or /ˈBer-EHT/ in English
, except in the USA
, where it is usually pronounced /ber-EHT) is a soft round cap
, usually of wool felt
, with a flat crown, which is worn by both men and women and traditionally associated with France
Berets are worn by many military and police units, and in some countries are particularly associated with elite units, who often wear berets in more unusual colours (such as the maroon of Commonwealth parachute troops and the German Kommando Spezialkräfte KSK, the green of the Royal Marines Commandos, French Commandos (Bérets verts), and United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets), the scarlet of the elite Soviet Internal Troops (Spetsnaz), the beige or tan of Commonwealth special forces units (SAS) and U.S. Army Rangers, or the wide black of French Chasseurs alpins, the first military unit to have worn berets.
Wearing the beret
The beret when properly worn fits snugly around the head, and the soft crown can be shaped in a variety of ways – it is commonly pushed to one side (local custom usually prescribes which side, but there is no universal rule). Berets were originally worn by Northern Basque peasants
(from the border area of Southern France, and Northern Spain) and were knitted from wool
. Today berets are normally made from woven wool
, wool felt
, or acrylic fibre
.Uniform berets feature a headband or sweatband attached to the wool, made either from leather or silk, sometimes with a drawstring allowing the wearer to tighten the hat. The drawstrings are, according to custom, either tied and cut off/tucked in or else left to dangle. The beret is often adorned with a cap badge
, either in cloth or metal. Some berets have a piece of buckram or other stiffener in the position where the badge is intended to be worn. Berets are also often lined with silk, imitation silk, or other material. Though in some militaries the liner is removed in order to shape (called "forming") the beret, this is usually done without permission from a superior officer because it impedes its head-warming capacities.In military berets, the headband is turned down (which makes it visible); but, in the Basque-style beret (also worn by selected military units such as the Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais
), it is usually folded in.
Berets in the military
Berets have been a component of the uniforms of many armed forces throughout the world since the mid-20th century. A light blue beret is the international symbol of the United Nations Peacekeeping
forces. Military berets are usually pulled to the right, but the armies of some European countries (including France) have influenced the pull to the left.
The use of berets as a military headdress dates back to the creation of the French Chasseurs alpins in the early 1880s. These mountain troops were issued with a new style of uniform which included several features which were very practical and advanced by the standards of the time, notably the large and floppy blue beret which they still retain (see below). This was so unfamiliar a fashion outside France that it had to be described in an British encyclopedia in 1911 as ''"a sort of tam o'shanter hat".
Berets have features that make them very attractive to the military: They are cheap and easy to make in large numbers, they can be manufactured in a wide range of colours to enhance branch or regimental esprit de corps, they can be rolled up and stuffed into a pocket without damage and they can be worn with headphones (this is one of the reasons why tank crews came to adopt the beret). However, they are not so useful in field conditions for an infantryman, as they do not offer the protection for the face against sun and rain that a peaked or wide brimmed hat does.
The beret was found particularly useful as a uniform for armoured vehicle crewmen, and the British Tank Corps (later Royal Tank Corps) adopted the headdress as early as 1918. German AFV crews in the late 1930s also adopted a beret with the addition of a padded crash helmet inside. The colour black became popular as a tank crew headdress since it did not show oil stains picked up inside the interior of a vehicle. Black berets continue to be worn by armoured regiments throughout the Commonwealth.
Berets have become the default military headdress of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, just as the tricorne, shako, kepi and peaked cap were in various early eras. The beret is now worn by elements of the military personnel of the majority of nations across the world. The three major hold-outs were the United States, Russia, and China (PRC) - all have now followed the example of the other armies in adopting berets.
Berets are worn by some units in the Argentine Armed Forces, with distinctive colours for some units or functions. The beret colours are as follows:
Berets are worn by all corps in the Australian Army, with distinctive colours for some units:
Black berets are worn in the Royal Australian Navy, and blue berets in the Royal Australian Air Force, but only by qualified Airfield Defence Guards and Ground Defence Officers. Terracotta berets are worn by Multinational Force and Observers contingents. In all cases, the beret is pulled to the right and a badge worn above the left eye.
Berets are common in most parts of the Army, and are usually worn for special occasions, but also regularly by certain forces.
- Grass green — Infantry, all troops that do not wear another colour
- Olive green — Jagdkommandos
- Black — Mechanized troops, anti-tank troops, artillery, reconnaissance, combat engineers
- Wine red — Jägerbataillon 25 (paratroopers)
- Scarlet red — Guard of Honour
- Coral red - Military Police
- Yellow green - Sports Center of the Army
- Pike grey - NBC Defence School
- Rust brown - Signal School
- Navy blue - Logistics School, Mission Support Command (Kdo Einsatzunterstützung)
- Blue UN
- Black - Armoured corps-Black
- Bangladesh Green - Infantry
- Dull Cherry - Army Medical corps
- Scarlet - Military police
- Royal Blue - Engineers
- Royal Blue - Service corps
- Dark Blue - Education corps
- Dark Blue - Electrical and mechanical engineers
- Dark Blue - Ordnance
- Dark Blue - Artillery
- Dark Blue - Signals
- Dark Blue - Army Dental corps
Berets have been worn by Belgian military
personnel since World War II. Berets vary in colour according to the regiment, and carry a crest pin (sometimes on a coloured background patch) which is of gold colour for officers, silver for noncommissioned officers and bronze for troops. Members of cavalry units all wear silver crest pins.
