Brigade bans combat patches to build morale

Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, call-up a simulated nine-line medevac report during Raider First Responder training, April 11, 2014. Soldiers learned the basics of battlefield casualty care during 40 hours of classroom instruction, and were required to pass a written test and practical evaluation. (Photo by Spc. William Howard)

Some soldiers in Colorado are all riled up as they’re now being told that while in the field their combat patches, badges and insignia can no longer be worn.

The commander of Fort Carson’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team wants soldiers’ uniforms to be bare to the bone, only showing name, rank, American flag, U.S. Army tape and the unit’s 4th Infantry Division insignia, according to an article in Army Times.

Some soldiers are miffed.

“Combat patches aren’t worn to say ‘look I’ve deployed’ or ‘I love this unit’,” wrote Tom Simpkins on the Army Times Facebook page in an answer to a request for comment. “I wear mine as a scar, I wear it for every single person who deployed with me and every minute of rough times we went through.”

But the purpose of this new rule is to promote a unified Army culture, Col. David Hodne told the Colorado Springs Gazette.  Hodne says he also wants to boost morale by making newcomers feel welcome.

“While we are all proud of our individual accomplishments, when training in the field, we’re building a team and do not need to focus, or be distracted, by our own or others’ individual accomplishments,” said Maj. Kevin Boyd, spokesman for the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

“As time goes on and the Army’s transitioned somewhat, we find more and more of our soldiers without that combat experience,” Boyd told Military Times.  In garrison, soldiers can pin back on anything they want, he added.

Boyd said he and Hodne had similar experiences previously, such as the 75th Ranger Regiment not wearing any significant insignia while in the field. “We’ve just enhanced that for the entire brigade here,” Boyd said of the Carson brigade, which has more than 4,000 soldiers.

But many soldiers who strongly believe, “you earn it, you keep it, you wear it,” say they value their combat patches, badges and insignia because they display who they are and what they’ve done.

Others, however, have said the new rule could be a good move for the ‘newbie’ in an all-experienced unit.

One soldier, not identified, wrote in an email to Military Times that after graduating basic combat training, he wished a no-combat patch rule could have been implemented during his first unit assignment because his lack of patches was the reason he stood out.

Some soldiers say they have experienced a no-patch rule before, both overseas and stateside, according to the Times.


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