Small Wars Journal

Army to Ditch Beret, Don Stetsons

Fri, 04/01/2011 - 7:46am
Your official US Army news for 1 April, 2011:

WASHINGTON, APRIL 1, 2011 -- In a fingertip-to-the-brim nod to its American frontier history, the Army is changing hats again - returning to the tumultuous days of the horse Cavalry in the wild west and adopting a dark blue Stetson as the official headgear for the current force of 1.1 million Soldiers.

"We figure the Stetson will be popular with the troops," said Sgt. Maj. Bob S. Stone, Army Uniform Board headgear task force president. "It's been a while since we have changed the headgear, so it's time. Plus a Stetson is functional and down right American."

But reminiscent of the controversial switch from the garrison cap to the black beret, the Army faces opposition from one community deeply opposed to losing its special identity with the Stetson - the Armor branch.

"Why in the heck are they doing to us what they did to the snake-eaters?" asked one officer familiar with the board's deliberations. "If you ain't Cav, you ain't ought to be wearing a Cav hat. That just ain't right."

Effective date for Stetson wear is April Fool's Day, 2012.


Harrietta (not verified)

Sat, 04/02/2011 - 11:42pm

It seems pretty obvious to me that the announcement is a joke because the effective date is April Fools Day 2012. Nevertheless, I cannot resist this opportunity to comment on the beret. It is my opinion, that the beret is impractical for two reasons; it doesnt have a liner to protect ones hair from being rubbed away due to the abrasive wool and during the scorching hot summer months, it serves as a" heat casualty enhancer" that doesnt block the sun out of the eyes of the service members that wear it while participating in traditional Army ceremonies.

However, if we must continue to wear the beret, I think it should be worn with the Army Service Uniform only during the winter months since it is made of wool I consider it to be cold weather headgear.

I vote "NO" Stetson bring back our beloved patrol cap. We should go back to wearing the patrol cap with our utility uniform (ACU) and be uniform with our sister services. It is much more practical especially for outdoor ceremonies in the summer. As for the Stetson replacing the beret, I really do not see it being any more practical than the beret other than its ability to keep the sun out of ones eyes.


Sat, 04/02/2011 - 10:33pm

I find it more than interesting how so many threads/issues on blogs, discussion boards, and general internet dialog among military types seem to eventually focus on the military's senior leaders. Surely someone, somewhere, must be taking notice.
Can so many people be so far off track or are there legitimate problems among our corps of senior officers?
Considering the absolutely minimal contact our senior officers actually have with "the rest of us", the fact that they receive the bulk of the comments rather than LTs, CPTs, MAJs, etc, is peculiar to say the least.

Dave (not verified)

Sat, 04/02/2011 - 2:27pm

Todd, I understand what you are thinking about noise discipline, but if you were in Velcro noise range of the enemy..... Chances are your hands would be on your weapon and not reaching in your pocket!! Just a thought. We used to get shit about electric razors in a patrol base in the early 90's for the same reason. An electric razor makes a lot less noise than a metal razor banging off of a canteen cup. Again, if we were forward the FFL and that close to the enemy, would we really be shaving? Ever since the last Infantry SMA, it seems that from SMA Hall forward we've only cared about the uniforms we wear.... To make people feel extra special! The only one that made sense was the changing of the cotton gray PT's to the current ones. All of the other changes are GARBAGE and a waste of the Soldiers money!!!!

Demon Fox

Sat, 04/02/2011 - 1:18pm

Personally, I kinda liked the old garrison khaki uniforms the Army wore back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. :-)

I'm sure many agree with me that the adoption of the black beret by the Army was not only a slap in the face to the Ranger Regiment, but also completely non-functional. It's adoption was a matter of "style" and "vanity".

I agree with Chris: patrol cap or boonie cap. You know, something that actually keeps the sun and rain off your face! I've worn the maroon beret and the green beret in my career, but we normally wore patrol caps until someone told us we HAD to wear our berets. It's a matter of functionality.

