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,
5. The Chief of Staff, Army, must approve the authorization
for wear of the shoulder sleeve insignia for former
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
2. The Soldiers must have been deployed to Afghanistan,
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