- Beige - Light Infantry Units
- Blue - Cadets of the Military Institute of Engeneering - IME
- Black - Armoured troops, Mechanized Infantry, BOPE
- Camouflage - Jungle Troops (Amazonian Region)
- Dark brown - Special Operations Group
- Grey - Mountain Infantry
- Maroon - Paratroopers
- Royal blue - Army aviation
- Scarlet red - Military academies and students of Colégio Militar (elementary and high school).
- Green - All other Army units
Berets have been worn by Bulgarian
military personnel since 1991. Berets vary in colour according to the military branch, and carry a crest pin (sometimes on a coloured background patch) resembling the unit's insignia.
Berets were first worn in the Canadian Army
in 1937 when tank regiments (at that time part of the infantry) adopted the black beret of the Royal Armoured Corps
. The black beret, which is now the headdress of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
(RCAC), was first worn by the Essex Regiment (Tank), now renamed The Windsor Regiment (RCAC). This was because the other new tank units were ordered to wear the headdress that they had while serving as infantry. The Essex Regiment (Tank) was a new unit, formed as a tank regiment, with no connection to the Infantry. As such, it picked the headdress that was worn by the Royal Tank Corps of the British Army
During the Second World War, a khaki beret was adopted throughout the Canadian Army, with the Canadian Armoured Corps (later Royal Canadian Armoured Corps) wearing the black beret and parachute troops wearing the maroon beret adopted by British airborne forces. The 2nd Canadian Parachute Battalion (the Canadian component of the First Special Service Force) wore a red beret with the dress uniform. Wartime berets were much fuller in cut than postwar berets.
After the Second World War, a series of coloured berets were adopted, with infantry regiments wearing scarlet, rifle regiments wearing dark (rifle) green, the armoured corps wearing black, and other arms and services wearing midnight blue berets, with a large coloured "flash" in corps colours - dull cherry for the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, Emerald Green for the Royal Canadian Dental Corps, etc. The coloured flashes were not popular and replaced in 1956 with forage caps bearing coloured bands in corps colours. The midnight blue beret itself was retained, however.
When the Canadian Forces unified in the late 1960s, the rifle green beret was adopted as the CF standard. The RCAC successfully fought to retain its distinctive black beret, and the Canadian Airborne Regiment wore the maroon beret until the unit was disbanded. Scottish and Irish infantry regiments wear tam o'shanters, glengarries, balmorals or caubeens instead of berets. The berets listed below are the current standard:
The beret is used with service dress as formal headdress (especially after the move away from the forage cap in the 1990s) as well as with CADPAT clothing as garrison dress and as a form of combat dress. In certain cases the beret is even used as Ceremonial Dress, most commonly in units of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.
Berets in Chilean Army:
- Black - Special Operations Forces, Commandos and Paratroopers.
- Red/Maroon - Armoured Corps.
- Green - Mountain troops.
Berets in Chilean Navy
- Black - Missile Craft and SSK's crew
Berets in Chilean Air Force:
- Dark blue — Ground troops.
China, People's Republic of
Since May 5
, the People's Liberation Army
has adopted woolen berets for all its personnel, along with the traditional peaked caps
- Olive green — Ground Force
- Dark blue — Navy
- Black - Marines
- Blue-grey — Air Force (including Airborne troops)
- Red -- CAPF Provincial Women Special Police Corps
- Dark blue -- Public Security Police SWAT
Berets are worn by all personnel of the Colombian Army
) and certain members of the Navy (Armada
), with distinctive colors for some units or functions. The beret colors are:
- Black — Lancero Instructors; Airborne Navy Marines (Infantería de Marina)
- Green — Members of Counterguerrilla Units
- Maroon — Special Forces (Comandos)
- Sky Blue — Airborne School Instructors
- Pewter Blue — Members of the BRECNA (Brigada Especial Contra el Narcotráfico)
In the Croatian Army
berets are used in special forces and guard brigades.
- Black - 1st Guard Brigade "Tigers"
- Green - 2nd Guard Brigade "Thunders"
- Dark Grey - 3rd Guard Brigade "Martens"
- Red - 4th Guard Brigade "Spiders"
Also dark blue beret is used in Croatian Navy.
The Armed Forces of the Czech Republic
use berets for both battledress
and display uniform. The colour of the beret is defined by the branch of the armed forces. The beret displays the small state coat of arms and the badge of rank of the individual.
- Orange — Civil defence troops, Engineering Brigades
- Maroon — 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade (Airborne), 601st Special Forces Group
- Dark green — Reconnaissance troops
- Light green — Other ground forces (mechanised infantry, armour, artillery, NBC protection, etc.)
- Dark blue — Air Force
- Grey — Logistics, Medical troops
- Black — Military Police
The Royal Danish Army uses berets for all its personnel. The Navy and Air Force also use berets.
