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A traditional Basque-style beret (with headband folded in).

A beret( or ; ) (Basque: txapel; Spanish: boina) is a soft round cap, usually of wool felt, with a flat crown, which is worn by both men and women and usually associated with Francemarker although it is also the traditional headgear of Northern Spainmarker. The beret was also common in other surrounding countries, especially the Low Countries, with precursors extending as far back as the Middle Ages, but its exact origins remain unknown.

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, the German Kommando Spezialkräfte KSK and the Danish Jægerkorpset, the green of the Royal Marines Commandosmarker, French Commandos (Bérets verts), and United States Army's Special Forces (Green Berets), the scarlet of the elite Soviet Internal Troops (Spetsnaz), the beige or tan of Commonwealth special forces units (SASmarker) and United States 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 Bearnese and northern Basque peasants and were knitted from wool. Today berets are normally made from woven wool, wool felt, or acrylic fiber.

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

US Army Private wearing Black beret with Distinctive Unit Insignia (Unit Crest) on the US Army Beret Flash
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.


Most berets are used by Senior Enlisted Members and Officers.


In the Angola Armed Forces, the following berets are in use:


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.


Austrian green beret.

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 greenJagdkommandos
  • 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
  • Maroon — Commandos
  • 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 Belgianmarker 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.


  • Black — Armoured corps.
  • Maroon — Paratroopers.
  • Green — Infantry and other Army units.
  • Dark Blue — Gendarmerie.


Berets in Bolivian Army:
  • Black — Paratroopers
  • Maroon — Armoured Corps
  • Green — Special Operations Forces, Commandos
  • Camouflage — Special Forces "Bolivian Condors"
  • Blue — Engineer units


  • Tan — Air Assault Units
  • Dark Blue — Students of Military Formation Schools (Cadets, Officer Candidates, Sargeant Candidates)
  • Black — Armoured troops, Mechanized Infantry, Military Police (Gendarmerie)
  • Camouflage — Jungle Troops
  • Dark brown — Special Operations Group
  • Grey — Mountain Infantry
  • Maroon — Paratroopers
  • Royal blue — Army aviation
  • Scarlet red — Students of Colégio Militar (middle and high school).
  • Green — All other Army units


Berets have been worn by Bulgarianmarker 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.


Main article Uniforms_of_the_Canadian_Forces#Berets

The colour of the beret is determined by the wearer's environment, branch, or mission. The beret colours listed below are the current standard:

Colour Wearer
       Air Force blue Air Force
black Armoured
black Navy
CF green all other Army units
UN blue personnel serving with the United Nations on peacekeeping missions
scarlet Military Police
maroon Airborne paratroopers
blaze orange Search-and-rescue technicians
terracotta personnel serving with the Multinational Force and Observers
tan Special Forces


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 5,2000, the People's Liberation Army has adopted woolen berets for all its personnel, along with the traditional peaked caps.Type 99 beret
  • Olive green — Ground Force and Second artillery force
  • Dark blue — Navy(including Marine corps)
  • Blue-grey — Air Force (including Airborne troops)
Berets were not officially adopted by the CAPF, but some of the forces issued their own typesNOT OFFICIAL:
  • Red—CAPF Provincial Women Special Police Corps
  • Dark blue—Public Security Police SWAT

During the 80s, camo berets were issued to some of the recon forces of PLA. It has no badge on it.

Type 07 uniform is being issued to both PLA and CAPF on August 1, 2007.Colours of 07 berets are changed to the same colours with the service uniform. And several changes in designs were made from type 99 beret. The berets were not being issued until summer of 2009 to most of the troops.

Other than colours of the berets, the most significant difference between type 99 and type 07 is the type 99 beret badge is cloth, while type 07 is plastic.


Berets are worn by all personnel of the Colombian Army (Ejército) 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 (Commandos)
  • 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.

During Croatian War of Independence, Croatian Army consisted of seven professional brigades—guard brigades, each having its beret colour. During the army reforms nuber of guard brigades was cut to two, but the battalions kept the names and insignia (colour of beret also) of ex brigades.

