Subdued sew-on grade insignia is commonly referred to as Army Combat Uniform (ACU) rank insignia, but it’s also worn on the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform (A2CU), the Patrol Cap, and the cold-weather (Extended Cold Weather Clothing System) jacket made with Gore-Tex. On Utility uniforms such as the ACU, A2CU, and the Maternity Work Uniform, rank insignia is attached to hook-and-loop (Velcro) pads found on the uniforms and cap. Subdued sew-on insignia is used on the Patrol Cap, while a cloth rank insignia tab is worn over the front tab of the Gore-Tex parka.

Please ensure you make the appropriate selection in the drop-down boxes to the right when ordering, paying special attention to the Pattern option—Soldiers currently serving in the Regular Army, Army Reserve, or National Guard must choose the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) if they intend to wear the insignia while on duty.

The United States Army introduced insignia embroidered on pads with backings made of hook-and-loop fasteners when it replaced the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) with the Army Combat Uniform in 2004 (the official wear-out for the BDU was 2008). The move was made in part to help reduce the costs associated with uniform maintenance for Soldiers, who would be able to quickly and easily remove various insignia without the expense of having them sewn directly onto the uniform. Similarly, the ACU was made with a “wrinkle-free” nylon-cotton blend that didn’t require dry cleaning, saving Soldiers even more money.
But Soldiers began to voice concerns about the Velcro-based insignia almost immediately. A February 7, 2007 New York Times article titled  “Army Is Going Wrinkle-Free; Velcro Becomes Norm” stated that Soldiers were complaining “almost universally about the Velcro,” which they quickly realized was a concept that looked good on the drawing board but failed miserably in the real world.

One very serious objection was the highly noticeable sound that Velcro makes when being opened—something that could happen easily in an operational environment if a Soldier brushed up against barbed wire or another object that tugged on a Velcro flap. It also turned out that in desert environs of Iraq, sand would get trapped in the hook-and-loop pile and prevent the tab from staying securely fastened, a situation that was exacerbated each time the insignia was removed and reattached. And some soldiers simply preferred the more professional appearance of embroidered insignia sewn directly onto the uniform or cap.

For now, there are now formal plans to move away from Velcro ACU rank insignia. But Soldiers have had the option to sew embroidered rank insignia onto uniforms since 2011—provided the insignia is sewn onto the Velcro pad on the uniform itself, that is.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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