By MyBaseGuide Staff Member
If you’re just getting started in military life or looking to join up, getting your uniform is going to be one of the first items on the to-do list. If you’re not already familiar with the U.S. military uniform, one particular element may take you by surprise – the American flag patch. What should be a simple symbol of our country often ends up being confusing for many when they find out that the flag is actually backwards on uniforms. So what gives? Why is the flag backwards on military uniforms?

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Is the Backwards Flag an Error?

Why is the flag on military uniforms backwards? Was it a weird mistake? Nope! It’s not a weird sewing or printing problem that the military just never bothered to fix. None of the images of American soldiers with backwards flags on their uniforms are flipped, edited in software, or otherwise manipulated disingenuously, either. Now that we have that out of the way… You’ve noticed that the American flag patch on military uniforms is flipped the wrong way – with the field of stars facing the front. To understand the reasoning behind this, it’s important that you understand more about the American flag itself.

The American Flag in Battle

Back in the days of the Civil War, flag bearers were common military positions within the greater infantry and cavalry units. As the flag bearers stormed into battle, the American flag would sway behind them with the momentum, making it look like the flag was backwards as it flew. Okay, so what? Why is the flag backwards on a military uniform? When the star field is first and foremost, it looks like the flag itself is storming into battle, much like our brave service men and women. If the flag were not mirrored on the Y axis, the star field would be on the left, making it look like the flag was retreating from battle instead of facing it head-on. This backwards American flag is called the Assaulting Forward. Of course, America has never been a cowardly country, so we can’t have any iconography whatsoever that would make it look like we were retreating even in the slightest. The flag faces forward for the battle the same as our troops do.

A History of Backwards Flags on Military Uniforms

People asking, “Why is the flag backwards on military uniforms?” often don’t realize that this hasn’t always been the case. Initially, only paratroopers had the backwards American flag patches (or any American flag patch, for that matter) on their uniforms. This was because they were usually the principal units that would go behind enemy lines. Having the flag on their shoulder was the only way to ensure that other American troops recognized them on the battlefield. Between 2003 and 2005, the military began slowly integrating the backwards American flag military patch into the uniforms of all branches. Army Regulation AR 670-1 outlines this rule. In 2005, it became mandatory for the flag to be included on all uniforms of all branches. This includes combat uniforms, military dress uniforms, and any other uniform in use by DoD personnel.

You Tell Us: Why Is the Flag Backwards on Military Uniforms?

Why is the flag backwards on military uniforms? Looks like you can answer that for yourself, now! Go out and tell all your new recruit buddies or uninformed brothers and sisters in arms all about the Assaulting Forward, the backwards military American flag, and its origins.

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