Joint staff:

Guard brigades:
  • Armored Mechanized Guard Brigade
    • Black — 1st Mechanized Battalion "Sokolovi"
    • Brown — 2nd Mechanized Battalion "Pume"
    • Black — Tank Battalion "Kune"

  • Motorized Guard Brigade
    • Black — 1st Mechanized Battalion "Tigrovi"
    • Green — 2nd Mechanized Battalion "Gromovi"
    • Black — 1st Motorized Battalion "Vukovi"
    • Red — 2nd Motorized Battalion "Pauci"

Also dark blue beret is used in Croatian Navy.

Czech Republic

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
  • Maroon4th Rapid Deployment Brigade , 601st Special Forces Group
  • Dark green — Reconnaissance troops
  • Light green — Other ground forces (mechanised infantry, armour, artillery, NBC protection, Engineering Brigades, etc.)
  • Dark blue — Air Force
  • Grey — Logistics, Medical troops
  • Black — Military Police


Danish Army beret.
Green marks the soldier as belonging to a combat support regiment.
The badge belongs to The Signal Regiment, and its white background marks the second battalion of the regiment.
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; Naval Home Guard
  • Light Blue Gray — Royal Danish Air Force; Air Force Home Guard
  • Light blue(also call "mouse grey") — Army Aviation (now disbanded)
  • Dark brown — Danish Women's Voluntarily Corp (Dansk Lottekorps) Disbanded
  • Camouflage — Naval Infantry, Armoured forces of Bornholm (Bornholms Værn´s Marineinfantery) Disbanded
  • UN-blue - UN-units


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


  • Maroon — Paratroopers
  • Forest green — Armour
  • Dark blue — Infantry
  • Dark blue with red band — Presidential Guard
  • Black — Artillery
  • Red — Military Police


All personnel of the EDF or Eritrean Defense Forces wear Berets.

  • Red — Air Force Units
  • Green — Army Units
  • Blue — Naval Units
  • Purple — Border Guard


All personnel in the Estonian Military, wear Berets, or a formal head dress.

  • Green — Ground Forces
  • Black — Armoured Corps, Naval Units
  • Maroon — Special Trained Forces
  • Light Blue — Air Force


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


French troops in Rwanda.
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 Vichy Milice of the War period wore a blue beret.

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 (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.


Berets in Gabonese Army:

  • Maroon — Paratroopers
  • Light grey — Armoured troops
  • Green — Republican also symbolise boggers
  • Green — Commandos Marine
  • Dark red — Army Medical Corps
  • Dark blue — other Army units


The German Heer uses berets with cap badges for every branch of service. The Luftwaffe and the Marine issue navy blue berets only to their ground or land combat units (called Luftwaffensicherungstruppe and Marineschutzkräfte). 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
  • Maroon — special units, including airborne troops, army aviation, Airmobile Operations Divisionmarker (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), 'Instandssetzung' Vehicle Maintenance
  • Moss green — infantry units, including Jägertruppe, Panzergrenadiere (armoured infantry), and ceremonial guards (Wachbataillon des Heeres) and the now disbanded Panzerjäger (anti-tank);
  • 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)
  • Light Blue — Troops in UN units
military bands wear the beret colour of their respective division (e.g. black in the 1. Panzerdivision)

Note: The Panzerjäger started off with black berets but were moved into the Panzergrenadier branch. The last Panzerjägers wore green berets.


The beret colours worn by the Ghana Army are as follows:
  • Black — Armoured Corps
  • Green — Paratroopers.
  • Red — Military police.
  • Dark Blue — All other Arms and Corps


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 and Military Intelligence
  • Dark (rifle) green — rifle regiments and some light infantry regiments
  • Maroon — The Parachute Regiment and Special Forces
  • Black — Armoured Corps and the National Security Guards
  • Grey — Army Aviation Corps and the Indian Air Force
  • Scarlet — Corps of Military Police
  • Navy blue — The Regt of Artillery, Arms and services, Indian Navy
  • Sand — Marine Commandoes
  • Light Blue — All personnel serving with the United Nations forces irrespective of unit, arm or service


The beret is the headgear of ground forces and military police in the Indonesian Armed Forces. In Military Services (Army, Navy and Air Force), the berets are dragged to the right (the insignia are worn on the left side), while in National Police Service and Military Police units, the berets are dragged to the left (the insignia are worn on the right side).

