Ornamental braids in the Inspector General Corps’ branch colors of Dark Blue and Light Blue are used at hatband on the service cap for Field Grade and Company Grade officers. Dark Blue braids is used for sleeve ornamentation on the Army Service Uniform and the Blue Mess Dress uniform worn by Inspector General Corps officers.

The Army’s Inspector General’s Department was established on March 13, 1813, but the office of Inspector General of the Army was created by the Continental Congress on December 13, 1777. The primary function associated with the new position was reviewing troops to ensure that Soldiers and Officers alike were adequately trained in “exercise and manoeuvres” developed by the Board of War, to guarantee that disciplinary rules were being observed and enforced, and to make sure that officers were exercising their authorities in an appropriate and just manner.

The Army’s first Inspector General, Major General Thomas Conway, served in the office for just a few months before submitting his resignation because, according to the Office of the Inspector General Web site, “he couldn't get along with anyone in the American Army, [including] General Washington.” He was succeeded by Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben—born with the rather ostentatious name Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben—a Prussian who introduced a system of drills and disciplines that played a substantial role in turning the Continental Army into a fighting force to be reckoned with.

Von Steuben’s efforts were not received kindly by many of the colonels leading regiments in the Army; they viewed him as a “spy” and an interloper set on diminishing their command authority. But von Steuben handled their complaints with tact, courtesy, and respect, winning them over to his point of view and thereby effectively implementing his principles.

Even with the establishment of the Inspector General’s Department, however, commanders still tended to view its personnel as outsiders. This changed substantially in 1876 when the Secretary of War revised the reporting status of the Inspector General of the Army and his staff; the IG of the Army reported to the General of the Army, while “field IGs” reported to the commanding general of the unit to which they were assigned. With these changes, commanders viewed IGs more as partners in achieving mission goals and achieving optimal unit effectiveness rather than nitpickers or snoops whose reputations were built up only when others failed.

Today, the Office of the Inspector General is one of seven components of the Office of the Secretary of the Army, and is divided into three divisions: Inspections, Assistance, and Investigations. Reporting to the Secretary of the Army or the Chief of Staff, the Inspector General conducts inquiries into and reports on the “discipline, efficiency, and economy of the Army.”

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