Haters of the U.S. Army's standard black beret (and there are many) are finally at ease: It will be replaced by a patrol cap for everyday wear.
Soldiers have been complaining about this particular uniform requirement ever since it was introduced 10 years ago. There are even Facebook groups devoted to the topic -- for instance, Please ... Get Rid of the Black Beret in the US Army.
But what exactly is so very offensive about the black beret? How could such a small, seemingly innocuous piece of clothing be at the center of so much controversy?
Actually, that's precisely the point: The beret is -- at least from a functional standpoint -- a completely useless piece of gear, particularly for those soldiers who have to work outside in hot temperatures. It provides little to no protection from sunlight or heat; moreover, it doesn't absorb sweat effectively. Here's one solider putting it more candidly:
I hate wearing a wet sock on my head ... Plus it makes head/skin break out.
Ick. This new headgear policy is sounding better by the moment!
The change came about in response to a survey of soldiers' opinions, which found that soldiers across the board consistently complained about the berets and said they wished they could wear patrol caps with their uniforms. As such, the beret will still be part of the Army's dress uniform, but will no longer be worn in the field.
Another group that is all-too happy about the uniform change? The units that have long worn berets as a mark of distinction, including Special Forces, all airborne troops, and Army Rangers. Here's one member expressing his frustration with the berets on the Facebook page (obviously prior to the change):
The ENTIRE Army getting the beret was stupid from the start. And it angered those of us in other branches of service that EARNED our berets. Now any Tom, Dick, or Sally sitting behind a desk gets to wear one.
No official date of implementation has been released -- for many soldiers it sounds like it can't come too soon.
Image via US Army Africa/Flickr