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To wear or not to wear, that is the question

Graphic displaying the proper placement of patches on OCPs

This graphic was created to be used as a quick reference guide for all Peterson-Schriever Garrison Airmen and Guardians. There are distinct differences between Air Force and Space Force uniform instructions, including the use of different colored American flags and where higher headquarters patches are placed. (U.S. Space Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Alexis Christian)


In the ever changing world of Air Force Instructions and memorandums from leadership, it can be difficult to be completely confident in your uniform configuration. If you’re a Guardian or Airman who falls under the U.S. Space Force, what do you wear?

“Uniforms are distinctive,” said acting first sergeant Space Delta 2 – Space Domain Awareness Master Sgt. Timothy Tichawa. “We wear patches to signify that members belong to a unit, but in doing so they also take pride in owning their part of the unit. In my personal opinion, I think it’s a great way to be bold as we build the culture of this new service.”

If you are an Airman with no space ties, the answer is pretty simple: check the latest update to AFI 36-2903, and you are good to go. For Airmen under Peterson-Schriever Garrison or USSF Guardians, things get a little more complicated.

Some uniform expectations for Guardians have been outlined in USSF Guidance Memo 2020-36-01, but full uniform guidance is still in the works.

USSF members will:

  • Wear a full colored U.S. flag on the left sleeve.
  • Wear the higher headquarters patch below the U.S. flag on the left sleeve.
  • Wear the unit patch (if available) on the right sleeve.

Guardians are authorized to wear full color and PVC patches.

USAF members will:

  • Wear the higher headquarters patch on the left sleeve.
  • Wear a spice brown U.S. flag on the right sleeve.
  • Wear the unit patch (if available) under the flag on their right sleeve.
  • No more than two patches on the right sleeve.
  • May wear duty shields on the approved duty list, found in AFI- 36-2903.


  • May wear duty arches that are required for quick identification.
  • May wear earned and awarded patches from other services in accordance with that services regulations.

Airmen who fall under a USSF unit or higher headquarters may wear colored unit or higher headquarters patches, instead of spice brown, but colored flags are not authorized for Airmen at all. Morale patches are not currently approved for Airmen or Guardians, but it is anticipated that they may be approved in the upcoming October AFI update.

“The pride and detail that an Airman or a Guardian put into the way they present themselves speaks to their character and professionalism,” said Tichawa. “Our uniforms are the most distinctive way we are seen by the American people. The tax payers of this country expect a high level of professionalism from military members, and the easiest way we respect that is in the way we all wear our uniform.”


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