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Army Ends Black Beret Requirement for Most Soldiers

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Complaining is as common as saluting in the U.S. Army, but over the past decade the piece of soldiering that received the most carping was the uniform's black beret.

The beret, made of wool, is itchy, requires two hands to put on properly, and literally stinks in the summer heat, soldiers claim.

The Army finally told the soldiers to be at ease over the beret this week, decreeing that it is no longer a uniform requirement and will be replaced by a patrol cap. Although the beret will still be worn with the formal dress uniform, it is no longer required to be worn with the camouflaged uniform that is used on a daily basis by troops.

The change came about in response to a survey of soldiers' opinions taken by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, said Army spokesman Gary Tallman.

"The beret, from a functional standpoint, provides no protection," said Tallman. "There's no protection from the sunlight or heat. If you're doing maintenance, working in a motor pool or servicing trucks, a patrol cap is much more functional gear to wear. It lasts longer."

It was 10 years ago Tuesday that the Army implemented the black beret as an official piece of the uniform across all units. With this decision, some soldiers expressed the sentiment that the beret should have remained an entity only used by members of Special Forces, symbolizing the elite status of the unit.

Along with the black beret no longer part of the camouflage uniform, it was also announced that instead of using Velcro, soldiers will be permitted to sew on various badges.

No official date of implementation has been released.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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