Some soldiers are ditching the black beret

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

FORT BENNING, GA (WXTX) - On the 236th birthday of the U.S. Army, many soldiers are saying good-bye to part of their uniform to save the Army millions of dollars.

Soldiers wear many hats, but the black beret has been an iconic symbol of the Army for a decade.  Now, many soldiers will be taking off their berets and instead reaching for their patrol caps.  Major Raj Ambay says he is happy with the change.

"A patrol cap is a lot easier to take care of.  It doesn't get fuzzy.  It fits in your pocket.  All around, I think it is more functional, and I think if you talk to most military folks when you get into the field functionality trumps the way it looks," said Ambay.

By allowing soldiers to wear their patrol caps every day to work in, the Army will now only give 1 beret per soldier instead of 2.  Fort Benning says this can save the Army and taxpayers about $6 million.

Also, after a survey, the Army found many soldiers complained the wool berets were uncomfortable, hot, and not practical for everyday wear.  Major Noel Thomas agrees sporting his patrol cap.

"It is cooler than obviously the beret.  So I like that part of it.  And, also, it's a lot easier to put on with one hand versus the berets where you usually need two hands to situate it properly," said Thomas.

The black beret has been a required part of the day-to-day camouflage uniform for soldiers across all units for the past 10 years. Now, Ambay says he respects his leaders for making this change.

"Other than cutting down on some of the gears that's issued, I would rather have them give us better gear than worry about whether we should wear wool or a patrol cap."

Fort Benning says the black berets will still be required for dress uniforms and during special ceremonies like a change of command or a parade.

We are told the change will not affect special forces who will still wear green berets, while Airborne troops will still wear maroon ones, and Rangers will keep their tan berets.

Copyright 2011 WXTX. All rights reserved.