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ARLINGTON, Va. — Every soldier in the Army, not just those deployed, must now wear the U.S. flag insignia on his or her utility uniform, according to a new Army rule.

By tradition, soldiers don’t sew the flag on the shoulder of their right uniform until they are deployed. As soon as they are back at their home station, the flag must come off.

But on Feb. 11, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker authorized the universal adoption of the insignia as a reminder to all soldiers that the Army is at war, according to Army spokesman Wayne Morse.

“We’re more of an expeditionary force now,” Morse said in a Friday telephone interview. “We’re at war, and we will be for the foreseeable future.”

There’s another, more practical reason behind the new rule, Morse said: “It saves wear and tear on the uniform.”

“Instead of having people tear the patch off when they get home [from a deployment], and then having to put it back on again, we’re all going to wear it,” he said.

Soldiers have until Oct. 1, 2005, to get the insignia sewn on their uniforms.

The flag Schoomaker has authorized for wear is the “reverse field” patch, in red, white and blue.

Subdued flags (those whose colors match either the woodland or desert camouflage Battle Dress Uniform) are not authorized.

Army regulations call for the flag to be sewn on the right sleeve, one half-inch below the shoulder seam. If a combat patch is also placed on the right shoulder, the flag is sewn 1/8 inch below the combat patch.

Soldiers can purchase the flags now at all Army Military Clothing Sales Stores, according to a news release sent out Thursday by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES).

The flags will also be online at after March 1, the release said.


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