Military Services:
  • Army
    • Red - Special Forces.
    • Dark Green - Infantry Corps (including Airborne and Raider units).
    • Black - Cavalry Corps.
    • Light Brown - Artillery Corps (Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery).
    • Steel Gray - Combat Engineers Corps.
    • Maroon - Army Aviation Corps.
    • Khaki - Signal Corps.
    • Dark Blue - Supply and Transportation Corps.
    • Light Blue - Military Police
    • Light Green - 1st Infantry Brigade/Jaya Sakti, under Jayakarta Military Territorial Command (the Capital garrison).
  • Navy
    • Navy Blue - Standard berets for the Navy, worn by all personnel in duty such as ships' company.
    • Purple (Magenta) - Marine Corps.
    • Burning Red - Naval Combat Divers.
    • Black - Submarine officers and crew.
    • Maroon - Special Forces
  • Air Force
    • Blue - Standard berets for the Air Force, with Air Force insignia.
    • Orange - Air Force Special Operation Corps (Korps Pasukan Khas).
    • Dark Blue - Air Force Military Police.
  • Inter-services
    • Light Blue - All personnels attached in United Nations' Peace Keeping Force, and the Presidential Security Force.
    • Dark Brown - Military Cadets.

National Police Corps
    • Red - Detective Corps (Reserse).
    • Dark Blue - Mobile Brigade Corps (Brigade Mobil).
    • Dark Brown - Police Samapta Bhayangkara Corps.


The beret colours worn by Óglaigh na hÉireann (The Irish Defence Forces) 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
  • 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.


Soldiers of the Nahal Brigade wearing light green berets

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:


Italian Army 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:


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.


The beret colours worn by the Jordanian Army are as follows:
  • Chocolate brown - Infantry
  • Maroon — Special Forces
  • Black — Armoured Corps
  • Green — Royal Guards
  • Dark Blue - Artillery
  • Mid-blue - Engineers
  • Red — Military police


The beret colours worn by the Kenya Army are as follows:
  • Black — Armoured Corps
  • Green — Paratroopers.
  • Red — Military police.
  • Dark Blue - All other Arms and Corps


The beret colours worn by the Latvian Army are as follows:
  • Olive-green — Parliament and President's Security Service Unit
  • Red — Military police
  • Black - All other Arms and Corps


Most units, in the Lebanese Armed Forces wear berets.
  • Pigment Green — All other Army Units
  • Purple — Special Forces and Airborne Troops
  • Dodger Blue — Armored Units


  • Maroon — National Defence Volunteer Forces
  • Scarlet — Military Police
  • Green — Military Land Force
  • Black — Iron Wolf Mechanized Brigade


Berets are worn by some units of the Malaysian Armed Forces. The colours presently used are:


The beret colours worn by the Malian Armed Forces are as follows:
  • Maroon — Paratroopers.
  • Brown — Republican Guard.
  • Green — Infantry and other army units.
  • Dark blue — Air Force


In the Mexican Army, the beret is worn by:

In the Mexican Navy:
  • Black — Paratroopers



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

New Zealand

All Battalions in the New Zealand Army wear rifle green berets, except for the Special Air Service, who wear a sand colour. Personnel of the Royal New Zealand Navy wear black. Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel do not wear berets.


Norwegian soldier wearing an olive green beret

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 and His Majesty The King's Guardmarker 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:


  • Dark Blue - Worn by the General Staff officers (rank of Colonel and above) irrespective of their Regimental association.



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, airborne - 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. Around the year 2000 the design of the Polish Army Beret changed, the beret sewn together from three pieces of material with four air holes, two at each side was changed to a smaller beret molded from one piece of material with no air holes.The following colours are in use:

Berets in other units

The black beret is also the distinctive headgear of World War II veterans, particularly Armia Krajowa veterans.

The dress code of the Polish armed forces states than when not worn on the head or kept in a locker the beret should be placed under the left shoulder loop.


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 (Commando)
  • Sand — Rhodesian SAS (Special Air Services)
  • Brown — 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
  • Cherry Red — Rhodesian Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Bright Blue — Psychological Operations
  • Maroon — Medical Corps


  • Infantry: red
  • Artillery: black
  • Mountain Troops (or Mountain Hunters, Vânători de Munte): green
  • Tanks: black
  • Military Automobile Troops (automobilişti militari): black
  • Anti-air Artillery and Missiles: black
  • Communication and Informatics structures: black, or the color of the branch they work in
  • Engineers Troops (geniu): black
  • Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) Defense: black
  • Paratroopers: light blue
  • Air Force: light blue
  • Radar Troops (radiolocaţie): light blue
  • Naval Forces: black
  • Military Police: gray
  • Military Logistics, or administration (intendenţă): violet
  • Military Medicine: dark red (bordeaux red)
  • Military Music: red
  • Military Justice: dark blue


Russian paratroopers wearing the blue beret.
Russian military structures (both Armed Forces and Internal Troops) use the following types of berets:


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:

The berets are all adorned with the Singapore Armed Forces coat of arms, with the exception of the Air Force beret, Military Police 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. Officers of the rank of colonel and above have a different cap-badge.

