A Question for Soldiers:

On the train home tonight, I saw but did not have a chance to talk with a Major of the Special Operations Command. He was in his BDUs, with both the "AIRBORNE" shoulder sleeve insignia and wings. But he was wearing a black beret.

Now, I don't claim to understand this whole "beret" thing you guys do anyway (though I do get the Smokey Bear, A.K.A. the "Campaign Cover," A.K.A. a "Montana Bash" hat), but I thought I knew that Airborne soldiers wore maroon berets. I didn't see a Ranger or SF tab on the guy's uniform, but I thought he would still get the Airborne beret. Or are these things issued only to units designated as Airborne (e.g., 18th Airborne Corps, 101st Airborne Div), without regard to the individual soldier's accomplishments?

I ask because heraldry is a hobby of mine; and I remember the furor when they went to issuing black berets, which had been the symbol of the Rangers before. Now I'm wondering if even Special Operators are being told to wear the "standard" beret, or if I just don't understand the rules the Army plays by with regard to its headgear.

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