DUKE FIELD — Six months after presenting a prototype to President Donald Trump, Air Force combat aviation advisors now are authorized to wear special headgear when on duty with the Air Force Special Operations Command, including locally at Duke Field and Hurlburt Field.

Some of the nearly 250 airmen now working as combat aviation advisors donned the new brown berets identifying them as advisors during a Saturday ceremony at Duke Field. Airmen in nearly 20 Air Force jobs, from special operations pilot to intelligence analyst to general medical officer, can apply to the 12- to 18-month combat aviation advisor training program. Advisors can be deployed to both hostile and friendly regions to train allied nations’ aviation units in tactics, techniques and procedures. Combat aviation advisors have been part of the Air Force for two decades, and are in high demand among U.S. allies.

"As the Special Operations Command commander, I can tell you what I expect to see when I see a brown beret," Lt. Gen. Brad Webb said Saturday as he addressed a group of advisors and other guests. "I expect to see a cultural expert — one that has a complete understanding of a host nation's customs, culture and way of life. I expect to see a joint warfare expert — an expert in our way of warfare, and an expert in understanding the host nation's and the partner nations' way of warfare."

Prior to Saturday, combat aviation advisors were not differentiated from other Air Force personnel. The advisors still are not authorized to wear the headgear when they are not deployed or not at their duty station with the Air Force Special Operations Command.

An Air Force-wide policy on the wearing of the new berets is pending, according to Lt. Col. James Wilson, chief of public affairs at the 919th Special Operations Wing at Duke Field.

To apply for combat aviation advisor training, airmen must be an expert in their field, prove language proficiency, have excellent physical fitness scores and have a personality that matches the demands of advising different cultures, according to an Air Force Times story on the new brown berets. 

“We need people who are charismatic and can help further relationships with our partner nations,” Master Sgt. Todd Chandler of the 6th Special Operations Squadron told Air Force Times. “The training is rigorous and challenging. It makes you think outside the box.”