Distinctive unit insignia (U.S. Army)

Distinctive unit insignia (U.S. Army)

A Distinctive Unit Insignia (DUI) is a metal heraldic device worn by soldiers in the United States Army. The DUI design is derived from the coat of arms authorized for a unit. DUIs may also be called "distinctive insignia" (DI), a "crest" or a "unit crest" by soldiers or collectors. The U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry is responsible for the design, development and authorization of all DUIs.


Distinctive Unit Insignia are currently worn on the beret flash and the Army Green service uniform (Class A uniform) epaulets. Some ceremonial units, such as the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, may wear the Distinctive Unit Insignia on the Army blue uniform.


Pre-World War I Insignia. Distinctive ornamentation of a design desired by the organization was authorized for wear on the Mess Jacket uniform by designated organizations (staff corps, departments, corps of artillery, and infantry and cavalry regiments) per General Order 132 dated December 31 1902. The distinctive ornamentation was described later as coats of arms, pins and devices. The authority continued until omitted in the Army uniform regulation dated December 26, 1911.

Coat of Arms Authorized. Coats of Arms for display on organizational flags was authorized by change 92, para 229, War Department, dated August 18, 1919. War Department Circular 527 dated November 25, 1919, expanded on the use of the coat of arms by stating the following: "Another advantage in this is the fact that these same devices will be suitable for use in other ways, to bring the regimental history home to every member; for example, on stationery, on pins, watch charms, etc., for civilian clothes; on tablets for headquarters, mess rooms, hop rooms, etc., possibly on the white mess jacket, all of which should promote esprit de corps." Change 105 to Army Regulations dated June 3, 1920, required the coat of arms or badge be placed on the organizational standard or color in lieu of shield and crest of the United States. Circular 527, dated November 25, 1919, stated that organizations that had coats of arms should submit them for approval and regiments that did not have a coat of arms should design a coat of arms or a badge and submit for approval.

Distinctive Unit Insignia. Circular 161 dated 29 April 1920 authorized the use of the regimental coat of arms or badge as approved by the War Department for wear on the collar of the white uniform and the lapels of the mess jacket. Circular 244, 1921 states: "It has been approved, in principle, that regiments of the Regular Army and National Guard may wear distinctive badges or trimmings on their uniforms as a means of promoting esprit de corps and keeping alive historical traditions. Various organizations which carry colors or standards have generally submitted coats of arms having certain historical significance. As fast as approved these coats of arms will for the basis for regimental colors or standards which will eventually replace the present regimental colors or standards when these wear out. The use of these coats of arms as collar ornaments in lieu of the insignia of corps, departments, or arms of service would be an example of distinctive badge to be worn by the regiment." `The first unit to wear this insignia was the 51st Artillery which received approval for wear on March 18, 1922.

Present. Up until 1965, only regiments and separate battalions were authorized a coat of arms and distinctive units insignia. Now all major commands, field hospitals, corps, logistics commands and certain other units - groups, for example - are authorized distinctive unit insignia.


The unit commanding officer requests approval of a distinctive unit insignia. A check is made by the Institute of Heraldry to determine the availability of a current copy of the lineage and honor statement and/or history for the unit. If such is not available, one is requested from the U.S. Army Center of Military History. The unit's history is reviewed to determine if the unit may inherit a previously approved distinctive unit insignia or if a new design should be made.

If a new design is to be made, careful study is made of the history and battle honors of the unit. The most important decorations, honors, combat service and missions are represented in the design of the insignia. Sometimes two centuries of history are condensed into symbolism for distinctive unit insignia.

A proposed design is created and sent to the commanding officer for review and concurrence. Upon concurrence by the unit commander an official letter of approval of the distinctive unit insignia is sent to the unit.

Manufacturing drawings and specifications are sent to a certified manufacturer which provides samples of the finished distinctive unit insignia to the Institute of Heraldry for approval. Once approved the manufacturer may produce this insignia. Each manufacturer has an identifying hallmark assigned by the Institute of Heraldry which is applied to the back of the insignia.

Once a distinctive unit insignia is approved it is change only when a heraldic or historical error is found.

The shield shape design is used to identify color bearing organizations (for example, regiments and battalions). Other design patterns will be used for non-color bearing units. The design is based on war service, assignment or accomplishments. Cartoon characters or logos are not authorized as design elements. Symbols are to represent mission rather than actual equipment as equipment becomes out-of-date. Unit designations, numerals, letters, geographical outlines, reproductions of other insignia will not be included as part of the design.