I think the biggest travesty was the adoption of the ACU pattern. Along with the black beret, this proved beyond a doubt how far out of touch with reality the senior Army leadership is. I can't believe that someone was able to dupe a bunch of generals into believing that the ACU pattern would camouflage soldiers in the field. MAYBE if they were lying on a gravel pile?!? I personally believe there should be criminal charges brought for endangering our soldiers. But, I'm sure some senior officers and other officials made a good profit off the production and sale of this ineffective pattern. When CAS aircraft - thousands of feet overhead - can actually get visual on friendly positions because of how starkly they contrast to the terrain, then there is a serious problem!

FINALLY, they have come to some sense and begun issuing Multi-Cam to soldiers in the field. Maybe now the enemy won't see them so easily.

Let's talk about the style of the ACU uniform. Lots of velcro all over, zipper, etc. Guys, what is your opinion on this? The wife sure hates how they stick together in the wash! :-) I found it very interesting that the SOF community has for decades modified BDUs and DCUs with pockets on the sleeves, etc. to make the uniforms more functional. These modifications often led to rebukes from conventional Command Sergeants Majors they ran afoul of. Lo and behold, the Army adopts the ACU with similar modifications.

As for the velcro . . . In early 2009 the USASFC CSM visited my unit and had a forum with the unit's senior NCOs. We had about a 30 minute discussion on the ineffectiveness of the ACU pattern and future USASFC initiatives to fix this problem. I made a comment to the CSM about how all the velcro is not exactly conducive to noise discipline. My question was purposefully leading and I was very interested in hearing his response. Unfortunately, his response was exactly what I was expecting: he replied that the noise factor was irrelevant due to SF's current TTPs of mounted operations. Translation: the SF senior leadership was unwilling to entertain any other methods of operations aside from mounted assaults. No outside-the-box thinking allowed.

Does anyone else see a problem here?



slapout9 (not verified)

Fri, 04/01/2011 - 12:57pm

Forward Hoooo, somebody say Amen!!! about damn time they fixed this stuff. Now if they just stop wearing this "sugar in my gas tank" designer fatigues and start wearing green ones again everything will be fine. Army men are supposed to be Green!

I say we go with the Aussie style hat, like the one worn in "Rat Patrol" (yes, I'm old enough to remember that show).

Sam (not verified)

Fri, 04/01/2011 - 10:08am

Dave -
Having just put 1CD in my rear-view mirror, no one has a better appreciation for how ridiculous the stetson is as an official headgear.
That said, relax! This was a joke and one that was needed. For an Army that has been "going at it" for 10 years now - with all the serious and relative discussion here and elsewhere - it is nice to see a moment of levity in all this.
So sit back, close your well-worn copy of "Accidental Guerrilla" for a moment, and thank the anonymous Specialist for providing a pretty funny piece of work!

Dave (not verified)

Fri, 04/01/2011 - 9:42am

To Anonymous et al: The fact that we have to seriously ask if this is an April Fool's Joke is a testament to the collective lack of common sense decisions made at senior levels. If it is a joke posted by Army Public Affairs this should probably be reflected on their OER & NCOER. If it is a joke the Army Public Affairs Office can afford to be downsized because they obivously have too many people w/ too much time on thier hands to be able to do all the photoshop work necessary for the attached pics. Not to mention the cycle time required to proof and edit an "Official" Army Press release. Bottom Line: If its a joke someone deserves a GO Letter of Reprimand and a 15-6 for Waste Fraud & Abuse. If its not a joke I need to start drafting a letter to me Congressional Delegation.

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 04/01/2011 - 9:20am

This is an April Fool's Day joke. . .yes? : )


Fri, 04/01/2011 - 8:47am


What happen to just plain common sense? Go back to the patrol cap, for God's sake! Maybe even a boonie cap. Let's give our soldiers a uniform hat that makes sense in any environment. The beret is useless and the Stetson not for field wear.

If we go to the Stetson, the entire duty uniform should go to Class B's at a minimum.

This whole discussion it out of control. Let's bring some common sense to the talks.