  • National Cadet Corps (Land)- Green
  • National Cadet Corps (Air)- Black
  • National Cadet Corps (Sea)- Black
All berets have the National Cadet Corpsmarker crest on the front.


  • Black - tank forces,army air defense
  • Dark green - units of high readiness,immediately reaction battalion
  • Maroon - paratrooper units,5.regiment of special assignment(airborne)
  • Dark blue - military police
  • Light blue - united nation peace keeping forces,training unit for peace keeping mission


  • Black — armour
  • Rifle Green - Special forces
  • Green — Military Police
  • Black - Armour units
  • Maroon - motorised infantry/Paratroopers
  • Dark blue — Navy units
  • Light blue — Air force
  • Grey - Mountain units
  • Sand - NBC units
  • Red - Guard unit

South Africa

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.

South Korea

Berets are mostly limited to the elite units of the South Korean Military, including:

Other than these units, several secret commando units (mostly disbanded in the mid-1990s, among them the "Unit 684" which became infamous for its mutiny) formed to infiltrate North Koreamarker 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


  • Maroon - 1st King's Immemorial Infantry Regiment of AHQ
  • Black - Airborne Brigade (BRIPAC), Mechanized Division "Brunete", Air Force Police
  • Green - special operations units (MOE, UOE, EZAPAC)
  • Mustard - Military Emergencies Unit (UME)
  • Dark Green - Mountain Brigade
  • Blue - royal Guard, Army Helicopters (FAMET)
  • Grey - BRILAT
  • Red - General Military Academy
  • White - Mountain brigade and NCO's Academy
  • Kakhi - Infantry

Sri Lanka


The beret is used in the various armed forces of Swedenmarker. The colours used are:
  • Black — armoured/mechanised units, Life Guard regiment infantry.
  • Maroon — Parachute Ranger School (FJS)
  • Scarlet — Army - and Navy musicians
  • Rifle 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
  • 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)
  • Khaki — home guard


The beret is worn by all police and military personal.
  • Red - Elite Forces


The beret is worn by all Swissmarker 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; NBC specialists
  • Claret — mechanics; logistics troops; maintenance troops; territorial troops
  • Grey — "Military Security": military police, fortification maintenance personnel, 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 Thailandmarker. The colours used are: The black beret is also worn by ordinary police in certain situations.


The beret colours worn by the Togolese Army are as follows:
  • Black — Armoured Corps.
  • Maroon — Para-Commando Regiment.
  • Green — Presidential Guard Commando Regiment.
  • Dark Blue - All other Arms and Corps


  • Black — Armored vehicle personnel
  • Green — Gendarmerie
  • Light blue — Commandos
  • Maroon — Special forces

United Kingdom

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.

Beret Colours

The colours are as follows:

Other Adornments

Some Regiments and Corps wear a coloured backing behind the capbadge, 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 Special OP Battery Royal Artillery, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Royal Logistic Corp (Private - Ssgt), Army Air Corps, Parachute Regiment, SAS and Intelligence Corps wear berets in Nos 1, 2, 3 and 6, Dress. Other English and Welsh 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.

Old Units

Former regiments and corps, now amalgamated, that did not wear navy blue berets included:

United States

US Army

Army Special Forces with Green Berets
Army Ranger with tan beret
Army Airborne Soldier with Maroon beret
Berets were originally worn by elite forces in the United States Army. In 2001, the United States Army adopted the black beret as standard headgear army-wide, a controversial decision because it was previously reserved for the Rangers. United States Army berets now use the following distinctive colors:

Special Forces, Ranger, and Airborne unit berets sport distinctive organizational flashes. All other units use a standard pale blue flash bordered with 13 white stars. Officers wear their rank insignia within the flash, while enlisted ranks wear their distinctive unit insignia.

