No reversed ‘combat patches’ allowed

Soldiers shouldn’t make ‘mirror’ images of combat patches (subscription only)

In Army Times (subscription only) recently:

[A] worldwide message from the Office of the G-1 (Human Resources) at the Pentagon emphasizes that units are not authorized to modify shoulder sleeve insignia without prior approval from the G-1.

Specifically, the directive wants to make sure soldiers know they cannot make mirror-image changes to insignia that are worn as combat patches.

Combat patches, “shoulder sleeve insignia — former wartime service” or SSI-FWTS, are worn on the right shoulder and signify that a soldier has seen combat with the unit the insignia represents. At issue are the patches for units which “face” one way or another, such as the horse on the 1st Cavalry Division’s patch or the Indian chief’s head on the 2nd Division’s patch. A few examples of “reversed” patches are in the image. Click for a better look.

Murdoc finds this directive a bit odd considering the fact that the US Flag on the right shoulder is required to be “reversed”

As far as that, goes, however, it’s also required to be red, white, and blue, not the “subdued” version of greens and black. I’ve seen many pictures of US troops with these subdued flag patches and I expect that we’ll continue to see pictures of troops with “reversed” combat patches.

The full text of the recent directive is in the extended entry.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service (Combat Patch)

This message includes the most recent guidance from the DCS Army G-1, Human Resources and Policy, for combat patch authorization and wear on Army uniforms. Please review this information and then disseminate the information to your respective military populations at your earliest convenience.

Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, contains the directions for the authorization for wear of combat patches for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Click on this link for specific regulatory information and guidance: http://www.usapa.army.mil/pdffiles/r670_1.pdf

Chapter 28-17, pg. 246 and Appendix F, pg. 336:

28-17. Shoulder sleeve insignia-former wartime service (SSI-FWTS)
a. General. Authorization to wear a shoulder sleeve insignia indicating former wartime service applies only to soldiers who are assigned to U.S. Army units that meet all the following criteria. Soldiers who were prior members of other Services that participated in operations that would otherwise meet the criteria below are not authorized to wear the SSI-FWTS. Wear is reserved for individuals who were members of U.S. Army units during the operations.

(1) The Secretary of the Army or higher must declare as a hostile environment the theater or area of operation to which the unit is assigned, or Congress must pass a Declaration of War.

(2) The units must have actively participated in, or supported ground combat operations against hostile forces in which they were exposed to the threat of enemy action or fire, either directly or indirectly.

(3) The military operation normally must have lasted for a period of thirty (30) days or longer. An exception may be made when U.S. Army forces are engaged with a hostile force for a shorter period of time, when they meet all other criteria, and a recommendation from the general or flag officer in command is forwarded to the Chief of Staff, Army.

(4) The Chief of Staff, Army, must approve the authorization for wear of the shoulder sleeve insignia for former wartime service.

(13) Operation Enduring Freedom: from 19 September 2001 to a date to be determined, for soldiers assigned to units participating in Operation Enduring Freedom. Soldiers must have been deployed in the CENTCOM area of operations and been under the command of the CINC, CENTCOM. Soldiers who were deployed in the area of operations on training exercises or in support of operations other than Enduring Freedom are not authorized the SSI-FWTS, unless those exercises or operations became combat or support missions to Operation Enduring Freedom.

(14) Operation Iraqi Freedom: from 19 March 2003 to a date to be determined, for soldiers assigned to units participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Soldiers must have been deployed in the CENTCOM area of operations and been under the command of the CG, CENTCOM. Soldiers who were deployed in the area of operations on training exercises or in support of operations other than Iraqi Freedom are not authorized the SSI-FWTS, unless those exercises or operations became combat or support missions to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Appendix F
Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service (SSI-FWTS)

F-1. Applicability.

This guidance applies to soldiers of all components (Active, ARNG and USAR) that deploy during periods of service designated for wear of the SSI-FWTS, in accordance with paragraph 28-17.

F-2. General.

a. There is no time-in-theater requirement to be authorized to wear the SSI-FWTS.

b. A deployed unit that is authorized to wear an SSI in its own right (or an organic component thereof), in accordance with para 28-16, will wear that unit’s SSI as the SSI-FWTS. This is true regardless of whether the headquarters element deploys, and regardless of the number of changes to the unit’s alignment or operational control(OPCON) during the period of deployment.

c. When a unit not entitled to its own SSI deploys, the OPCON relationship prior to deployment is terminated, and a new OPCON relationship is established. Members of these units will wear the SSI of
the lowest echelon deployed unit entitled to an SSI in each of their new deployed chains of command as their SSI-FWTS.

d. When there is no intermediate unit that has its own SSI in the deployed chain of command, members of units not entitled to their own SSI will wear the SSI of the senior Army command in the theater as their
SSI-FWTS.

e. Soldiers who are cross-leveled, assigned, attached, or augmenting deployed units, and soldiers who are TDY on orders through the use of DD Form 1610 (Request and Authorization for TDY Travel of DOD Personnel) will wear the same SSI-FWTS worn by members of the deployed unit(s) to which attached or OPCON. This does not apply to members of Trial Defense and CIDC, who will wear the SSI of their respective commands as their SSI-FWTS.

f. Soldiers authorized to wear more than one SSI-FWTS may choose which SSI-FWTS they wear. Soldiers also may elect not to wear the SSI-FWTS.

g. Precedence was established in Vietnam for elements organic to, or an integral part of an organization to wear the organizational SSI as their SSI-FWTS.

Comments

  1. From first looks, not that I have looked into it. I would stab a guess at some Land Rover modification.

  2. The logic for the reversed flag is as follows: imagine the wearer of said patch is carrying a flag on a standard in front of him, as if part of a color guard, and marching forward. Since the flag’s union is closest to the standard, if you are looking at the person from the right the flag appears to be ‘reversed’, i.e., the union is in front. Now, the flag always gets the position of honor, so to enable the wearer to have a flag patch in the correct position and appear as though the flag is being carried, the flag has to be reversed. This is hard to describe without pictures. The same logic doesn’t apply to unit patches, so the ‘reversed’ patches make no sense. The other thing about combat patches that makes no sense to me — and relates to the above — is that I see the flag patch almost always worn below the combat patch. Seems to me the flag should always be worn above the combat patch, both from an honors standpoint and from the ease of adding the combat patch to a uniform with the flag patch already attached.

  3. Grumpy, On the ACU, it is currently no longer authorized to wear the flag below the combat patch. It is now rightfully displayed above the combat patch. Additionally, once you’ve understood the logic (as Grumpy wrote) for the wear of the so-called ‘reversed’ American flag, the ‘correct’ ones look wrong. Heh.

  4. I’m former Marine still getting used to Army patches. The flag is just stupid and defeats the purpose of camouflage. The flag was under the combat patches on the BDU’s because it was a new directive to wear the flag and they did not make everyone cut off their combat patches and move it. Still pissed I can’t wear a 1st Marine Division patch. The Army only allows Army unit combat patches. Some of the former Marines in my unit wear them anyhow.

  5. If they’d move the American flag to the left shoulder, it would look right to everyone. That would necessitate changing the traditional locations of some other patches, but hey, we’re transforming, aren’t we? ;-)