From Ranger Emmett Hiltibrand, President of the 75th Ranger Regiment Association

October 24, 2000

General Shinseki

Greetings from the Ranger community. Allow me to begin by assuring you that the intent of this letter is meant to be amiable in nature and not hostile. It is imperative that we address this beret issue in a mature and responsible manner so that we can collectively arrive at a win / win situation. The Ranger community has traditionally and historically adopted a supportive posture for the active duty component and continues to pledge our undying effort to this worthy cause. I wish I could say our present philosophy is not intended as an adversarial one, but in retrospect of recent events I feel that statement would be untrue.

The Ranger community that has united in a stand on this beret issue has a rich and colorful background. This includes but is not limited to the Merrill's Marauders, the World War II Ranger Battalions, the Ranger Infantry Companies Airborne of the Korean War, the 75th Ranger Regiment Association of the Vietnam War along with the current day Rangers and the United States Army Ranger Association. We additionally enjoy the undaunted alliance of the Special Forces and the Airborne communities. This does not even begin to take into account the families, friends and the amazing amount of our fellow Americans who have rallied to our side to voice support of our cause. In actually, this regrettable incident has served as a galvanizing effort we have not seen the likes of.

As the President of the 75th Ranger Regiment Associations I desire a desistance of your planned Army wide beret action or at a minimum an amenable compromise. We firmly believe that when this beret issue has been completely thought through that you will agree with us that a supplementary course of action would decidedly produce a more desirable effect. You must surely realize that a unilateral issuance of a uniform item will not instill professionalism over the entire spectrum of the Army forces. The current status of the Army as is that of the entire Armed Forces of the United States has been in a retrograde motion for a long time. This predicament did not occur over night and therefore a quick fix or gimmick will not reverse this downward trend.

I've read your career profile, which I commend you for. Though it is more on the staff side of the house than usual it is most impressive. You have had ample command leadership positions to realize the basic principles of preparatory planning for the successful conclusion of tasks and missions.

This most recent revelation of yours to turn the Army around is commendable if not inspiring. Actually, considering where it is now and where you envision it, I would venture to say it would be a monumental feat. I've heard that geniuses never make a mistake because they realize the perspicacity of the error before they make it. Guess I've never known a genius before. All the men I know have made a mistake or mistakes sometime in their lives. I have found the measure between a real man and one of lesser stature is the amount of time from when he recognizes his error to when he rectifies it. What will your time line tell us about you General? We look to you for your astute guidance in resolving this issue in a most expeditious manner.


Emmett W. Hiltibrand - President
75th Ranger Regiment Association