- Green — Support troops; artillery; signal (EW); engineers; Army Home Guard; Infrastructure Home Guard
- Red — Military police
- Maroon — Jægerkorpset ("Hunter Corps", army special forces)
- Black — Combat troops (armour, recon and infantry)
- Dark blue — Royal Danish Navy; Marine Regiment (now disbanded, former part of army); Naval Home Guard
- Light Blue Gray — Royal Danish Air Force; Air Force Home Guard
- Light blue - Army Aviation (now disbanded)
Berets are worn by all personnel of the Ecuadorian Army (Ejército) and certain members of the Navy (Armada) and Air Force (Fuerza Aérea), with distinctive colours for some units or functions. The beret colours are:
- Black — Military Police; Navy Marines (Infantería de Marina)
- Red — Paratroopers and Special Operations Forces
- Dark blue — Army Aviation (Aviación del Ejército); Air Force Aerial Infantry (Infantería Aérea)
- Dark green — all other Army units
- Gray — for use with the dress uniform (4-A) for those forces using the dark green beret
- Camouflage — IWIA (indigenous tribal members unit) forces
The Finnish Defence Force uses berets with cap badges for the Army, Navy and the Air Force. The berets are worn in "clean" garrison duties such as roll calls and with the walking-out uniform, but not with the battle dress. Until the mid-1990s, the beret was reserved for troops with special status, such as the coastal jägers and the parachute jägers, but is nowadays used by all units. In the winter, berets are replaced by winter headgear.
Berets are also used by the Finnish Frontier Guard, which is a military organization under the aegis of Ministry of Interior during peacetime.
- Olive-green (Badge: silver lion's head) — Army
- Olive-green (Badge: golden lion's head with a crown) — Finnish Rapid Deployment Force and units abroad
- Blue (Badge: Air Force insignia) — Air Force
- Blue (Badge: silver griffin) — Army aviation
- Blue (Badge: Harp and sword) — Military bands
- Dark blue (Badge: Anchor and Lion) — Navy (including coastal troops, but with the exception of coastal jägers)
- Black (Badge: Armored head) — Armoured Brigade
- Green (Badge: Golden sea eagle's head) — Coastal jägers
- Maroon (Badge: Arrow and parachute) — Parachute jägers or special jägers (Utti Jäger Regiment)
- Olive-green (Badge: Golden bear's head, sword and fir tree twig) — Frontier jägers
- Brown (Badge: Golden bear's head, sword and fir tree twig) - Special Frontier jägers
The military beret originated in the French Army, in the form of the wide and floppy headdress worn by the Chasseurs alpins (mountain light infantry) from their foundation in the early 1880s. A tight-fitting version was subsequently adopted by French armoured troops towards the end of World War I. Between the wars, special fortress units raised to garrison the Maginot Line wore khaki berets as did the 13th DBLE of the French Foreign Legion when it was created in 1940. The beret in red, blue or green was a distinction of the Metropolitan, Colonial and Foreign Legion paratroop regiments during the Indochina and Algerian wars. After 1962 the beret in either khaki or the colours specified above became the standard French Army headdress for ordinary use.
With the exception of the Naval Commandos whose beret emulates the British Commando beret and is worn pulled to the right with the badge worn over the left ear and the Naval Fusiliers commandos also part of the French Navy, all other French berets (Army, airforce and gendarmerie GIGN) are pulled to the left with the badge worn on the right side over the eye or the temple.
- Wide Navy blue — Chasseurs alpins and other mountain troops (the wide beret's nickname is the tarte (tart)) also worn with a white cover.
- Green (badge on the left)— Commandos Marine , Naval commandos "Special forces"
- Green (badge on the right) French Foreign Legion Etrangere(infantry ,airborne,engineers,armoured)
- Dark blue — Air Commandos; Troupes de Marine: all other army troops and Gendarmerie special forces GIGN (anti-terrorist units) and EPIGN (paras)
- Dark blue - (badge on the left) Fusiliers marins Commandos
- Red — Paratroopers "metropolitan" and "de marine" ex colonial" (except the Foreign Legion) (this colour is called amarante)
- Electric "royal" blue — Army Light Aviation ALAT aviation legere de l'armee de terre
- Black - Military schools/colleges and "Tradition" RCC Regiment de Chars de Combat (Tank / Armoured)
- Brown - "Tradition" 2nd Reg hussards with embroided badge.
The German Heer
uses berets with cap badges for every branch of service. The Luftwaffe
and the Navy
issue navy blue berets only to their ground or land combat units (called Luftwaffensicherungstruppe
). Berets are usually worn at special ceremonies and roll calls, although units with a special esprit de corps
, especially armoured and mechanized infantry (Panzergrenadiere
) battalions, wear their berets all the time. German berets are always pulled to the right, with the badge visible over the left temple.
- Black — armoured units, including armoured reconnaissance and the now disbanded Panzerjäger (anti-tank)
- Maroon — special units, including airborne troops, army aviation, Airmobile Operations Division (DLO; Division Luftbewegliche Operationen), and Division Special Operations (DSO; Division Spezielle Operationen), including the KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte)
- Red — support units, including artillery, engineers, intelligence, psychological operations (Operative Information), anti-aircraft, supply, NBC protection, signals, electronic warfare, transport, topography, and military police (Feldjäger)
- Moss green — infantry units, including Jägertruppe, Panzergrenadiere (armoured infantry), and ceremonial guards (Wachbataillon des Heeres); military bands
- Dark blue — medical units
- Navy blue — Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Deutsche Marine (Navy) infantry and ceremonial guards; Offizieranwärterbataillon (Officer Candidate Battalions of the Army) multinational units (e.g. Eurocorps)
The beret colours worn by the Hellenic Army
are as follows:
- Light blue — Presidential Guard
- Black — Armoured Corps
- Green — Special Forces (including Commandos, Marines and Parachute despatchers/riggers)
- Dark red/maroon — Army Aviation
- Bright red/scarlet - Airborne troops
- Dark Blue - All other Arms and Corps when in number 8a 8b and 8c Service Dress.
