Yellow was first associated with a specific branch in 1855 when the Dragoon designation was replaced with Cavalry and yellow replaced orange for the trimmings of caps and coats. While the introduction of motorized transport at the start of the 20th spelled the eventual demise of the branch, it continued on with Yellow as its branch color even as Armor and even Airborne units began to fill the operational roles of Cavalry.

In 1947, the Army assigned the colors of Green and White to the Armor branch, but this designation would be short-lived. Following the abolition of Cavalry as a unique branch, Yellow was assigned to Armor—but some legacy Cavalry units were retained and also allowed to keep the color. Today, just eleven branches are assigned a single color, with Yellow being the only one that is used for more than one.

For branches with two branch colors, the first-named color is the one used for suspenders and scarves. The official colors of the Electronic Warfare branch are golden yellow and black, so yellow is used for suspenders and scarves.

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