The maroon beret in a military configuration has been an international symbol of airborne forces since the Second World War. It was first officially introduced by the British Army in 1942, at the direction of Major-General Frederick "Boy" Browning, commander of the British 1st Airborne Division. It was first worn by the Parachute Regiment in action in North Africa during November 1942. Although coloured maroon, the beret of the British Parachute Regiment is often called the "red beret."
The first British army unit to adopt the beret was the Armoured Corps in 1924 (for more information see black beret). During World War II some British Army units followed the lead of the Armoured Corps and adopted the beret as a practical headgear, for soldiers who needed a hat that could be worn in confined areas, slept in and could be stowed in a small space when they wore steel helmets.
A popular story is that the maroon colour was chosen by Major-General Frederick Browning, after his wife, Daphne du Maurier, suggested that he use the colour which made up part of his horse racing colours. However, in a letter, now in the British Airborne Assault Archive, she wrote that it was untrue. Whatever its origin, the maroon beret was adopted by the British paratroopers in July 1942. Initially it was adorned with an Army Air Corps badge. This was replaced with the Parachute Regiment badge in 1943.
It was during the Western Desert Campaign (1940-1943) that the Germans in the Africa Korps began to refer to members of the British Parachute Brigade as Rote Teufel (Red Devils) after their maroon berets and their fighting skills.
The maroon beret is worn by members of the Afghan National Army Commando Brigade.
The maroon beret is worn by all members of the 25th (Airborne) Infantry Battalion (Jägerbataillon 25) of the Austrian Armed Forces (Bundesheer), which is a mixed airborne/air assault unit.
The Special Forces group of the Austrian Armed Forces (Jagdkommando) also originally wore the maroon beret because of their airborne capability, but adopted an olive-green beret in 2003. In addition, the Austrian coat of arms is only used as cap badge until the successful completion of the basic selection course (Jagdkommandogrundkurs), after which Jagdkommando members wear a cloth version of the Kommandoabzeichen (="commando badge").
Maroon (also referred to as Dull Cherry) berets were worn by parachute qualified members of the 3 RAR Parachute Battalion Group from 1985 - 2012, when the parachute role was performed by 3 RAR. In addition to the battalion, the Group included A Field Battery, Parachute Surgical Team, and Engineer and Signals elements. The beret was worn with the Royal Australian Regiment Badge by Infantrymen at the battalion, and individual Corps badges for other Corps members as appropriate. 2nd Commando Regiment now effectively perform the parachuting function formerly held by 3 RAR; they wear a Green Beret with a Commando Badge.
Qualified parachutists posted to Parachute Training School (PTS) wore the beret (or their Special Air Service or Commando Regt beret as appropriate) with individual Corps / Regimental Badges until a few years ago.
The beret was previously also worn by the Airborne Platoon Royal Australian Regiment 1951-1974, then the Australian Special Air Service Company (with the Royal Australian Infantry Corps Badge). When the Special Air Service Regiment was formed this was replaced by the tan beret (sometimes referred to as the sandy beret) with SASR Badge.
The Republic of Azerbaijan special forces wear a maroon beret.
All members of the Bangladesh Army special forces 1st Para Commmando Brigade Special Forces' battalions wear Maroon Berets with para commando cap badge. Besides all members of the Army Medical Corps, Army Dental Corps and Armed Forces Nursing Services of Bangladesh Army wear Maroon Berets with respective cap badges. Besides, cadets of Mirzapur Cadet College, a military boarding school, are also entitled to wear maroon berets.
The Paracommando Brigade (Belgium) wear the maroon beret with various types of cap badges.
In the Brazilian Army, the use of maroon berets and brown boots is restricted to the members of the Parachute Infantry Brigade (Brigada de Infantaria Paraquedista) one of the elite brigades of the Brazilian Armed Forces.
Members of the Parachute Regiment and other arms serving in 16th Air Assault Brigade wear the maroon beret. A maroon beret does not mean the wearer is qualified as a military parachutist. Personnel qualified as military parachutists wear the Parachutist Badge. The beret is often called the "red beret" and the Parachute Regiment is known as the "red berets", "red devils", or (within the Army) the "maroon machine".
