insignia. Army Special Forces have a green beret, the 75th Ranger Regiment had the black beret and Airborne units wear the universal maroon beret.
Then the Army in its infinite wisdom decided to make the entire force “elite” by issuing everyone who goes through basic training, a black beret — which was the ultimate insult to the Ranger Regiment. But the Rangers switched over to a tan beret, which is what the British SAS wear. So, now, everybody in the Army has a beret and everything is perfect…right? Wrong.
General Miley had his own pet project, the Security Force Assistance Brigades or SFABs. With Army Green Berets being overtasked in deployments, Miley wanted to create conventional brigades of advisors who can work with allied conventional units to fill in the gaps. The SFAB personnel go through “a rigorous two-day Selection and Assessment” followed by a six-week shake and bake Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA).
Originally, the plan was to issue the SFAB an olive-green beret. That looked too similar to the one that Special Forces wear and it unleashed a shit-storm of epic proportions. Former 5th SFG (A) Green Beret, Derek Gannon began an online petition and he eventually spoke with Miley. The SFAB will now be issued a brown beret and an “Advisor” tab at the completion of the MATA Academy.
And because, as Bymer added, Special Operations (SOF) PSYOP has higher requirements than the conventional counterpart, including their own selection and assessment, airborne status, increased task skills, increased physical fitness requirements, and language training, the SWCS is considering a DUI for PSYOP.
But don’t PSYOP units assigned to a SOF unit and on jump status, already wear the maroon beret? Apparently, the Army that hated berets of any kind just a generation ago, is now so in love with them that everyone not only gets one, but gets their own color too.
And as much as they are trying to downplay the discussion, the picture from SWCS tells us that where there’s smoke there’s fire. Soon formations are going to resemble a bag of Skittles at Ft. Bragg.