The first Psychological Operations insignia, authorized in 1990, was for enlisted personnel and featured the now-familiar imagery of the knight chess piece, crossed swords, and lightning bolts on a disc. Nearly fourteen years would elapse before the Deputy Chief of Staff would approve a collar insignia for officers featuring the same design but without a backing disc. In October 2006, Psychological Operations was established as a basic branch of the Army and the design became the branch insignia.

The game of chess and knights in particular have long been used as symbols of strategy. According to The Institute of Heraldry, a knight chess piece is a “traditional symbol of special operations,” but does not explain the reason for this, viz., it is the only piece that is able to “leap” over an opposing piece and strike behind it. Crossed swords are symbols of the combat capabilities of Psychological Operations units, while the lightning bolts represent their ability to strike anywhere and with breathtaking speed.

A knight and lightning bolts are used in the imagery of the Distinctive Unit Insignia (DUI), or Unit Crest, of the 2nd Psychological Operations Group. Lightning bolts also appear in the DUI of the 13th, 16th, and 17th Psychological Operations Battalions.

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