Decoding Military Fashion: Unveiling the Proper Placement of the Flag on ACU

Placing the Flag on the ACU: A Guide to Proper Display

The ACU, or Army Combat Uniform, is a distinctive and practical uniform worn by members of the United States Army. It features various patches and insignia that represent the soldier’s rank, unit, and accomplishments. A prominent element of the ACU is the American flag, which is an important symbol of patriotism and national identity. However, there is often confusion about the proper placement of the flag on the ACU. In this article, we provide expert guidance on the proper side to wear the flag on the ACU, ensuring that Soldiers can display the flag with pride and respect.

Understanding Flag Placement Protocol

Before delving into the specifics of flag placement on the ACU, it is important to understand the protocol and guidelines that govern the display of the American flag on military uniforms. The U.S. Flag Code, which serves as the official guide to flag etiquette, specifies that when the flag is worn on a military uniform, it should be placed on the right shoulder or sleeve. This unique placement is known as the “reverse field” or “right shoulder” flag.
The rationale behind this placement is that as a soldier marches forward, the flag appears to be blowing in the wind and moving forward as well. This symbolic representation of the movement of the flag is consistent with the principles of the U.S. Army and reinforces the idea of progress, forward movement, and the nation’s constant pursuit of freedom and justice.

Proper placement of the flag on the ACU

On the ACU, the flag is typically displayed on the right shoulder sleeve. Specifically, it is sewn to the right shoulder pocket flap with the blue field of the flag facing forward, toward the front of the uniform. The blue field containing the white stars should be positioned in the top corner, closer to the shoulder seam.

It’s important to note that the flag should be sewn on securely and with precision, ensuring that it lies flat and is not twisted or misaligned. This attention to detail reflects the respect and honor that Soldiers and the U.S. Army have for the flag and the nation it represents.

Exceptions and Special Circumstances

While the general rule is to place the flag on the right shoulder pocket flap, there are a few exceptions and special circumstances that may require a different approach. For example, when a Soldier is part of a color guard or honor guard, the flag may be worn on the left shoulder, opposite the unit patch. This placement ensures the flag remains in a prominent position during ceremonies and events.

In addition, if a Soldier is wearing a tactical vest or body armor that covers the right shoulder pocket, the flag may be placed elsewhere on the uniform. In such cases, it is important to consult unit regulations or seek guidance from superiors to determine the appropriate alternative placement that adheres to the principles of the U.S. Flag Code.

Maintaining Flag Etiquette and Respect

Proper display of the flag on the ACU is not only a matter of compliance, but also a way to show respect for the flag and the values it represents. Soldiers should ensure that the flag is clean, in good condition, and free of stains or tears. Regular inspection and maintenance of the flag at the ACU will help maintain its integrity and ensure that it continues to symbolize the nation’s ideals.
It is also important to treat the flag with the utmost respect at all times. When not in use, the flag should be properly stored, neatly folded, and kept in a clean and safe place. Soldiers should also take care to prevent the flag from touching the ground or coming into contact with other objects that may diminish its dignity and significance.

In conclusion, the proper placement of the flag on the ACU is on the right shoulder pocket flap with the blue field facing forward. Following these guidelines will ensure that Soldiers display the flag with pride, honor and respect. By understanding and adhering to flag etiquette and protocol, Soldiers can demonstrate their commitment to the nation and its values while upholding the rich traditions of the U.S. Army.


What side does the flag go on ACU?

The flag is worn on the right shoulder of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU).

Why is the flag worn on the right shoulder of the ACU?

The flag is worn on the right shoulder to simulate the flag being carried forward into battle. It is a traditional military practice.

How should the flag be oriented on the right shoulder of the ACU?

The flag should be worn with the stars facing forward, which means the flag appears as if it is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.

Are there any exceptions to the flag placement on the ACU?

Yes, there is an exception for service members who have earned the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) or Combat Medical Badge (CMB). In such cases, the flag is worn on the left shoulder.

Is there a specific regulation or guideline for flag placement on the ACU?

Yes, the specific regulation for flag placement on the ACU can be found in Army Regulation 670-1, which provides detailed guidelines for the wear and appearance of the Army uniform.

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