An outside petition is calling for restricting who can wear the tan beret in the U.S. Army to soldiers in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The petition was posted on www.change.org by a group called SOF Alumni, for Special Operations Forces. As of Tuesday, it had more than 2,700 signatures. The news was first reported by Michelle Tan of Army Times.
Specifically, the petition seeks to "limit the receipt and wear of the tan beret only to those who have successfully graduated the 75th Ranger Regiment's Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP)."
Members of the Ranger Training Brigade, which administers the Army's Ranger School, a combat development course that takes place at several locations, including Fort Benning, Ga., are allowed to wear the beret -- even though they're technically part of a separate organization that doesn't deploy to combat, according to the petition.
"Due to the vague language in the order that authorized tan berets, soldiers who have not completed RASP wear the same headgear that the Rangers of the 75th Regiment earned by passing the official selection process," it states. "This generation of Rangers that have only known combat deserve to have a truly distinct symbol of their dedication and sacrifice. The tan beret is that symbol."
Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for the regiment, said the unit is aware of the petition being done by an unaffiliated organization, but "it's not something we're behind or supporting," according to the Army Times article.
It's the latest kerfuffle involving the beret in the Ranger community. The controversy dates back to around 2000, when then-Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who's now head of the Veterans Affairs Department, allowed most soldiers to don the black beret, which Rangers had worn for decades in an unofficial capacity.
Shortly thereafter, the 75th Ranger Regiment switched to the tan beret.