Thursday, April 19, 2018
Military News

Howard Altman: Army settles flap over who will wear the Green Beret

I have a hard time picturing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, a no-nonsense guy with plenty on his plate, taking time out of his busy day sorting through color swatches.

But thanks to one of two recent victories in the battle for Army tradition, he’s doing just that.

The Army recently moved to reserve the Green Beret for Special Forces. And it’s brought back the once-controversial name of Psychological Operations, or PSYOPs, to designate units that use information to manipulate adversaries.

Milley’s date with cloth samples involves the former, thanks in no small measure to one of my ex-Green Beret buddies.

The beret dustup centers on a new unit, called the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, one of six such brigades being created by the Army to help augment the role of Green Berets in advising and assisting foreign forces.

There is no flap over the unit itself, which everyone agrees is needed. But the matter of what they will wear on their heads exploded in controversy, according to military.com, after an image of an olive-greenish beret surfaced online indicating it would be worn by the 1st SFAB.

That image enraged the Green Beret community, because of the work it takes to become a member of Special Forces. And it led Gannon, a former member of the 5th Special Forces Group, to create a change.org petition that quickly drew nearly 90,000 signatures and prompted a phone call from Milley.

"I started it to bring to light the collective disapproval of what we clearly felt was a unit co-opting our heritage and lineage," Gannon told me. "I think the petition had a dramatic effect. It showed the command, active, and veteran community, what it is like to collectively meet in the middle and politically come together in a united front."

In the wake of Gannon’s petition, Milley reached out not just to him, but to the Army community writ large to explain that the Green Beret will be worn only by Special Forces.

Milley is awaiting swatches in varying shades of brown to consider for the SFAB beret, according to Military.com.

The other victory for tradition involves those who use information against adversaries.

In 2011, Adm. Eric Olson, then commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, directed that the term PSYOP be changed to military information-support operations, or MISO, according to the Army.

To the PSYOP community, MISO was soup at best, and a capitulation to critics at worst. But that recently changed back, sort of.

PSYOP now refers to the name of units and personnel while MISO refers to the function being performed, said Army Lt. Col. Robert Bockholt, an Army Special Operations Command spokesman. The name of the organizations are being changed to reflect the historical standard, Bockholt said.

That’s good news to retired Army Col. James Treadwell, 63, of Riverview, former commander of the 4th PSYOP Group and one of the Army’s leading practitioners of PSYOP, which uses leaflet drops, broadcasts and online communication, among other efforts, to present selected but truthful information to foreign audiences to bring about change.

"PSYOP is a more accurate description of the activity," he told me. "I fought the name change my last 10 years or so on active duty, primarily because I felt we would do more harm by changing the name than staying with one that some people felt threatening. Especially people in the Department of State. Military Information Support Operations is purposefully benign."

•••

The Pentagon last week announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Sgt. First Class Stephen B. Cribben, 33, of Simi Valley, Calif., died Nov. 4 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations. He was assigned to 2d Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, Colorado. The incident is under investigation.

There have been 2,347 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; 45 U.S. troop deaths and one civilian Department of Defense employee death in support of the followup, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan; 39 troop deaths and two civilian deaths in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State; one troop death in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, the fight against Islamic State in Libya; one death classified as other contingency operations in the global war on terrorism and four deaths in ongoing operations in Africa where, if they have a name, officials will not divulge it.

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Comments
Howard Altman: Air Force turns to original Phillie Phanatic to develop mascot

Howard Altman: Air Force turns to original Phillie Phanatic to develop mascot

Air Mobility Command, the Air Force headquarters overseeing MacDill Air Force Base, wants to develop its own mascot to help interest children in a career with the flying branch. And they are turning to the original Phillie Phanatic, David Raymond, fo...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/12/18
Trump says U.S. to decide on response to ‘atrocious’ Syria chemical attack in 24 to 48 hours

Trump says U.S. to decide on response to ‘atrocious’ Syria chemical attack in 24 to 48 hours

Washington PostWASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that his administration would be making "major decisions" about its response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria within the next 24 to 48 hours, decrying the action as "atrocious" and...
Published: 04/09/18

North Korea tells US that Kim Jong Un ready to discuss nukes

Associated PressWASHINGTON — North Korea’s government has communicated with the United States to say that leader Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss his nuclear weapons program with President Donald Trump, officials said Sunday, increasing the likelihood...
Published: 04/08/18
Air Force pilot killed in Iraq helicopter crash honored at Tampa funeral

Air Force pilot killed in Iraq helicopter crash honored at Tampa funeral

TAMPA — Air Force Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe was the kind of guy who lived to help others, which is why he was in the co-pilot seat aboard an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter when it took off March 15 from a base in western Iraq.A graduate of Tampa Bay Technic...
Published: 04/05/18
Updated: 04/06/18

4 Marines killed in helicopter crash in California

LOS ANGELES — Four Marines were killed when their helicopter crashed while they were practicing desert landings in Southern California, the Miramar air station in San Diego said Wednesday. The Marines took off from a ground-combat center in the city ...
Updated one month ago
Howard Altman: Syrian pullout creates concerns

Howard Altman: Syrian pullout creates concerns

Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Tuesday, Army Gen. Joseph Votel did not sound like a guy who was planning on pulling American forces out of Syria."We are in Syria to fight ISIS," Votel said about the Sunni jihadi group. "That is our missio...
Updated one month ago
Haley VA director personally presents clinic plans to Sun City Center

Haley VA director personally presents clinic plans to Sun City Center

SUN CITY CENTER — Blanche Sullivan was undeniably impressed.Joe Battle, director of the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Clinics, took time out of his busy schedule to drive to Sun City Center and personally facilitate the March 30 town hall mee...
Published: 04/02/18
Updated: 04/05/18
International commandos to show off capabilities in Tampa again in May

International commandos to show off capabilities in Tampa again in May

Be afraid Mayor Buckhorn.Be very afraid.The bad guys might be after you again.You know the ones. They show up every other year in Tampa and capture you, only to see you rescued by a cadre of international commandos swooping in on helicopters, inflata...
Updated one month ago
For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

For military veterans suffering from PTSD, are service dogs good therapy?

JACKSONVILLE BEACH — Adam Fuller credits a simple, one-word command — and a black Lab mix named J.D. — for helping to save his life. "Cover," he tells J.D., who is sitting to his left in a grassy field next to a park playground. The dog calmly walks ...
Updated one month ago
Coast Guard testing elastic buoy lines to prevent chains from scouring reefs

Coast Guard testing elastic buoy lines to prevent chains from scouring reefs

TAMPA BAY — The Coast Guard cutter Joshua Appleby rocks gently from side to side, a sure sign that the 175-foot-long, Keeper-class buoy tender is under way."The weather conditions are a little windy," says Danielle Elam, project manager for the Coast...
Updated one month ago