"A symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom." -President Kennedy on the Green Berets, April 11, 1962
President John F. Kennedy was visionary in his efforts to increase the capability of the United States Department of Defense in the conduct of Counter Insurgency and Unconventional Warfare. On October 12, 1961 the President visited Fort Bragg and the US Army Special Warfare Center, home of Army Special Forces. After an impressive capabilities demonstration by General Yarborough and his “Green Berets,” the Commander in Chief sent a message to the General which read in part:
The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one and I know that you and the members of your Command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.
Soon after, the president authorized the “Green Beret” as the official headgear for all US Army Special Forces and these Unconventional Warriors were thereafter and ever known as “The Green Berets."
Presently, there are 5,500 active duty green berets, with 1,100 more in the National Guard. They are tasked with six primary missions, including unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism.