“What’s in a name?” Some guy wrote that in the 16th century, and yet its truth rings out truer than any performance given by a high school rendition of the world’s most infamous love story. A prime example can be found in the name Brown Berets. Depending on who you ask, you’ll find that the Brown Berets were a political and cultural movement, a part of the Army, or even a squadron in the U.S. Air Force. But today, our focus is on the term’s place in the military and how Brown Berets have helped protect our nation in many different ways.
Who Were the Brown Berets?
There are at least three answers as to who the Brown Berets were and are. Here’s a breakdown:
- The Brown Berets, also known as Los Boinas Cafés, is a pro-Chicano organization and movement birthed in 1967. There’s a lot to unpack there, but we’re here for the military application of the term.
- The history of Brown Beret (Army) involves the Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs). These are units that specialize in advising, assisting, accompanying, enabling, and conducting training for America’s allies.
- In a similar manner, the 6th Special Operations Squadron in the U.S. Air Force (USAF), a unit that has been activated three times in history to assist in conflicts America finds itself in, is also known as the “Brown Beret” squadron.
Both the Army and USAF provide invaluable support to our allies, and ultimately, these collaborations help make the world a safer place from those who wish to cause harm to others.
What Is a Brown Beret in the Army?
Out of Fort Benning in 2018, the 1st SFAB hosted an activation ceremony stating that “SFAB Soldiers will be on the ground with their partners – fighting side by side with them in all conditions, so the brown beret symbolizes dirt or mud akin to the ‘muddy boots’ moniker given to leaders who are always out with the troops.”
This was a particularly important aspect of the work Soldiers carried out due to the Global War on Terror. Although the U.S. has dialed back its efforts in the Middle East, American Forces persist in fighting terrorism in the region and all over the world by helping other nations.
An Army Brown Beret is an expert in controlling warfare on land and uses their skills to position allies to do the same against common enemies.
The 6th Special Operations Squadron
Similar to those donning brown berets in the Army, the 6th Special Operations Squadron (6 SOS) in the USAF assisted mightily in many conflicts, including the War on Terror.
Its latest rendition lasted from 1994 until being shut down for the third time in 2022. The job of a Brown Beret in many cases was to act as a combat aviation advisor, which helped boost the aerial capabilities of American allies in the region.
This shift is one of many the U.S. military has experienced lately as the focus moves to more conventional warfare tactics rather than fighting insurgencies and terrorist cells.
How To Join the Brown Berets
While joining the Brown Berets in the Air Force is currently not possible, if you’re looking to join the Security Force Assistance Brigade as a Soldier, here are the criteria laid out by the branch:
- To be assigned to an SFAB, Soldiers must be in an MOS allowed by the SFAB Mission Task Order of Element (MTOE).
- You’ll need to be fully deployable.
- Your PULHES can’t be higher than 111221.
- You have a score of 240 on the APFT, with at least 70 points for each event.
- Soldiers must obtain a secret clearance and pass an Official Military Personnel File check for derogatory information.
No matter which branch, one thing persists through it all, and that is Brown Berets. Both groups that don the name help make the world safe on a global scale in areas of conflict and turmoil where their skills are needed the most.
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The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. | Photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick | 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs