As for the term "Green Beret" -
A beret is a form of headgear. Green is a color.
A "green beret" is a form of headgear of that color.
The term "Green Beret" came about when Robin Moore's very successful book, "The Green Berets", was published.
The "Green Beret" term has come into general use and acceptance and understandably so via the mainstream entertainment / and print media.
However, the proper term is "Special Forces Soldier".
This denotes any Soldier serving with a United States Army Special Forces unit.
Back in the day the green beret, after its formal presentation to Special Forces by President Kennedy, could be and was worn by anyone assigned to an SF Group. The only important and meaningful designator was the presence of either a small cloth bar denoting which Group the Soldier was serving with sewn onto the beret AND the Special Forces unit emblem positioned above it.
This combination denoted a Soldier either assigned to the unit in a support role OR a Soldier who was not yet a successful graduate of the Special Forces Qualification Course. The "flash" qualified guys called the bar a "candy stripe". If you were an non-qual and hoping to get to SFQC it was a real motivator to get out from under that beret and into one with a full Group "flash".
The "flash" was and remains a shield shaped patch featuring the distinct color or colors of the Group one is assigned to. The SF unit emblem is affixed to the center of the "flash" if you are enlisted.
If you are an officer or warrant officer one's commissioned rank replaces the unit emblem.
If you are a "full flash" qualified SF Soldier this is how, in the old days, one could tell at a glance if you were wearing your beret.
Back in the 80s the Army created the Special Forces tab ("long tab) in conjunction with its new Special Forces branch and 18 Series. The full flash became common headgear on a green beret and it is the "long tab" worn on the left shoulder that denotes a fully qualified SF Operator.
The wearing of a green beret by support troops or non SF qualified troops went away some time ago - as did the candy stripe - and support / non-quals now wear a maroon beret with the Group "flash" and appropriate unit or rank emblem. Many Group Support Battalion personnel are parachute qualified and Special Forces is denoted formally as being an Airborne unit.
That being said -
Anyone from the pre / mid 1980s generations of those assigned to an Army Special Forces unit could and did wear a "green beret". Their qualification status was public knowledge by either the presence of a "candy stripe" or "full flash" on the beret.
Technically whether fully qualified as an operator or not the Service Member was / did serve in Special Forces and under a "green beret".
After military service it is up to the individual to qualify in what capacity he/she served in the unit / Group...as a "candy striper" or "flash qualified" Special Forces Soldier.
For example, upon my approved 4187 to attend the SFQC I was authorized to wear the Special Forces shoulder patch and a green beret with "candy stripe". It was an honor to do so - but I couldn't wait to be rid of the "stripe of shame" as the old "full flash" guys sometimes called it
When I graduated with SFQC 3-80, as an Honor Graduate of the class, I was privileged to don the beret with "full flash" (10th Special Forces Group at the time).
When the 18 Series became the norm I changed my MOS, per the requirement, from 11 Bravo, "S" (the designator for Special Forces Qualified) to 18 Bravo (Special Forces Light Weapons Sergeant) and I sewed on my "long tab".
Point is - that's how it works when you're in Group qualification wise.
The proper question of Mr. Webb is this:
"Jim (Webb), did you attend and graduate SFQC and if so, what was your class number, please?"
"Jim (Webb), if you attended and graduated Ranger School what was your class number, please?
Neither is "classified" information and is provided on one's 2-1 and DD 214 which is available under FOIA.
JimH - (wasn't going to forget you, brother
). I believe you are a former Marine and went to the Army ("the dark side") after your service in the Corps. What was your SFQC class number, please? And did you attend while Active Duty or on orders placing you on active duty while serving with one of our Reserve/National Guard Groups?
'Cause in the Alpha Dog world of SF qualified Soldiers the Active Duty guys ALWAYS used to look down their noses at Reserve/NG SF Soldiers who qualfied as "weekend warriors"
We can be a tough crowd to please.
I would close with my non-distinction of the two any longer. I served with the 10th and 7th (Charlie Company, 3/7, El Salvador campaign) (Active Duty units), the 12th and then the 19th in 2002/2003 (Operation Iraqi Freedom).
Our two current National Guard SF Groups, the 19th and 20th, are as good a operators as the Active Duty side of the house today; they have seen their share of Wounded and Killed in Action; been awarded their fair share of Valor awards and Purple Hearts; and fought in every theatre of the Global War on Terrorism since it began.
They undergo the same rigorous Selection Phase as the Active side of the house and the same SFQC course, now many months longer than when I went through now 30+ years ago.
In fact, the coming issue of "The Drop", the Special Forces Association's (SFA) quarterly magazine for its members, is dedicated to the service and sacrifice of the 19th and 20th Groups.
And the SFA membership has its own vetting process and its own "green beret" with SFA "flash" and center emblem...or you can wear the beret and Group flash you served with and is the most meaningful to you.
De Oppresso Liber!