PENTAGON HALTS BERET HANDOUT
From: "DocMelson.com" <email@example.com>
HALTS BERET HANDOUT
Pentagon said yesterday that it had started a review of
Army's contested decision to issue the Rangers'
black beret to all soldiers.
spokesman said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
will look into a department decision last fall to
a "buy America" law to acquire the wool berets from
factories in communist China and other Third World
review, requested last month by President Bush, was
a day after Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia
and chairman of the Senate Armed Services
urged Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to
the beret program until a new Army secretary
Wolfowitz's announcement culminates weeks of intense
from former soldiers and members of Congress. They
that making the berets available to every soldier in
Army voids the uniqueness of the black beret for 3,000
one of the Army's most elite combat groups.
think it's moving pretty quick and it's exciting," said
David Nielsen, who last week completed a 750-mile
march from Fort Benning, Ga., to Washington. "I want
find the best way out for everyone. I don't want to see
embarrassed. Maybe there's not an 'A' or a 'B,' but
a 'C' position that makes everybody look good. Maybe
berets for soldiers."
source close to the issue said Mr. Rumsfeld feels
to act in the face of widespread disagreement with
Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, who set out the
in October as a symbol of "a transformed Army for the
century," is said to be discussing how he should
if Mr. Rumsfeld suspends the program permanently.
and Army sources say the four-star general is
he made the right decision and stubbornly defends
a retired soldier who worked in the Bush campaign:
Shinseki take a hint?"
notes the growing number of letters from Republican and
congressmen opposing the general's decision, and
fact that the commander in chief ordered the Pentagon
issue became further inflamed last week when The
Times reported that the Defense Logistics Agency
the "Berry Amendment" and ordered hundreds of
of black berets from Third World countries,
amendment requires the Pentagon to buy clothing made of
components in American plants. The agency said
the law was the only way it could meet Gen.
deadline of having all 474,000 active duty
in a beret by June 14, the Army's birthday.
am also troubled by reports of the manner in which the
are being procured," Mr. Warner said in his letter to
Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican,
to Mr. Rumsfeld last week as well, saying "Taking the
beret away from Rangers complicates the laudable goal
creating esprit d'corps in the Army."
the House yesterday, Rep. Lois Capps, California
circulated a letter to be signed by her colleagues
calls on Mr. Bush to consider terminating the foreign
seemingly arbitrary deadline for the new berets will
U.S. firms to lose millions of dollars and send this
business to foreign companies," Mrs. Capps said.
uniforms are a powerful symbol for U.S. soldiers,
who they are and what they stand for. That is
reason why they are manufactured in our own country,
in times of crisis. The Army's decision to purchase
black berets from companies who manufacture them
may undermine the very morale and unity the Army is
to instill in its forces with its decision to
its soldiers in matching headgear."
Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, told
Mr. Wolfowitz will look at Gen. Shinseki's policy
as well as the overseas contracts.
are several different facets to this overall topic,
the deputy secretary has been asked to take a look at
of them and come back holistically to the secretary
his recommendations on the way ahead," Adm. Quigley
"His charter is very broad. . . . He'll move it along
was confusion at the Pentagon after White House
Ari Fleischer announced two weeks ago that the
himself wanted a review, and nothing happened. Mr.
then told reporters that he had not asked the Army
any information. His remarks were taken as a lack of
for the president's instructions.
Fleischer yesterday repeated the president's
is something that DoD [Department of Defense] is
at now," he said. "Secretary Rumsfeld will be
said he has not asked the Army to do so. I think you
allow the secretary to speak for himself. The
is aware, certainly. He had a conversation with
president. So because he says he hasn't asked the Army
is not an indication of what Secretary Rumsfeld is or is
Charlie Norwood, Georgia Republican, complained
about the beret policy last month to Mr. Bush and
Rumsfeld during an Air Force One trip to an Army base in
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