A Special Forces NCO

Dear Sirs,

I am a special forces medic (18D) with almost 13 year in service, 11 of that in SF. I just returned from recent readiness exercise at Ft. Benning, GA where my team and I had the privilege of working beside our brothers-in-arms the 75th Ranger Regiment specifically 3/75 RGR Bn. Although there has always been some "sibling rivalry" amongst SF and the Rangers over many warrior specific topics ranging from who has the toughest qualification course to get "tabbed" who is more likely to win a bar fight or which unit is best suited to tackle a SOF specific mission; the comforting fact remain that most SOF unit members while enraged at this recent flip fashion decision to adopt the coveted black beret as the universal mark of distinction for the Army are doing their best to exhibit self-restraint, discernment, patience and honor-- just a few of the many traits that factor into our guiding ethic of "Quiet Professionalism"

I agree with your stance on morale and I also share the opinion that it is going to take more than the wearing of new distinctive headgear to improve the morale, effectiveness, espirit-de-corps and quality of life in our post-drawdown skeleton crew manned Army.

The entire Ranger Regiment is under a gag order to remain silent on the beret issue and has been instructed by their chain of command respond with "no comment" to all press inquiries, so much for First Amendment rights. The SF community would be equally pissed off if our badge of distinction authorized by President Kennedy in the early 1960s were to stripped from our heads or shared with the masses that have not been put to the test and the and have passed our unique standards.

I say this not to slight Gen. Shinseki or the soldiers in our conventional units but it is my firm belief that this change in headgear is simply going to tell and prospective soldiers that we no longer encourage efforts above and beyond the norm to join the ranks of the elite sectors of our force. In time this pervasiveness of granting "instant eliteness" to all soldiers will spill over to our sister services and erode their proud heritage as well.

I believe the SOF and Airborne communities will continue to excel as always but it sure does sting when slapped in the face with issues like this.

The endstate of our decade long downward spiral to military mediocrity is almost complete.

De Oppreso Liber!

A Special Forces NCO SFC George E. Natvig Jr.