When in fatigue tigerstripes the camouflaged cap is worn instead of the dark blue beret.
The beret colours worn by the Hellenic Air Force are:
- Blue-grey (same colours as RAF) - Air Force Underwater Operations Squadron
- Dark red/Maroon - Air Force Special Operations Squadron
Berets currently in Hungarian military:
- Black - Armoured Units
- Crimson - Military Police
- Green - Paratroopers
- Scarlet - Artillery
Icelandic armed services commonly use berets.
The beret is the standard headgear for the Indian Army
. Berets are worn by officers and other ranks
, apart from Sikhs
, who wear turbans
. The beret colours worn by the Indian Army are as follows:
- Green — Infantry regiments (except light infantry and rifles)
- Dark (rifle) green — Light infantry and rifle regiments
- Maroon — The Parachute Regiment and Special Forces
- Black — Armoured Corps
- Grey — Army Aviation Corps
- Scarlet — Corps of Military Police
- Navy blue — Other corps and regiments
The beret is the headgear of ground forces and military police in the Indonesian Armed Forces.
- Dark Red - Special Forces
- Dark Green - Infantry (including Airborne and Raider units)
- Black - Cavalry
- Moss Green - Artillery
- Steel Gray - Combat Engineers
- Aquamarine - Army Military Police
- Purple (Magenta) - Marine Corps
- Light Blue - Naval Military Police
- Orange - Air Force Special Troops (PASHKAS)
- Dark Blue - Air Force Military Police
Ireland (Republic of)
The beret colours worn by Óglaigh na hÉireann (The Soldiers of Ireland) are as follows:
- Black with red patch behind capbadge — Permanent Defence Forces
- Light green with bottle green patch — Reserve Defence Forces
- Bottle green — Army Ranger Wing (Sciathán Fianóglach an Airm)
- Red — An Cor Póilíní Airm (Military Police)
All personnel wear a common capbadge, a sunburst insignia with the letters "FF" inscribed above the left eye of the beret; this is the ancient symbol of the Fianna, the elite forces of Irish.
Israeli Defense Forces soldiers wear berets only on formal occasions, such as ceremonies and roll calls, and in disciplinary situations such as courts martial and imprisonments. The beret is placed beneath the left epaulette. The beret colors are as follows:
personnel used to wear a garrison cap
alongside the combination cap, until the early 1970s when the garrison cap was replaced by the beret. Until the early 1980s the general Army colour for the beret was khaki, the black being reserved to armoured units. The colours presently used are:
- Maroon — Paratroopers
- Blue — Army aviation
- Black — all Army units, except the above-mentioned ones
- Green — Navy (Comsubin) and Army Special Forces (Incursori)
- Teal blue — Air Force guards
- Red — Carabinieri Hunters and Tuscania Squadron (Military Police Special Raid Units)
- Dark green — GICO and other specialized units in Guardia di Finanza
All members in the Ground Self-Defense Force are authorized to wear wool rifle green berets - referred to as the "ベレー帽" (ベレーボウ or bereebou) - as an optional head covering for dress, working and camouflage uniforms since 1992. However, it is normally considered a special dress item, worn for public relations events or parades. An embroidered goldwork cap badge representing the JGSDF logo identical to the one used on the service dress peaked cap is required by regulation to be affixed to the beret.
Berets are worn by some units of the Malaysian Armed Forces
. The colours presently used are:
In the Mexican Army
, the beret is worn by:
- Maroon — Paratroopers
- Black — Special Forces Units (GAFE)
In the Mexican Navy:
When the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces
acquired new modernised uniforms (designed by the Dutch couturier Frans Molenaar
) in 2001, the berets changed as well. Since 2004, soldiers of the Royal Netherlands Army
have worn a petrol (blue-green) beret, whereas previously they wore brown.
The following colours are also used (before and after the modernisation):
The only Dutch military units that do not wear a beret are the Gele Rijders (Horse Artillery), who wear a blue garrison cap with yellow trimming.
All regiments and services have their own distinctive colours. There are quite a lot, but the number of colours in the logistic services was reduced in 2001. This colour is shown in a patch of cloth behind the beret flash. The intendance (maroon), transport troops (blue), military administration (pink; hence the nickname 'Pink Mafia'), technical service (black), and medical troops and service (green) lost their colours and all now wear yellow patches.
- Infantry — Red, except:
- Grenadier Guards — Red with blue border
- Rifle Guards — Green with yellow border
- Fusilier Guards — Orange with blue border
- Regiment van Heutsz — Black with orange border
- Limburg Rifles Regiment — Green with maroon border
- Korps Commandotroepen — Black with dark green border
- Cavalry (Armour) — Blue with white, red or orange border
- Cavalry (Reconnaissance) — Blue with black border
- Artillery — Black with red border
- Engineers — Brown
- Signals — Blue with white border
- Logistics — Yellow
- Legal Affairs — Black with white border
- Psychological and Sociological Service — Red
- Protestant Chaplains — Black
- Catholic Chaplains — Blue
- Jewish Chaplains — Black
- Humanist Society Chaplains — Bright green
- Hindu Chaplains — Bright blue
- Troops in Initial Training — Red
- Royal Military Academy Cadets — Red with yellow border
- Physical Training Instructors — Blue
- Technical Staff — Maroon
All infantry Battalions in the New Zealand Army wear rifle green berets, except for the Special Air Service, who wear a sand or ERCW colour. Soldiers belonging to service corps wear dark blue, whilst members of the armoured corp wear black Personnel of the Royal New Zealand Air Force wear dark blue, while the Royal New Zealand Navy wear black.
