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Sartorial Sideshow

The Army wants to boost morale and change its image by having all soldiers wear berets. But that's got the elite Army Rangers, known by their black berets and special patch, up in arms.

Many Rangers say a beret is earned, not issued. And the Army's under fire for having caps made in China, Sri Lanka, India, and Romania (why not France?). But it defends this fashion statement as a way to create a "lighter, more deployable force."

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Either way, both sides miss the point. Tradition stems from quality of service, not idolatry of uniform.

Faced with adversity, the distinguished Rangers are quite capable of "leading the way" (their motto) to higher service.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor