Army Regulation 670-1: What's With the Backwards American Flag Patch?

Have you ever wondered why there is a backwards American flag on military uniforms? It doesn’t seem to make sense, right?

Well, the answer to why the military flag patch is backwards is actually pretty cool. Unless you have served, it’s unlikely you will know what the idea behind it is. But don’t worry—now you are going to understand it perfectly.

So, let’s jump in and answer this curious question: Why are American flags backwards on military uniforms?

AR 670-1 

It all starts with US Army Regulation 670-1. This is the regulation that determines the wear and appearance of army uniforms and insignia. 

This document is updated from time to time and covers all types of uniforms from the various elements of the army. It also covers all of the grooming requirements for army personnel. So, if you are wondering how to cut your hair or shave your beard, this is where you need to look!

The relevant chapter for the wearing of flag insignia is chapter 19. But you need to go to subsection 18 to get the details on the US flag.

So, section 19-18 states that: 

‘All Soldiers will wear the full-color U.S. flag embroidered insignia on utility and organizational uniforms unless deployed or in a field environment. Soldiers will wear the subdued tactical flag insignia while deployed or in a field environment.’

There is a difference here between the ‘full-color’ flag and the ‘subdued tactical flag’. Basically, the full-color flag is what you’d expect (red, white, and blue). The subdued tactical flag is washed out so that it blends into the particular camouflage of the uniform. 

But this doesn’t tell us how to wear the flag, does it? Well, for that, we need to go and check out DA PAM 670-1.

DA PAM 670-1

DA PAM is short for the Department of the Army Pamphlet. So, DA PAM 670-1 is a pamphlet that goes along with AR 670-1 and gives some more specific details about how to wear the uniform. Its official title is Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. The section that is relevant for the reverse flag patch is once again chapter 19, subsection 18. The second paragraph of this section states the following:

‘The U.S. flag embroidered insignia is worn so that the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.’

This is pretty cool, right? It’s not just that the flag is reversed for some bureaucratic reason. The whole point is to make it seem like the flag is flying in the breeze as the troops advance into battle!

It’s important to note that the star field is the most important element of the US flag. That’s why it should face forward. 

As we know from our history lessons, the star field signifies the unity of the states under one banner. It represents strength and solidarity in the face of all odds. 

Understanding this, it’s not surprising that you see the reverse American flag on army uniforms—it’s there for a patriotic reason. 

History of the Backwards American Flag

To understand why the US army flag patch is reversed, we need to go back a long way in our history. See, it’s been a while since we actually carried flags into battle. 

Stretching back to the US Civil War, army units and cavalry units have traditionally designated a standard-bearer to carry the flag into battle. This was deemed a very important and honorable position. 

The tradition of carrying the flag or standard into battle actually goes back to ancient times. The Roman military had a lot of different armies all with their own standard. 

One soldier was always designated to carry this into battle alongside the troops. They took pride in their standard and it gave them the courage to have it with them and also to protect it. 

The US army joins this illustrious tradition in putting the flag on the army uniform. But it doesn’t make too much sense anymore to carry a flag into battle. Battles aren’t fought over open fields very often anymore, and it would be crazy to carry a flag into a tactical assault on an urban area!

But that doesn’t mean the idea shouldn’t remain the same. 

So, the idea is that, when the flag bearer would carry the flag into battle, his forward momentum would always cause the flag to fly backwards behind him. 

When you look at the backwards American flag, you shouldn’t think of it as strange. You should take pride in the military honoring this tradition. It is a symbol that unifies us as we charge into battle!

Why the Backwards Flag is on Our Apparel

The US military tradition is one that we at BeyondHunt try to keep alive and respect every day. This is why we fly the reverse American flag on our apparel. 

This way, when we go deer hunting or hunt for any other wild game, we are reminded of this proud tradition. Also, by going hunting we are practicing many of the skills that our military forebears needed.

We don’t take the backwards flag lightly, and we hope you don’t either.

Take Pride in Your Military History

The United States has a long and proud military history. That’s why it’s important to know what the backwards American flag is all about, along with some other elements of our tradition. 

You should now know what AR 670-1 and DA PAM 670-1 are all about. Hopefully, you can now go and educate some other people when they ask what the idea is behind the reversed flag. 

A lot of men and women wore that reversed flag proudly into battle, just like it was flying in the breeze as they advanced. 

Why not get yourself some apparel with the backwards American flag to display your patriotism when you go hunting today?


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