The Norwegian armed forces use the beret as a garrison cap, but some units (mostly armored vehicle personnel) also use it in the field. The Norwegian beret and all other headwear except those of the Navy always have the current king's cipher as a badge in gold (most of the army) or silver (the air force); currently this is a numeral 5 inside an H, for "Harald V". The navy has a crowned gold anchor for their enlisted personnel, a crowned gold anchor surrounded by a circle of rope for their petty officers, and a crowned golden anchor surrounded by leaved branches for officers. The colours used are:
The special operations units of the Navy wear the same berets as the rest of the navy. However they have a coloured patch behind the cap badge, the colour of which determines the unit:
Black berets were introduced before World War II
for tank and armoured car crews. During World War II, berets were widely adopted in the Polish Army
on the Western Front
, armored troops - black, airborn - grey, commando - green. After the war in the communist era, berets were worn only by armoured units (black), navy for field and work uniform (black), paratroopers (maroon), and marines (light blue). After 1990, the beret became the standard headgear in the Armed Forces of Republic of Poland. The following colours are in use:
Berets in other units
- Light Green - Border Guards
- Navy Blue - Police anti terrorist units
The black beret is also the distinctive headgear of World War II veterans, particularly Armia Krajowa veterans.
In the Portuguese Armed Forces
, the following berets are in use:
Until 1975, the following berets were also in use:
Until majority rule ended its existence in 1980, the Rhodesian Security Forces wore the beret as the primary working dress and service dress headgear. Berets were colored according to unit or service branch, with a distinctive regimental cap badge pinned above the left eye.
- dark green -Rhodesia Rgt, Rhodesian African Rifles
- green -Rhodesian Light Infantry
- beige -Rhodesian SAS (Special Air Services)
- "sand" (a dull brown shade) -Selous Scouts
- gray -Grey's Scouts
- black -Rhodesian Armored Car Rgt
- dark blue -those units without a distinctive beret
- blue-gray -Rhodesian Air Force
- brown -Rhodesian Guard Force
- red -Rhodesian Ministry of Internal Affairs
- bright blue -Psychological Operations
- maroon -Medical Corps
Russian military structures (both Armed Forces and Internal Troops) use the following types of berets:
- Sky blue — Airborne troops (VDV)
- Black — Marines, Special Militia Units (OMON)
- Dark green — Special Units of FSB Border Troops
- Rust red — Special Units of Interior Ministry Troops (MVD)
- Orange — Search and Rescue and Emergency Ministry troops (EMERCOM)
- Cornflower blue — Federal Protection Service (FSO)
- Camouflage — non-regulation, but often seen at the Red Square parades
The Serbian Armed Forces
wear berets in the following colours:
- Green — Army
- Black — Military Police
- Maroon — Special Forces
- Steel blue — Air Force
- Navy blue — Navy
The Singapore Armed Forces
adopts the beret as their standard headgear. The different color divisions are as follows:
- Green — Infantry
- Black — Armour
- Khaki — guards
- Red — Commandos
- Dark Blue — Combat Support (such as Signals, and Logistics), Artillery & Navy
- Air Force Blue — Republic of Singapore Air Force (contrary to its name, the beret is closer to green in color)
The berets are all adorned with the Singapore Armed Forces coat of arms, with the exception of the Air Force beret and navy beret which are adorned with their respective cap-badge. Officers in the navy have a different cap-badge from the enlisted men. COL and above too has a different cap-badge
Black — armour
Dark Green - Special forces
Green — Military Police
Black - Armour units
Maroon - Infantry
Dark blue — Navy units
Light blue — Air force
Grey - Mountain units
Sand - NBC units
Red - Guard unit
The South African Army
wears the beret as its standard headgear. The different color divisions are as follows:
The berets are all adorned with the unit's insignia. Some of the traditional units wear other headgear - for example, the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment and the South African Military Health Service.
Berets are mostly limited to the elite units of the South Korean Military
Other than these units, several secret commando units (mostly disbanded in the mid-1990s) formed to infiltrate North Korea during the Cold War days wore black berets and adorned them with the badges of individual units. Korean liaison soldiers serving in the U.S. Eighth Army (KATUSA) have also been wearing black berets along with American uniforms since that beret became a standard headgear of the U.S. Army in 2001.
As of 2006, there have been several proposals within the Korean Ministry of Defense to replace the current field cap with a dark-coloured beret as the standard army headgear.
South Vietnam (defunct)
- Red — paratroopers, Rangers
- Green — marines, LLDB
- Maroon — rangers
- Black or Green — special forces
- Black — palace guards
- Tan — political officers
Only the elite forces wear berets in the Sri Lanka Armed Forces
The beret is used in the various armed forces
. The colours used are:
- Black (earlier dark blue) — armoured/mechanised units; and Life Guard regiment infantry.
