From The Duffel Blog.
After much legal wrangling between the U.S. and the Iraqi government, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has confirmed the U.S. military will be sending 10,000 green berets to Iraq later this week, Duffel Blog has learned.
Hagel said the berets, described by the Pentagon’s logistics office as “beret, man’s, wool, rifle green, army shade 297,” were even now being loaded aboard an Air Force transport for immediate deployment to Iraq.
At a news conference at the Pentagon, Hagel said he received the directive in a brief phone call from the White House last week, when President Obama told him “to send as many green berets to Iraq as we could.” Hagel added, “We were a little puzzled why he didn’t want us to send something more useful, like special forces or military advisers, but orders are orders.”
“Whatever, they don’t pay me to think,” he said.
The berets will be air-dropped to frontline Iraqi Army units in the hopes that the awe-inspiring headgear provides a vital and much-needed morale boost. Hagel said if the green berets work out, the U.S. will also begin surging thousands of similar red, black, and tan berets to Iraq.
In response to Hagel’s statement, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest initially said that there had been some “linguistic confusion.” He later added that after careful deliberation President Obama has decided he likes this new plan much better, as it keeps American boots off the ground, and has halted the military’s current deployment of 300 barefoot American advisers to Iraq.
The deployment of the berets has not been without controversy. In order to rapidly deploy the berets, the Defense Department tapped into the Army’s yearly clothing allowance and has dangerously depleted its domestic supply of berets, leaving some soldiers potentially hatless.
Some have also questioned why the U.S. continues to supply headgear and other clothing to Iraq after eleven years of failing to influence the Iraqi dress code. “If they’re not wearing green berets now, they’re never going to,” one highly-placed anonymous critic of the policy said. “This is just more evidence that we don’t understand the region.”
Hagel admitted there have been problems with the Iraqis too. The deployment of green berets, instead of more culturally appropriate keffiyeh, has been referred to by some members of the Iraqi parliament as a great insult, “as well as the decision to send them during Ramadan, since apparently these people can’t wear hats then too,” Hagel said.