Bye-bye, beret: Switch to patrol cap brings mixed feelings
June 23, 2011
By Cursha Pierce-Lunderman, Fort Jackson Leader
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Last week, after 10 years of the beret, the patrol cap became the official headgear of the Army Combat Uniform again. But, Fort Jackson Soldiers should not pack away their berets so quickly.
The beret will be required headgear for the Army Service Uniform and worn with ACUs at the discretion of unit commanders.
“This is not the end of the beret,” said Post Command Sgt Maj. Brian Stall. “Installation-hosted events like retirement ceremonies and graduations will still require berets as part of the uniform.”
In Fort Jackson’s case, Stall said, the post command has issued guidance Thursday that the patrol cap would now be Soldiers’ official headgear.
Fort Jackson Soldiers have mixed opinions on the beret transition. Some Basic Combat Training Soldiers are happy that the berets will continue to be worn.
“I’m excited to wear the beret,” said Pvt. Anthony Sanchez of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. “It looks much better than the patrol cap and makes you look like a professional Soldier.”
One noncommissioned officer had a different opinion.
“The patrol cap is a natural extension of the ACU pattern,” said Staff Sgt. Emmett Jarvis of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment. “The beret just sticks out with the ACUs. I am not a fan of it, but if we have to wear berets at all, then it should be with a dress uniform.”
A few employees at the Clothing Initial Issue Point welcome the change in headgear.
“I try to have my Soldiers looking perfect when they leave here, but these berets make my job tough sometimes,” said Jean Talford. Talford and other fitters at the CIIP are responsible for issuing clothing to every training Soldier at Fort Jackson.
The staff clothes an average of 1,000 Soldiers each week. Essie Smith, CIIP manager, said that this change in headgear will not affect their operations at the clothing facility.
“This is a minor issue and will not change how we operate at all,” Smith said. “We give every Soldier two berets and two patrol caps anyway. They did have better berets back in my day, though.” Smith served in the Army from 1973-1980 and has worked with clothing issue for 30 years.
Another ACU change offers Soldiers the option to sew on name tapes and badges. When the Army switched to the ACU, name tapes and badges were affixed with Velcro instead of being sewn on. Badges such as those for Airborne and combat action, will also be authorized to sew on. However, combat and unit patches and the U.S. flag will continue to be affixed with velcro.
These uniform changes stem from the groans of many Soldiers over the years.
“I think the Soldiers have screamed, ‘This is what we want,’ and now the Army is making it happen for them,” Stall said. “Now we will enforce proper wear of the patrol cap, but I’m sure the Soldiers will meet the standards.”
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