The same beret for everyone? Is this an out-of-season April Fool's Day joke?
Alright, here is one dude's take on this one.
I love being a PJ. Nothing in my life has ever been more fulfilling on a basic human level than this job. The worst parts of my job are better than the best parts of some other peoples' job, hands down. I am proud of the tradition, our legacy as one of the most decorated career fields in any service, and the mission. Nothing will ever take the PJ out of who I am as a person.
That being said- unless we evolve, grow and move forward, Pararescue and AF Special Operations as a whole is not going to stay relevant. Period. We already saw it with Special Reconnaissance. Some of those moves/changes are going to be uncomfortable, I get it.
I get that everyone wants to be distinct and there are a lot (and I mean a fucking lot)
of feelings involved when you start talking about "taking a beret away"; but the bottom line is unless we start looking, acting and using the same language, we are always going to be those "AF dudes". Blending the career fields is going to make everyone better- a rising tide raises all ships.
Yeah the career fields lose some flair. Yes, that piece of history will be retired and we will move on. But you know what we have already gotten out of this move? A new training wing. A Directorate. More freedom not only as an entity but a combined entity that contains more O-6/E-9 billets across the board, and a deliberate plan to actually grow some of our own Stars. Imagine that- a command of operators led by an operator with 2 or 3 stars, and not a pilot. The roadmap to integrated squadrons all under AFSOC's flag is already happening. My position at the squadron is real-time proof.
Unity of command, increased efficiency from scout and recruit to elongating the life span of every operator in the force from our Human Performance Optimization staff all the way down to the way we equip/employ/deploy more lethal teams. That's what this merger gets us.
I'll always be a proud Pararescueman. Taking my hat ain't changing shit. But I will let you give me a new one if that means relevancy in the next 50 years.