- Maroon — Parachute Ranger School (FJS)
- Bright red — Army - and Navy musicians
- Dark green — Cavalry, which includes the army ranger battalion, the ISTAR-unit, Airmobile battalion, military police and the ceremonial guard. Also worn by the Airforce Ranger unit.
- Commando Green — Amphibious Corps (Marines and Commandos)
- Dark blue — All army units, apart from armoured, cavalry, FJS, musicians and Homeguard. Also worn by all airforce personnel, except the airforce rangers and aviators.
- Bright blue — Helicopter Flotillia (helicopters)
- Brown — home guard
The beret is worn by all police and military personal.
The beret is worn by all Swiss armed services
, as well as various cantonal police forces and customs.
- Green — infantry
- Red — artillery
- Dark red — rescue troops
- Black — armoured and mechanised units; signals and headquarters troops
- Claret — mechanics; logistics troops; maintenance troops; territorial troops
- Grey — "Military Security": military police, fortification maintenance personnel, NBC specialists, special military security (Festungswachkorps)
- Deep blue — Air Force (including paratroopers)
- Light blue — medical and veterinary personnel
- Yellow — military observers on OSCE missions
The beret is used in the various armed forces of Thailand. The colours used are:
The black beret is also worn by ordinary police in certain situations.
- Black — Armored vehicle personnel
- Green — Gendarmerie
- Light blue — Commandos
- Maroon — Special forces
The British Army beret dates back to 1918 when the French 70th Chasseurs alpins were training with the British Tank Corps. The Chasseurs alpins wore a distinctive large beret (see above) and Major-General Sir Hugh Elles, the TC's Colonel, realised this style of headdress would be a practical option for his tank crews, forced to work in a reduced space. He thought, however, that the Chasseur beret was "too sloppy" and the Basque-style beret of the French tank crews was "too skimpy", so a compromise based on the Scottish tam o'shanter was designed and submitted for the approval of George V in November 1923. It was adopted in March 1924.
During the Second World War the beret was also adopted by the Commandos and Parachute Regiment. Later in the war, a rather baggier beret-like hat, called a General Service Cap, was issued to all ranks of the British Army (with RAC, parachute, commando, Scottish and Irish units excepted), to replace the earlier Field Service Cap. The GS Cap was not popular, and after the war was replaced with a true beret.
Today, every British military unit wears a beret, with the exception of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and Royal Irish Regiment, who wear the tam o'shanter and the caubeen respectively (the Scots Guards and Irish Guards, however, wear berets, as frequently do the Royal Irish Regiment on operations). Many of these berets are in distinctive colours and all are worn with the cap badge of the service, regiment or corps. The cap badge for all services in the UK is supposed to be worn directly over the left eye.
The colours are as follows:
- Khaki — Foot Guards, Honourable Artillery Company, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Royal Anglian Regiment, Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, Royal Welsh, Yorkshire Regiment, Mercian Regiment, 4/73 (Sphinx) Special OP Battery Royal Artillery
- Light grey — Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
- Dark grey — Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
- Brown — King's Royal Hussars, Royal Wessex Yeomanry
- Black — Royal Tank Regiment, W (Westminster Dragoons) Squadron, Royal Yeomanry
- Dark (Rifle) green — The Rifles, Royal Gurkha Rifles, Small Arms School Corps, Essex Yeomanry, King's African Rifles
- Maroon — Parachute Regiment, All ranks serving with 16 Air Assault Brigade other than the non Parachute Regiment Infantry Battalion(note that the beret is not restricted to Parachute qualified personnel).
- Beige — Special Air Service including attached troops who are not SAS-qualified
- Lovat Green - Special Reconnaissance Regiment
- Cambridge blue — Army Air Corps
- Cypress green — Intelligence Corps
- Scarlet — Royal Military Police
- Green — Adjutant General's Corps (except Royal Military Police, who wear scarlet; Army Legal Services Branch, who wear black; and Military Provost Staff, who wear navy blue), Military Provost Guard Service
- Navy blue — Generic: worn by all other Army units (except Scottish and Irish line infantry regiments), Royal Navy, Royal Marines who are not commando-qualified
- Commando green — commando-qualified Royal Marines, Commando qualified personnel of all services serving in Commando units, Special Boat Service
- RAF blue grey — Royal Air Force (including RAF Regiment)
Some Regiments and Corps wear a coloured backing behind the flash, these include:
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the only remaining independent fusilier regiment, wears a feather hackle on the beret. Other ranks of the Royal Welsh also wear hackles.
Members of the Royal Tank Regiment, 4/73 (Sphinx) Special OP Battery Royal Artillery
, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Army Air Corps, Parachute Regiment, SAS and Intelligence Corps wear berets in Nos 1, 2, 3 and 6, Dress. Other Regiments and Corps wear peaked caps in these orders of dress . Troops from other services, regiments or corps on attachment to units with distinctive coloured berets often wear those berets (with their own cap badge). Colonels, brigadiers and generals usually continue to wear the beret of the regiment or corps to which they used to belong with the cap badge distinctive to their rank.
