From Reinaldo A. Rios, C Co., 2/75 Ranger (1985-89)
October 22, 2000
I was outraged by what I heard today, October 18th, on
National TV. The decision to issue "black berets" to
all U.S. Army soldiers is disrespectful specially of
those Rangers that did not return whole or at all from
the field of battle. I know that the military is not
a democracy but some things you just can't ignore.
We Rangers are three (3) time volunteers. We
volunteer when we enlist in the Army, when we become
paratroopers, and when we become Rangers. We have
pledged to be more elite soldiers and we have accepted
the fact that our country expects us to move further,
faster and fight harder than any other soldier. We
have earned time and time again the right to be
distinguished by the black beret and the black and
If this decision remains it will have a detrimental
effect on the "espirit de corps" and morale of young
Rangers on active duty and we veterans cannot let them
down. In these trying times our nation needs
motivated Rangers, just like it did during World War
II, Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Grenada, Panama, Iraq and
Somalia. I'm sure that this decision was influenced
by commanders with no previous SOF time. I wonder
what our fellow Green Beret brothers think about this
decision? Many of whom wore the black before green.
Why doesn't the DA issue Jump Wings and Ranger Tabs to
the rest of the Army while they are at it?
What is happening to the U.S. Army??? I recently
heard that the DA is thinking about lowering basic
training standards including drill sergeants toughness
on new recruits to see if more join the Army and
eventually become "soldiers." What are we trying to
raise a generation of "wet nose" troops??? Lowering
the standards is not the answer. It is better to have
a small highly motivated and capable force than half a
million wet noses that could not fight their way out
of a wet paper bag. How do you think that Arab,
Russian, North Korean, Serb, or Chinese infantry are
going to treat our troops if they ever have to face
them in battle again??? They are not going to be
"nice" to them and neither should our drill sergeants
during their initial introduction to the Armed Forces.
Look at the Israely Army. They are a small but very
capable force. Since 1948 they have kept at bay much
larger Arab forces. They did not do it by training
wet noses or by lowering standards. An army does not
get anywhere by lowering standards. Soldiers are
supposed to be tough and so should their training.
The Black Beret issue is part of the erosion that is
going on in the Army with standards. The Army is not
just lowering the standards to have the right to wear
the coveted black beret, it is now just giving it
away! Hell, the Ranger Training Brigade (RTB) even
removed desert training as one of the phases of Ranger
School. So it is happening to elite units also not
just to regular troops.
The whole SOF community should stand together on the
beret issue. We veteran Rangers should write to every
non active duty SEAL, Green Beret, Pararescue men,
CCT, TF160 aircrews, and Force Recon we can muster.
If it happens to us their distinctive uniform
insignias or head gear could be next.
What are we trying to do, look like the British? The
British have very capable troops and a long proud
tradition. However, this is not the British Army and
we should not be trying to look like them. They and
other armies have their traditions and we have ours.
In our Army the beret is reserved for elite units.
We none active duty Rangers will fight on the Ranger
objective on this one and complete the mission for our
fellow active duty brothers.
If regular Army troops want to wear the black beret
I'm sure the Ranger Training Brigade will offer them
the opportunity to earn one. Army standards should
not be lowered they should be raised! The U.S. Army
Ranger Regiment is the most capable infantry force in
the world. Since before World War II it has set the
standard for all infantry units in our Army. Don't
disgrace their hard work and honor by letting this
decision stand. The U.S. Army should continue
distinguishing those soldiers that go the extra mile
for their county and not the other way around.
Rangers Lead the Way!
Very Respectfully Yours,
Reinaldo A. Rios
C Co., 2/75 Ranger (1985-89)