10.17.2013

The Purpose & Importance of Infrared (IR) Military Patches

Infrared (IR) patches hold an important function for the U.S. Military. IR patches help signify fellow soldiers in field, thus protecting them from friendly fire. In addition, infrared patches provide crucial information to battlefield medics and hospital staff, such as blood type.

A soldier's IR patch is an indispensable uniform accessory. During the daytime, IR patches can be seen without a visible reflective glow. However during the night, infrared patches become illuminated while being observed through night vision technology.


Purpose & Types of Military Infrared Patches

There are a number of military IR patches for different components of the military-issue uniform. The most common types are IR flags, Army unit patches, and blood type patches.

Infrared flags, or IR flag patches, serve as a type of combat identification used by soldiers. During the night, IR flags help units distinguish soldiers amidst the battlefield.

Holding a similar purpose as IR flags, infrared Army unit patches are designed to help soldiers to distinguish those who are apart of particular Army unit or division. Some examples may include the 1st Army Division IR patch or the 172nd Stryker Brigade IR patch (as shown in the image) which indicate various levels of certification training and military experience.

The final IR patch carries a very important purpose. That is the blood type IR patch. As its name denotes, the blood type IR patch tells medics the specific blood type of a fallen soldier during the dark. As one of the most critical military uniform patches in the field, the blood type IR patch holds great importance to provide adequate medical attention accordingly.


Current Events & Restrictions of IR Patches

During the initial production of IR patches, they were made available for both the military and civilians. This resulted in terrorist regimes such as the Taliban and Al-qaeda acquiring infrared patches for their own use.

Because the coalition attack aircraft were restricted from firing upon anyone wear infrared patches, these terrorist groups were able to avoid attacks from opposing forces.

As a result of this issue, the United States State Department has restricted the exportation of IR patches. Although similar versions of the IR patch have been produced and sold overseas, they are not infrared receptive through night vision gear.

Only select military surplus stores offer IR patches for sale. You can find many different military-issue IR patches to serve many different functions.

This post was contributed by Tyler Tafelsky.

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