Former regiments and corps, now amalgamated, that did not wear navy blue berets included:
- Khaki — Green Howards, King's Own Royal Border Regiment, Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire, Duke of Wellington's Regiment, Reconnaissance Corps, infantry motor battalions in World War II
- Dark (Rifle) green — Light Infantry, Royal Green Jackets, Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, Rifle Brigade, King's Royal Rifle Corps, 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles), 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles, 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles, 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles
- Black — all Royal Armoured Corps regiments in World War II, Westminster Dragoons, Berkshire and Westminster Dragoons
- Maroon — Glider Pilot Regiment and glider-borne units
- Green — Women's Royal Army Corps, women in Officers Training Corps (now wear navy blue)
- Brown with a broad crimson headband and NO hat badge - 11th Hussars (PAO)
Berets were originally worn by elite forces in the United States Army. Hence, there was controversy when in 2001 the United States Army adopted the black beret, previously reserved for the Rangers, as standard headgear for all army units. The Rangers are now distinguished by tan berets. The United States Army Special Forces are generally known as "Green Berets" for the color of their headgear. Soldiers in airborne units wear distinctive organisational flashes. Conventional forces wear a pale blue flash with thirteen white stars. Officers wear their rank emblem within the flash, while enlisted ranks wear their distinctive unit insignia. United States Army units can be distinguished by the color of their berets, as follows:
The wearing of berets in the United States Air Force is less common, but several career fields are authorized to wear berets of specific colours, as follows:
In the United States Navy, female servicemembers may wear a black beret (of a different style than most military berets) instead of a combination hat or garrison cap while in service uniforms.
- Navy Blue - Armed Forces Headquarter (Minister Of Defence troops)
- Red - Presidential Guard
- Maroon - National Guard
- Navy Blue - Army Headquarter
- Black - Army general use
- Red - Airborne Brigade (Army)
- Green - jungle troops, counter-insurgency troops (caribes), special froces units (Army)
Berets in other paramilitary organizations
The navy blue beret is the standard headgear of officers of the Police Tactical Unit
of the Hong Kong Police Force
. Officers are nicknamed the "Blue Berets" or the "Blue Caps".
Cadets, Riot unit and the members of the Special Operations Unit of the National Commissioner of Icelandic Police
) wear black berets. High ranking members of the Reykjavík Air Rescue Unit are entitled to wear orange berets.
Dark blue berets are worn by the Polizia di Stato
and blue berets by the Polizia Penitenziaria
Dark blue berets with Black Hackle are worn by all the regular aviations of Royal Malaysian Police including Suksis. For paramilitary organizations consisting of General Operations Forces, the berets worn by the units is Dark blue with Khaki Hackle for ceremony, and the paramilitary Senoi Praaq Brigade wear maroon berets also with Khaki Hackle. The dark blue berets with Light Blue Hackle was worn by Marine Police Branch and high school student's Royal Police Cadet Corps. The anti-riot Federal Reserve Units (FRU) wearing the red berets with black hackle.
The berets also worn by Police Counter-Terrorism Forces, such as operators of Pasukan Gerakan Khas, the main anti-teror special forces. Some sub-units of the PGKs, including the Special Actions Unit (UTK) wearing the maroon berets and VAT 69 Commandos worned tan (sand) berets, berets which honored by British 22nd Special Air Service. The newly maritime anti-teror special force, known as Unit Selam Tempur and United Nations police branch wearing the light blue berets.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (Coast Guard) operators wear black berets. Other security organisation like Pertahanan Awam/ Civil Defence, their personel wear the orange beret and RELA personel wear the yellow beret.
The Polish Police Anti-Terrorist Units wear dark blue berets. Dark blue berets are also worn by other Police special units such as pyrotechnics. Polish Border Guards wear light green berets.
The Polícia de Segurança Pública
(PSP) Intervention Corps wear navy blue berets, the Personal Security Corps (Corpo de Segurança Pessoal
) (VIP bodyguards) wear sky blue berets, CIEXSS teams (explosive disposal) wear black berets, and the PSP Special Operations Group
wear emerald green berets.
The Guarda Prisional (Prison Guards) wear black berets.
The members of the paramilitary Rescue Corps of the Portuguese Red Cross wear purple berets.
Until their disbandment in 1975, the Angola and Mozambique paramilitary civil defence volunteers wore black berets.
Black berets were worn by all members of the Singapore Police Force
until 1969, when the peaked cap
was introduced. The beret was, however, retained for specialist forces, such as officers of the Special Operations Command
(SOC) and the Police Coast Guard
, as well as the Gurkha Contingent
. A dark blue beret is worn, although the Police Tactical Unit
of the SOC switched to red berets in 2005. The Gurkha Contingent began wearing khaki-coloured berets from 2006.
Members of the Singapore Civil Defence Force attached to a headquarters element, or on overseas missions, also wear black berets. These are adorned with the SCDF crest, and may sport a flash in certain specialist units, such as the Rescue Dog Unit and the elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.
Auxiliary police officers of Certis CISCO and Aetos Security Management don dark blue berets when performing escort and other high-risk duties, as do specialist forces of the Singapore Prison Service. In addition, student cadets of uniformed youth organizations such as the National Police Cadet Corps and the National Cadet Corps also wear berets of different colours.
The Special Task Force of the South African Police Service
wear camouflage berets.
Several police SWAT
teams belonging to different municipalities wear either maroon or green berets; Seoul Metropolitan Police SWAT team (Unit 868) wears maroon berets, while Incheon
Metropolitan Police SWAT team (Unit 313) wears green berets.