The Special Forces Regiment (Malay: Regimen Pasukan Khas, "RPK") wear a maroon beret.
Members of the Burkina Faso Security Forces wear a maroon beret.
Jump-qualified personnel in parachute units of the Canadian Army wear the maroon, provided they are in a designated parachute position. These are as follows:
Since the creation of the Armored Cavalry in the Army, all personnel who serve in the Armored Cavalry unit wear maroon berets, using the same badges regardless of each member's speciality. Specialists in Armored Cavalry are trained in the Escuela de Caballería Blindada del Ejército (Armored Cavalry School of Army), and currently it is only branch of service whose members all wear berets; the other berets used in the Chilean Army distinguished only specialists (mountain troops, paratroopers, or special forces) and, in the last years, the combined branch of service regiment, called Regimientos Reforzados.
Danish Army Special Forces, Jægerkorpset wears the Maroon Beret with a brass emblem depicting a hunter's bugle on a black felt liner. The beret is issued after completion of 16 weeks of SF training. However, not before 1 year of additional satisfactory service in JGK is the wearer issued the shoulder patch "JÆGER" and may call himself by this name.
Since the 1957, almost all French Army paratroopers wear an amarante (dark red) beret. Exceptions include the Légionnaires and Naval Commandos who retain their green berets; and the Air Parachute Commandos who wear a dark blue beret.
A maroon beret is worn by the German Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK, Special Forces), all members of the Division Schnelle Kräfte (DSK, containing the Fallschirmjager) and the German Army Aviation Corps (Heeresfliegertruppe).
Maroon berets are worn by members of the 1st Army Aviation Brigade.
Maroon berets are worn by Kaibiles, Guatemala's special forces.
The Indian Army's 50th (Independent) Parachute Brigade, including the minor/support units of the formation, the President's BodyGuard, a ceremonial guard unit with their operational role as the pathfinder company of the parachute brigade, and the special forces units wear the maroon beret.
The elite and super-secretive Marcos (Marine Commandos) of the Indian Navy are parachute qualified and even expertise in combat free fall.
Because Indonesian Airborne Paratrooper Battalions (Yonif Linud) are part of the Kostrad infantry division, they do not wear maroon berets as an independent regiment or corps, but instead wear green berets (Kostrad berets), identifying an army infantry group which is in the internal scope of the Kostrad division command.
Maroon berets are the official headgear of Army Aviation Center. This beret is worn by all its personnel. Established on 23 March 2007, the beret replaced all the berets previously used by the personnel.
In the Italian Armed Forces, maroon berets are worn only by paratroopers: the army units Folgore Parachute Brigade, Carabinieri Regiment "Tuscania" and Gruppo di intervento speciale, and the police elite unit Nucleo operativo centrale di sicurezza.
The Royal Malaysia Police has a two units wearing the maroon berets. The unit is:
Both of the units had their maroon berets bestowed by the Special Air Service.
The maroon berets are worn by the Army Rangers Regiment known as Maghaweer and by the Navy Seals known as Maghaweer El Bahr (Naval Commando). The current commander in chief General Joseph Aoun, himself having been in Maghaweer, allowed military personnel who have a Ranger badge to keep wearing their maroon berets even when serving in other non special forces units. The current military council (6 members) includes two Maghaweer General Joseph Aoun and Major General Georges Chreim.
The maroon berets are worn by Mexico's Parachute Rifle Brigade called the Brigada de Fusileros Paracaidistas created in 1969 as a rapid response team.
The maroon beret is worn by Namibian Special Forces specifically the Commandos and Paratroopers.
The Dutch Army's Air Mobile Force/Light infantry, 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade, which translates to 11 Air Mobile Brigade, wear "The Maroon Berets" (aka the Red Beret) as a sign of their status upon completion of their training.
The Norwegian Army special forces has worn the maroon beret since its establishment in 1981.
