Proper Wear of Shoulder Sleeve Insignia Former Wartime Service

The original intent behind the Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service (SSI-FWTS), more commonly referred to as a “Combat Patch,” was to show appreciation for an individual soldier’s support in combat operations. It was also, originally, applicable only to soldiers who were assigned or serving with larger deployed echelons such as brigades, divisions, corps, Army commands or higher. The Army Regulation (AR) covering the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia is 670-1. In Paragraph 28, sub-section 17, the guidelines for the “combat patch” are specifically detailed and outlined.

The general guidelines for wear of the “combat patch” are: 1. Wear is reserved for individuals who were members of United States Army units during the operations. 2. The Secretary of the Army or higher must declare as a hostile environment the theater or area of operations to which the unit is assigned, or Congress must pass a Declaration of War. 3. 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. 4.

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. 5. The Chief of Staff, Army, must approve the authorization for wear of the shoulder sleeve insignia for former wartime service. The specific guidelines and restrictions for authorization of “combat patches” in support of (ISO) Operation Enduring Freedom are: 1.

The deployment must be or have been after 19 September 2001. 2. The Soldiers must have been deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, or Uzbekistan. In addition, after 31 July 2002, Soldiers who are deployed to the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations (AO) ISO Operation Enduring Freedom authorized combat zone tax exclusion as identified by CENTCOM CCJ1 AOR Danger Pay Entitlements. 3. Soldiers who were deployed in the AO on training exercises or ISOs other than Operation Enduring Freedom are not uthorized the “combat patch,” unless those exercises or operations became combat or support missions to Operation Enduring Freedom. The specific guidelines and restrictions for authorization of “combat patches” ISO Operation Iraqi Freedom are: 1. The deployment must be or have been after 19 March 2003. 2. The Soldiers must have been deployed in the CENTCOM AO, or participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom while deployed in Turkey, Israel, and Aegis cruisers. 3. For Soldiers who served with the 1st Marine Division from 19 March 2003 to 21 April 2003 during combat operations are uthorized the SSI of the 1st Marine Division as their “combat patch. ” 4. Soldiers who were deployed in the AO on training exercises or ISOs other than Operation Iraqi Freedom are not authorized the “combat patch,” unless those exercises or operations became combat or support missions to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sergeant Major Katrina Easley, branch chief for uniform policy at Army G-1 and the point of contact for the All Army Activity (ALARACT) 55-2007, which is the most recent update to AR 670-1 with respect to “Combat Patches” and is additionally detailed in Appendix F of the 03 February 2005 AR update, as quoted stating “Soldiers deploy differently now, at smaller echelon levels such as companies, battalions, combat brigade teams and as individual augmentees in support of larger echelon units. At those levels, they weren’t authorized to wear their unit patch as a combat patch. ” The ALARACT, published 28 March 2007, is utilized to append and revise the regulation pronouncing: “the wear policy for the SSI-FWTS must be revised to clearly capture the wartime relationship with fighting units on the ground.

This policy change is effective immediately and is not retroactive. ” In addition, the policy change and guidance is applicable to “Soldiers of all components that deploy during periods of service designated for wear of the SSI-FWTS, in accordance with AR 670-1, Paragraph 28-17. ” Originally, for a Soldier to be authorized to wear a “combat patch”, the regulation required a minimum of thirty days in the specified combat zone before approval of a “combat patch” could be authorized for wear.

Under the new guidance, this also has changed and states that there is now “no time-in-theater requirement to be authorized to wear the SSI-FWTS. ” When a Soldier is initially assigned or re-assigned to a new unit, they are authorized and required to wear the patch specific to that command on their left sleeve. Under the new guidance, when a Soldier is deployed to a designated combat zone, those Soldiers are now authorized to wear the company-level or higher patch that they serve with on their right sleeves.

One of the most prevalent changes is that the authorization of a “combat patch” is no longer dictated by the Unit’s Headquarters element deploying. It also no longer matters how many times the Units alignment or Operational Control (OPCON) changes during the deployment. When an element below Company level deploy, the Soldiers assigned to that element are now mandated to wear the “combat patch” of the lowest echelon in their “new deployed Chains of Command. ” The only limitation is that the lowest echelon must be at the Company level or higher.

In situations where there is no intermediate unit at the Company level or higher, the deployed Soldiers will wear the “combat patch” of the “Senior Army Command in the Theater. ” The principal addition to the regulation from this ALARACT is the clarification regarding which “combat patch” should be worn. There seemed to be confusion regarding “Soldiers who are cross-leveled, assigned, attached or serving as augmentees to deployed units”, as well as “Soldiers who are temporary duty (TDY) on orders through the use of DD Form 1610 (Request and Authorization for TDY Travel of DOD Personnel)” in a combat zone.

The new guidance states that when the Soldiers fall within either of the above stated criteria, those Soldiers will wear the same “combat patch” worn by the personnel of the unit that they are attached or OPCON. The only personnel that this does not affect are “members of Trial Defense and CIDC, who will wear the SSI of their respective commands as their ‘combat patch. ’”