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Home : About : Joint Staff Identification Badge : Joint Staff Legacy Badge

Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff












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History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Badge

From the foundation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1942 until 1949, there was no device to distinguish the joint role served by the service chiefs and staff officers who supported them. On 25 March 1949, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal authorized all servicemembers and civilians serving in a full-time duty status in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and associated boards and staffs to wear the Department of Defense (DOD) identification badge.

On February 5, 1962, the director of the Joint Staff, Lieutenant General Earle G. Wheeler, USA, wrote the assistant secretary of defense indicating he favored reinstitution of the badge or a similar device for military personnel on the Joint Staff. Wheeler believed the badge was a way to recognize “important and loyal service performed in positions of responsibility.” He also recommended the imposition of stringent criteria to eliminate the previous feature of automatically awarding the badge.

Later, on December 20, 1962, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell L. Gilpatric reinstated the DOD identification badge, limiting issuance only to those individuals assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Gilpatric simultaneously advised the Joint Staff that there was no objection to institution of an appropriate device to recognize “important and loyal service performed by Joint Staff personnel.” As such, the Personnel Directorate of the Joint Staff and the US Army Institute of Heraldry collaborated to develop a unique identification badge for the Joint Staff.

The Joint Chiefs approved their design on April 3, 1963 and issued Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum 271-63 with instructions that the new badge would be awarded to “any member of the Armed Forces assigned to the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” The official description reads:

Within an oval silver metal wreath of laurel 2 1/2 inches in height and 2 inches in width overall, the shield of the United States (the Chief [the upper third of the shield] in blue enamel and the 13 stripes alternating white and red enamel) superimposed on four gold metal unsheathed swords, two in pale [vertical] and two in saltire [crossed] with points and pommels resting on the wreath, the badges and grips entwined with a gold metal continuous scroll surrounding the shield with the word JOINT at the top and the words CHIEFS OF STAFF at the bottom, all in blue enamel letters.

The symbolism of the badge includes the laurel for achievement, courage and victory. The four unsheathed swords referring to the armed might of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force and their combined constant vigilance and readiness in the defense of the United States.

This summary was produced on June 20, 2019 and is derived from a Joint History Office paper on the history of the Joint Staff identification badge produced on October 19, 1977.