The Special Service Group (SSG) wears a maroon beret with a silver SSG badge on a sky blue flash. Line infantry regiments which were parachute trained wore their own regiments' berets till airborne role was taken away from infantry and assigned to SSG which became the army's only airborne outfit from 1964 onwards. In addition to SSG, Army Aviation and Air Defence, Army medical corps wear maroon berets
Navy's Special Service Group, SSG(N) wear maroon berets
PAF's elite Special Service Wing (SSW) wears maroon berets
The maroon beret is worn by paratroopers in the Polish Armed Forces, called the Bordowe Berety in Polish, and also members of the air cavalry. The beret is always decorated with an embroidered White Eagle (Polish coat of arms) and rank insignia. It is worn with the ceremonial uniform as well as the field uniform.
The maroon beret is worn by members of elite Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) Spetsnaz units, although it is referred to as krapoviy meaning crimson. In a contrast to the Western style, Russian troops wear the badge on the beret over the right eye.
The Maroon Beret or Red Beret is worn by the elite commandos of the Singapore Armed Forces depicting their status as an elite airborne and special forces unit.
A maroon beret is worn by members of the 5th Special Operations Regiment.
The maroon beret is the standard issue beret of the Somali Army.
In the Soviet Union, paratroopers wore a maroon beret until the late 1960s when General Vasily Filipovich Margelov decided that a maroon beret for paratroopers was a Western idea and introduced a cornflower blue beret. This may have been influenced by the cornflower blue of the Soviet Air Force and the cornflower blue helmets worn by Soviet paratroopers during the Great Patriotic War.
The 1st King's Immemorial Infantry Regiment of AHQ, the oldest military unit in the world, wears the maroon beret.
The Regimiento de Inteligencia 1 (Intelligence Regiment 1) based in Valencia wears the maroon beret, as do all units belonging to the Cuartel General Terrestre de Alta disponibilidad (GTAD). Spanish airborne forces have traditionally worn a black beret.
A maroon beret is worn by Fallskärmsjägarna, a jump qualified Swedish Army special operations unit. This is an airborne commando unit focused on intelligence gathering and squad level combat deep behind enemy lines.
The Royal Thai Army Special Operations Force and paratroopers in the 31st Infantry Regiment (Royal Guard) wear the maroon beret.
On 21 November 2017 (Ukraine's Paratroopers' Day) the color of the Ukrainian paratroopers was changed to maroon, replacing soviet-style blue, as a part of new army uniform. The Air Assault Forces also received its new insignia (the dome of a parachute "as a symbol of airborne units around the world" and the wings of Archangel Michael and "the flaming sword with which he hits the enemies").
Pararescuemen (PJs) are among the most highly trained emergency trauma specialists in the U.S. military and the only ones in the Department of Defense specifically trained and equipped to conduct conventional and unconventional rescue processes, making them the ideal force to handle personnel recovery and combat search and rescue operations. In early 1966, General John P. McConnell, then Air Force Chief of Staff, approved the wearing of the maroon beret.
In 1943, during the Second World War, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Browning, commander of the British I Airborne Corps, granted a battalion of the US Army's 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment honorary membership in the British Parachute Regiment and authorized them to wear British-style maroon berets.US Army advisers to Vietnamese airborne forces wore the Vietnamese French-style red beret during the Vietnam War.
Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) policy from 1973 through 1979 permitted local commanders to encourage morale-enhancing distinctions. Airborne forces chose to wear the maroon international parachute beret as a mark of distinction. However, due to the variety to headgear utilized at unit level, such as the Stetson being used in cavalry units, this permission was rescinded in 1979 when the army introduced a policy of standardized headgear. Exceptions were allowed for the continued wearing of the black beret (changed to tan in 2001) for the 75th Ranger Regiment & Ranger Training Brigade, and the green beret for Special Forces. On 28 November 1980 permission was given for airborne organizations to resume wearing the maroon beret. Most American paratroopers refer to it as a red beret, which history and tradition mandates, out of respect for their World War II British allies.
All personnel of the Venezuelan National Guard wear maroon berets.
Other military berets by colour: