From Ranger Jim Grimshaw, President of the U.S. Army Ranger Association
October 20, 2000
SUBJECT: Black Beret
The U.S. Army Ranger Association (USARA), an organization composed of Rangers from all eras and units, considers the Army's decision to issue the black beret to all soldiers detrimental to the morale, prestige and honor of Rangers past, present and future. The black beret traditionally worn by Rangers, like the green beret of Special Forces, must be earned by successfully meeting the highest standards, not merely being issued for showing up for duty.
When General Creighton Abrams, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, reestablished the 75th Rangers, he insisted that becoming a member of the Rangers must require rights of passage. Thus the Ranger Indoctrination Program was born and the presentation of the highly valued black beret to each graduate as a symbol of their being permitted to join the finest Infantry unit in the world. To award this treasured symbol to every soldier in the Army flies in the face of General Abrams' well reasoned decision.
USARA sadly concludes that you were ill served by your advisors. Making the black beret the headgear for all soldiers is, in our judgment, the contemporary version of white washing rocks in the company area. Denigrating a symbol of excellence will not by any stretch of the imagination improve the morale of soldiers or compensate for soldiers being forced to do too much with too little.
With all due respect, you have cast doubt upon the wisdom and effectiveness of the current Army leadership. Your action is reminiscent of former conventional Army leaders whose misunderstanding of the value and purpose of elite Rangers resulted in a high casualty rate and eventual unit deactivation.
If this is the vision of the Army in the future, then the vision is severely blurred. You cannot expect to instill the same pride, motivation and skill of Rangers throughout the rest of the Army simply by issuing a black beret. All you will succeed in doing is take away the heart, soul and elite status of the Rangers.
If it is deemed so necessary to Army morale and readiness to issue berets to all soldiers, regardless of skill or assignment, then we respectfully urge you to select another color.
There is no necessity to take an honored and earned symbol away from those who are the spearhead for this nation.
USARA will continue to voice its strong opposition to this matter with the express purpose of forcing a change of policy.
Strongly recommend this decision be reversed immediately!
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!
Ranger Jim Grimshaw
President, U.S. Army Ranger Association, Inc.