By Buddy Blouin
In most cases, you wouldn’t mistake the U.S. military for a fashion show, and yet if you look at the various berets troops wear, you’d swear someone didn’t get the memo. But why are there so many colors, and what is the significance of the military beret? Why do some wear them while others forgo the attire? We’re here to break down this interesting piece of military culture, starting with what is arguably the most famous of them all.

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The Most Common Military Beret: What Branch of Military Is Green Beret?

The U.S. Army's Special Forces Soldiers are known as Green Berets, as they don hats that have produced their namesake. It’s arguable to say which military beret is the most famous among the American Armed Forces, but if not the iconic green military beret, then which one? To wear a green beret, you must have earned the Special Forces Tab from completing the Special Forces Qualification Course at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Even if you are no longer operating in Special Forces, you are permitted to wear the green beret for the rest of your military career. The military beret being used in the U.S. goes back to World War II, but after a uniform switch in the Army dating back to 2001, it became a staple. Each color signifies its own meaning and qualification. While the Navy has previously used both a black military beret and camouflaged berets, the use by Sailors has been phased out over the years. They are no longer part of their uniform.

The Other Colors of Berets in Army

The beret in U.S. military uniform history is an iconic look. We’ve already covered green berets, but there are many other colors at play here.

Black Berets

Today, the black beret is worn by all Soldiers in the U.S. Army. Should a Soldier earn another color by becoming a part of the Special Forces, they would then wear the other color in place of black.

Maroon Berets

Note: This isn’t a red military beret. The U.S. Army Airborne is wearing maroon. It’s yet another iconic look, as the maroon beret represents a Soldier equipped to handle any operation successfully.

Tan Berets

Before 2001, the U.S. Army Rangers were known for their black military berets. After becoming the standard for the rest of the Soldiers serving, they adopted the tan look currently in place.

Air Force Berets

Soldiers aren’t the only ones wearing the military beret as a part of their uniform. Airmen also have their own. Air Force Special Forces berets come in many different colors and signify different functions in the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

Black Berets

In the USAF, to wear a black beret, you’ll need to be a part of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). The TACP helps direct firepower through various collaborative operations both within the U.S. military and with other nations.

Blue Berets

The blue beret belongs to the U.S. Air Force Security Forces. These Airmen are wearing the most common military beret in the service. Blue Berets are the Military Police of the USAF.

Grey Berets

If you’re good, and we mean really good, at surviving in the worst conditions on the face of the Earth, you can join the U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. You’ll then be qualified to survive the elements and rock a grey beret to prove it.

Maroon Berets

You’ll find the U.S. Air Force Pararescue wearing maroon berets as part of their uniforms, and it’s a designation that doesn’t come easily. Just to qualify, you’ll have to complete training that causes more failure than nearly every other course in the military. This is not a path for the faint of heart.

Pewter Grey Berets

While you won’t likely find Airmen in the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Weather on your local news before work, these expert weathermen can do much more than tell you whether or not to pack an umbrella. Their operations mean facing some of the harshest weather conditions on the planet with training to match.

Scarlet Berets

Members of the U.S. Air Force Combat Control enjoy the scarlet beret look. Operators connect the ground with the sky and ensure that collaborations are maximized for mission success.

How To Wear a Military Beret

The military beret hat is an undeniable look for service members, and wearing one correctly is imperative to show pride in your force. You’ll want to check in with your superiors, as there can be differences among forces and branches for how to wear your beret; however, the uniform policy’s FAQs from the Army is a great resource.

Suggested read:

What to Know Before Joining Special Forces Training

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. Photo by Sgt. Paige Behringer 49th Public Affairs Detachment



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