Military insignias are more than just decorations or pieces of a tradition. They convey useful information to soldiers while they work, and that makes them a vital tool for the armed forces.
Examining the military insignia that are currently in use shows that they all use simple designs with large shapes and repeating patterns. Many of them also indicate increasing ranks simply by adding an extra stripe or repeating shape. That is by design, since it allows soldiers to quickly look at a symbol, take in the general shape, and match it with a rank. More complex insignias would be harder to recognize in an emergency and inhibit the chain of command.
They Show Achievement
The most prominent military insignia’s show rank, but many military forces also issue badges that represent other achievements. For example, they can show that a soldier has trained in a special field, or that they have won awards for their skills as a marksman. Just like the rank insignia’s, these badges allow people to identify soldiers quickly in an emergency so that they can find someone with the right skills to solve a problem.
Some modern military insignias are quite old. For example, the chevron has represented enlisted soldiers in the army of the United States for almost two hundred years. The details of the symbols have changed over time with the rest of the uniform, but the core elements have remained in consistent use. That ties the soldiers to a long tradition of service, and it also makes sure that some of the insignia have lodged in popular culture, which makes them much easier for people to recognize.
Soldiers earn their insignias. It is common for soldiers to go without any such markings until they complete their basic training, and earning their insignia is a point of pride that marks a significant accomplishment. Many other insignias are earned as awards for challenging achievements, or for completing grueling training programs. The difficult involved in earning these symbols mean that they can be a point of pride for soldiers in addition to serving a practical role, so they should be treated with all the respect that is due to a symbol of accomplishment.
Some Have Civilian Origins
While many of the symbols that see military use did originate among the armed forces, that is not always the case. For example, it is common for chaplains to wear religious symbols that originated in the civilian world, since those are the symbols that most people will recognize. Similarly, the stars that commonly indicate high rank are symbols of achievement in every part of society. This is not the case for every symbol, but ties to the civilian world help new recruits to quickly understand what each symbol is supposed to mean in the service.