Army approves uniform change for soldiers at Fort Bliss

Before a mission, Spc. Jeff Newberry tucks away his boonie cap. As an infantry Soldier for Company A, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Newberry in Iraq, in 2004. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Fred Minnick)

Soldiers at the Texas-based Fort Bliss are now authorized to wear one of the most controversial issued pieces of headgear in the United States Army— and we aren’t talking about General Shinseki’s black beret.

The boonie cap, which has long had a contentious relationship with many a sergeant major over the decades, is now authorized for regular wear at Fort Bliss.

The decision was reportedly made due to the location of Fort Bliss, as the 360° brim of the cap protects the wearer from the sun better than the patrol cap.

Army Maj. Gen. James P. Isenhower III, commanding general of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, authorized boonies back in October, Lt. Col. Kimbia Rey, a spokeswoman for the division, reported to military news outlets.

“Maj. Gen. Isenhower authorized Soldiers to wear sun hats because the sun hat mitigates the harmful effects of overexposure to the sun,” Rey said. “El Paso is often referred to as the Sun City, because it enjoys an average of 302 days of sunshine each year.”

According to Task & Purpose, the change comes with a few caveats— when it comes to formations, either everyone wears the boonie or no one does.

Additionally, the time-honored practices of trimming, shaping and/or rolling the boonie brim to have a sleeper appearance are prohibited.

The boonie cap is a throwback to the Vietnam War, and has made an appearance in every conflict since then.

Boonie caps have often been disliked by higher-ups, due to their often exaggerated brims and unprofessional appearance.

In the British Army, boonie caps have smaller brims, and often take on a different shape and look from their American counterparts.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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