The New York Daily News is reporting that the special ops command brass over in Afghanistan are — once again — ordering their snake eaters to ditch the whiskers.
Long beards, khaki ball caps and Oakley wraparound sunglasses have long been the iconic image of U.S. secret warriors here.
But commanders now want “professional-looking” soldiers in the field – at least those who deal mostly with Afghan troops, not civilians. They note that the ball caps are often adorned with macabre skulls, sending the wrong message to a populace weary of war and death.
As many Kit Up! readers will remember, this is a seemingly perennial problem in the rugged battleground that attracts a similarly rugged persona. The bearded bubbas were rolling through the hills back in ’09-’10 sporting ZZ Top-like shags and biker bar caps with aplomb. Then the regular Army and Air Force moved in and Bagram became a salute base the the beards were banned.
Then the optics shifted to Iraq and the commandos went back to their off-the-grid ways.
But now with all the world watching The ‘Stan again, the brass are back at their game, blousing, shaving, tabbing and capping in full military regulation.
In Afghanistan’s rural areas were connecting with the population is so important, beards are essential for those troops who’s mission it is to live off the land and survive through repoire rapport. I can see how some in the rear are feeling the sting from operators who take the look at little too far, but at the end of the day, it’s about trust and mission success, right?