Inspector General collar devices feature the branch insignia consisting of a sword and fasces with axe blade, crossed and superimposed with a wreath containing the inscription “DROIT ET AVANT,” French for “Right and Forward.” Before 1976, enlisted personnel who had been detailed to serve as assistants to Inspectors General were not allowed to wear the disk-based collar insignia featuring the insignia, except for a brief period following World War I (1919-1921). In 1976, Army Chief of Staff Frederick Weyand authorized the wear of the disk version of the insignia by roughly enlisted personnel serving in the offices of Inspectors General.

Although the Inspector General Department was formally established in 1813, almost no thought was given to providing the officers who served in it with any type of distinguishing marks or insignia. Although they were allowed different colored feathers and pom-poms to set them apart from other officers on the general staff, it wasn’t until 1872 that they were authorized to wear shoulder knots with the initials “ID” in old English script; the letters were an abbreviation of “Inspector General’s Department.”

It wasn’t until 1890 that the Secretary of War approved the insignia for officers serving in the Inspector General’s Department: a crossed sword and fasces with wreath. The sword symbolized the military aspect of the officer, while the fasces, an ancient symbol used to represent Roman magistrates, was emblematic of the authority exercised by IG officers. Although the fasces is where the word “fascism” is derived, its longstanding use as a heraldic image predates that association, and as a result they are found adorning everything from U.S. coins (the old “Mercury” dime) to various governmental seals, such as the Seal of the United States Senate and the Seal of the United States Tax Court.

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