The beret, boina in Spanish or txapela in Basque, was introduced into Spain during the First Carlist War.
The Chapelgorris (from Basque txapel gorri, "red beret") were a Isabelline troop, but later the red beret became a symbol of Carlism
The red beret became a Falange symbol when Carlism was merged into it after the Spanish Civil War.
Today the Basque police force, Ertzaintza, wears red berets, as did their Miquelete forebears
ETA guerrillas may wear black berets over hoods in public appearances.
The Special Task Force
of the Sri Lanka Police
wear green berets.
, the armed response unit of the London Metropolitan Police
, used to wear dark blue berets, and were nicknamed the 'Blue Berets'. Today, they generally wear helmets or baseball caps.
Berets in civilian organizations
Aside from armed forces, berets are associated with a variety of other different organizations.
- Berets are worn by some scout groups, notably in Hong Kong and Britain, where green berets are worn, Thailand, where khaki berets are worn and in Poland where berets in different colors are one of few caps . The British and Hong Kong Air Scouts wear blue berets. The official Scouts Canada uniform included a beret between 1968 and 1998 (it was green until 1992, then navy blue). It is slowly making a comeback among the older members in various forms, such as red for Rover Scouts in British Columbia. The Boy Scouts of America are authorized to wear a red beret, although the BSA itself no longer makes them and very few scout troops or scouts wear them. The Girl Scouts of the USA have worn green berets that often led to members of rival military units reminding the United States Army Special Forces of the fact.
- In Britain, berets are worn by the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC), Army Cadet Force (ACF), Air Training Corps (ATC) and Combined Cadet Force (CCF). These are in the appropriate service colour, with ACF and CCF Army Section units wearing the beret of the regiment or corps to which they are affiliated. Some Cadet units who are affiliated to the Rifles regiment are permitted to wear the 'Back Badge'.
- Berets are worn by the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. They wear the same color as their affiliated regular force unit, unless there is no affiliated unit, in which case a black beret is worn.
- Navy blue berets have been the standard headdress of the Royal Canadian Legion as well as other veterans' groups in Canada. Members of the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association wear a blue beret with a white crown.
- The Guardian Angels have adopted a red beret as a recognizable item of clothing
- Some security companies in Hong Kong such as Securicor wear berets.
- Members of the youth committee of the Mexican Red Cross used to wear a red beret, and black berets were worn by parachutists of the same institution. These were phased out in 2006, when a new uniform was issued.
- Sousaphone players in marching bands typically wear berets because the regular combination cap would get in the way of the bell. All members of the Ohio State University Marching Band wear scarlet berets with a "Diamond Ohio" flash when not wearing their uniform hat (essentially, whenever they are outdoors and not performing).
- Tuba (and, until 2000, contrabass bugle) players in the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps wear berets instead of the traditional shako as not to interfere with their instrument.
- Most active members and supporters of the Black Panther Party wore a beret, generally either black or red.
- Members of the Civil Air Patrol who attend National Blue Beret (NBB) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin during the EAA AirVenture airshow can earn blue berets along with the Saint Alban's Cross, and the title of Blue Beret. Members of the Indiana Wing who achieve the classification of Ground Team Member level 3 (GTM3) are also awarded blue berets.
- Members of the Civil Aid Service in Hong Kong were black berets as part of their uniform.
- In Peru, the Music Band of Colegio San Ignacio de Recalde uses green berets as part of their uniform. Their website is
- Members of the Assemblies of God boys program Royal Rangers typically wear a beret as a part of their class A and Class B dress uniforms, with specific color and symbols dependent upon the age group.
Berets (chapelas, from Basque txapela) have become the standard headgear of the Castilian peasant.
In the Basque Country, a commemorative beret is the usual trophy in sport or poetry competitions, including Basque rural sports or the Basque portions of the Tour de France.
The Basque word for "champion", txapeldun, literally means "the one in a beret".
The beret was once considered the national hat of France and is part of the stereotypical image of the Onion Johnny. It has diminished in popularity, just as hats for men all over the world have waned in popularity, since about 1960. Still considered a matter of French pride, it is worn by both women and men. Black is the traditional colour. There are only two manufacturers left in France, and a few fly-by-night manufacturers elsewhere, that make berets. Sizing is still a problem, because American sizes and European sizes do not match exactly, and the approximate sizes—S, M,L,XL— that are most commonly offered for sale are a poor approximation of either: European size 59 (59 cm) is approximately American size 7 3/8 and is between M and L.
The beret is also a stereotyped trademark of film directors, artists (particularly painters), intellectuals, Bohemians, and Beatniks of any nationality.
Schoolgirls often wear berets with their school uniforms. When searching for a suitable style of beret to be worn by the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), the French Chasseurs alpins was rejected as being too big. The RTR selected a model worn by a Girls School.
Some British comedians have been identified with the beret; Chris Langham is recorded as having announced to actor Ken Campbell that he has named the tassle or stalk which is present in some berets the langham, after himself. Michael Crawford also wore a beret as Frank Spencer. Other entertainment figures identified with the beret include Jamie Hyneman of MythBusters, and Fred Berry who played Rerun in What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!! (as well as in real life). It is said that Groucho Marx wore a beret that he could carry in his pocket to avoid tipping hat-check girls when he went to restaurants and night clubs.
The beret is sometimes worn simply as a fashion statement.
Famous people who have worn berets include