Recently, the US Army unveiled its new beret for its new unit— the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (1st SFAB), and many are not happy as it’s too similar to the one worn by the Army’s Greet Berets.
The defense has so far been a weak claim by the army that the 1st SFAB is “olive drab” while the Green Beret’s hat is a “true green.”
The Army has previously stepped on long-held tradition when, in 2001, the Chief of Staff General Eric Shineski gave the command to have all US Army soldiers wear black berets—which were (and are) traditionally worn by the 75th Ranger Regiment.
His decision wasn’t rescinded for a decade, when non-special forces soldiers began wearing standard patrol caps again. (Above: the new beret for the 1st SFAB; to the left, Green Beret soldiers wearing their long-standing traditional caps.) The current choice of hat has come from General Mark A. Milley.
Unfortunately, the beret isn’t the only source of controversy for the new unit.
In addition to the all-too-similar hat, the unit’s patches (shown on the left) and mission are also nearly identical to that of the MACV-Recondo patch used in Vietnam by SF soldiers (shown on the right), as well as including a tab that states “Combat Advisor”; originally it was “Advise-Assist”.
Also, the 1st SFAB’s nickname, “The Legion” has traditionally been associated with the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group. There appears to be nothing new or unique about the new unit’s mission or uniform.
One active-duty Special Forces NCO currently assigned to 5th Special Forces Group has stated, “I’m shocked and disappointed [by the SFAB’s beret]. It disrespects our green berets and detracts from President Kennedy’s intent when he first approved the wear of the green beret. This is a symbol of a legacy that has been created by the sweat and blood of thousands of men. It’s earned, not given away.”
He was especially angered by the 1st SFAB’s nickname, which some in his unit perceived as especially insulting. “To call themselves ‘The Legion’ is disrespectful to 5th Group.”
The argument for all of the similarities is that the 1st SFAB is meant to address the fact that Special Forces units have been stretched thin in their numbers and are unable to act in their roles of advising and support. SFAB is meant to “pick up the slack”.
It seems a better answer would be to recruit more fully-capable soldiers into the Special Forces units (the 1st SFAB is an all-volunteer unit of currently-serving soldiers; there is no special training course they must pass like those who serve with Rangers and Green Berets must go through.)
Below: Recruiting video for the 1st SFAB.
What do you think about the new unit and its liberal “borrowing” from tradition?
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