From Reinaldo A. Rios, C Co., 2/75 Ranger (1985-89)

October 22, 2000

Dear Sir,

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 gold.

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.

Sua Sponte!
Rangers Lead the Way!

Very Respectfully Yours,

Reinaldo A. Rios
C Co., 2/75 Ranger (1985-89)