*Paragraph 28-22 of Army Regulation 670-1 authorizes the following types of units to wear a Distinctive Unit Insignia:

*Distinctive unit insignia (DUI) of a design approved by The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army, are authorized and prescribed for wear on the service uniforms of personnel in the following echelons.
#Major Command (MACOM): one design for each MACOM.
#Field armies: one design for each field Army.
#Regional readiness commands (RRC).
#Corps: one design for each corps.
#Division: one design for each division.
#Separate brigades: one design for each separate TOE brigade.
#Numbered group: one design for each TOE numbered group.
#Color-bearing regiments; training support battalions aligned to color-bearing regiments; and separate battalions, fixed type: one design for each regiment and separate TOE battalion.
#Battalions, flexible: one design for each TOE battalion.
#Hospitals: one design for each TOE hospital.
#U.S. Army service schools established by the Department of the Army: one design for each service school.
#U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command training centers: one design for each training center.
#U.S. Army medical centers: one design for each center.
#U.S. Army medical department activities: one design for each activity.
#U.S. Army hospital centers: one design for each center.
#U.S. Army dental activities (DENTAC): one design for each activity.
#Army National Guard Total Army Service Schools (TASS): one design for all TASS activities.
#U.S. Army Reserve schools: one design for all USAR schools.
#Field operating agencies: one design for each activity based on the following criteria.
##An identifiable command structure.
##A valid justification in terms of unit mission, enhancement of unit morale, and degree of unit permanency.
##At least 250 military personnel assigned to the activity.
#Other organizations: one design for each organization, except U.S. Army garrison (active and reserve), meeting the following criteria.
##An identifiable command structure.
##A valid justification in terms of unit mission, enhancement of unit morale, and degree of unit permanency.
##At least 500 military personnel assigned to the organization.
##Organizations not in the categories listed above, which have a DUI by virtue of previous HQDA authority, are permitted to retain that DUI if manufactured and worn by members of the subject organization. In each case, such insignia is authorized for wear only after The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army, has determined the propriety, and granted approval of the insignia.
##Units not authorized a DUI in their own right will wear the DUI of the command to which assigned. Those units not authorized a DUI in their own right, and not assigned to a higher echelon that is authorized a DUI, may, with the approval of the Army commander concerned, wear the DUI of the Army area in which located. Personnel participating in the AGR and ROTC simultaneous membership programs will wear the DUI of the commands, units, and agencies to which attached.
##Personnel assigned to a joint command, DOD, or Federal agency will wear the DUI designated for joint or DOD agencies.
#Provisional units. The authorization of a DUI will not be granted for provisional units.

By whom worn

#When a DUI is authorized, all personnel assigned to the organization wear the insignia, except general officers and the Sergeant Major of the Army. General officers wear their regimental distinctive insignia (RDI) on the black pullover sweater. The Sergeant Major of the Army wears the SMA insignia in lieu of the DUI. Reserve component units with WARTRACE alignments may wear the DUI of the Active unit to which they are aligned, in lieu of their peacetime DUI, provided major RSC or state TAG, and MACOM commanders agree on such wear.

Where worn

* The design of the DUI is metal, or metal and enamel, only. Enlisted personnel wear the insignia on the Army green uniform coat, the black pullover sweater, and the beret.

How worn

*Enlisted personnel wear the DUI on the green service uniform coat, centered on the shoulder loops an equal distance from the outside shoulder seam to the outside edge of the button, with the base of the insignia toward the outside shoulder seam. Enlisted personnel are not authorized to wear the DUI on the enlisted green dress uniform (worn with white shirt and necktie/neck tab). Officers wear the DUI centered on the shoulder loops, an equal distance from the inside edge of their grade insignia to the outside edge of the button, with the base of the insignia toward the outside shoulder seam.

Units not listed in AR 670-1 (other than USAG) may request a DUI be authorized if the unit has at least 500 military assigned (250 for DA operating agencies).

The Army element of joint commands may be authorized a DUI if the Army element has at least 500 Army personnel.

All TOE regiments and TOE separate battalions are authorized a coat of arms for display on the organizational flag. The coat of arms consists of a shield displayed on the breast of the eagle on the organizational flag as shown in chapter 5, AR 840-10.

If the unit is active Army and has war/campaign service, a crest is also authorized. All reserve units have the same design (minuteman) and all national guard units display the crest authorized for the state to which assigned.

The request for the DUI is also used for the request for the coat of arms. TIOH will provide a design along with the distinctive unit insignia. After the command concurs with the design, TIOH will prepare a flag drawing and forward it to Army Support Office in Philadelphia for permanent retention.

After the organization receives the authorization letter for the coat of arms, a requisition (DD Form 1348-6 Manual) for the flag may be submitted to the Army Support Office, Philadelphia.

Cavalry units

Infantry units

upport units


* The Institute of Heraldry, Heraldic Services Handbook, 1997
* Heralding Devices, Soldiers Magazine, January 1985
* The Quartermaster Heraldic Section & The U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry [http://www.qmfound.com/heraldry.htm]
* U.S. Army Heraldry [http://www.qmfound.com/army_heraldry.htm]

External links

* [http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/ Official web site]

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