US Air Force

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:

Air Force Academy and auxiliaries:
  • Blue - 1st Class Cadets, United States Air Force Academy, and 2nd Class Cadets acting as cadre during basic cadet training; Civil Air Patrol members who have completed the CAP/USAF National Blue Beret.
  • Black - United States Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Guard and members of the Wings of Blue

The first unit of the USAF to be authorised berets was the SAC Elite Guard in 1957. They wore the dark blue beret similar to the current Air Force Security Forces.

US Navy

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 Headquarters (Minister Of Defence troops)
  • Red — Presidential Guard
  • Maroon — National Guard
  • Navy Blue — Army Headquarters
  • Black — Army general use
  • Red — Airborne Brigade (Army)
  • Green — jungle troops, counter-insurgency troops (caribes), special forces units (Army)


  • Green — Infantry
  • Black — Armoured Regiment
  • Maroon — Parachute Regiment
  • Yellow — Presidential Guard
  • Cherry Red — Military Police
  • Blue-gray — Zimbabwe Air Force
  • Dark Blue — All other units

Berets in other paramilitary organizations

Hong Kong

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". These berets are also being worn by the officers of the Emergency Unit and the Airport Security Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force.


The Police Cadets, Riot unit and the members of the Special Operations Unit of the National Commissioner of Icelandic Police (Víkingasveitin) 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-terror 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 Britishmarker 22nd Special Air Servicemarker. 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 personnel wear the orange beret and RELA personnel wear the yellow beret.


The Philippine National Police Special Action Force.


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 Crossmarker 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 Forcemarker until 1969, when the peaked cap was introduced. The beret was, however, retained for specialist forces, such as officers of the Special Operations Commandmarker (SOC) and the Police Coast Guardmarker, as well as the Gurkha Contingentmarker. A dark blue beret is worn, although the Police Tactical Unitmarker 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 CISCOmarker and Aetos Security Managementmarker 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 Corpsmarker and the National Cadet Corpsmarker also wear berets of different colours.

South Africa

The Special Task Force of the South African Police Service wear camouflage berets.

South Korea

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 Incheonmarker Metropolitan Police SWAT team (Unit 313) wears green berets.


The beret, boina in Spanish or txapela in Basque, where it was especially popular, has been in common usage in Spain for centuries. Some believe it was introduced in the sixteenth century from the Low Countries, which at the time shared the same monarchy.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

Sri Lanka

The Special Task Force of the Sri Lanka Police wear green berets.

United Kingdom

CO19, the armed response unit of the Londonmarker Metropolitan Police, used to wear dark blue berets, and were nicknamed the 'Blue Berets'. Today, they generally wear helmets or baseball caps.

The beret as a revolutionary symbol

One of the most famous photographs of Che Guevara taken by Alberto Korda was of him wearing a black beret with a red star. Fidel Castro also wore a beret during his insurgency against the Bautista government of Cuba. In the 1960s several activist groups adopted the beret.

In 1960's pop culture the 1964 television series The Man from UNCLE featured THRUSH troops wearing berets. In the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde actress Faye Dunaway wore a beret to play the role of outlaw Bonnie Parker.

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 has made a comeback with the older members in Rover Scouts having adopted the red beret as part of their uniform. 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'. Also the St John Ambulance Cadets of the UK can also wear black berets.
  • 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 Universitymarker 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.
  • Members of the Civil Air Patrol who attend National Blue Beret (NBB) in Oshkosh, Wisconsinmarker 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 Kongmarker 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 [56444]
  • 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.
  • Pathfinders wear a black beret with the badge in the middle; their leaders also use it, but with a different insignia

Other associations

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 Francemarker 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, some in the Spanish Basque Country and Navarramarker 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!!. 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:

  • Emily Havelka

See also


  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 Edition
  2. Australian Army Standing Orders for Dress
  3. PLA Caps and decorations
  4. Edict about military uniforms (in Czech)
  5. Gordon, David. Uniforms of the World War II Tommy (Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, MT, 2005). ISBN 1-57510-122-X
  6. BBC website on British headdress
  8. The Army Black Beret
  10. txapelgorri in the Hiztegia 3000 Basque-Spanish dictionary.
  12. p.119 Ogbar, Jeffrey Ogbanna Green Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity 2004 JHU Press
  15. Army Cadet Dress Regulations CATO 46-01
  16. Article in Legion Magazine, Jan-Feb 2006
  17. Guardian Angels website
  18. [1]

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