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What’s Really Going On With Those DTOM Flags and NSW? UPDATED

In the last few days, a story has emerged in the mainstream media regarding the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community, specifically the SEAL Teams, being ordered to cease and desist wear of the Don’t Tread On Me (DTOM) patch many wear on their uniforms. Although NSW personnel have been ordered to quit wearing the patch on their left arm immediately, there is more to the story and the background isn’t what is being discussed in the mainstream. You are being told half-truths by people who don’t know what they are talking about. This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with getting the paperwork done.

AOR1 Patch 2

Roughly two years ago, East Coast-based NSW units began working with one of the manufacturers, authorized by contract to produce items in AOR1 and AOR2, to develop an Identify, Friend or Foe (IFF) patch which would incorporate the new NSW patterns and IR material. The intent was to create US Flag patches which could be worn in garrison, but incorporate the IR sheet material found in traditional IFF flag patches worn down range by all services. The intent of this was to reduce the cost associated with buying multiple types of patches and keep the uniform looking professional. In the process of working on the laser-cut US Flag patches, the manufacturer was asked if it was possible to use the same process in order to create a Don’t Tread On Me patch for personnel to wear.

AOR1 Patches

In the midst of developing the new flag patches, the Navy rolled out the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type II and III with Velcro on the shoulder pocket flaps. Ironically, there was no provision in the Navy Working Uniform Manner of Wear regulation allowing flag patches to be worn outside of tactical, training, or deployed situations. As a result, the uniform looked somewhat ridiculous with bare Velcro. Once the prototype laser-cut AOR1 and AOR2 patches were ready for evaluation, the East Coast-based NSW Group sought authorization to wear the reversed US Flag on the right shoulder and DTOM on the left because the patches were made of the same material as the uniform and looked more professional than leaving one or both shoulders bare Velcro.

DTOM - All patterns

Fast forward two years and like all things, people begin to take notice and ask, “Why are they doing that?” In this case, NSW never fully ran the issue of wearing patches in the NWU to ground and eventually someone noticed the community was not technically complying with the uniform regulations. As a result of the NWU regulations never being updated to reflect authorization to wear the patch in garrison, the cease and desist order issued by direction of Naval Special Warfare Command, is enforcing the actual uniform regulations issued by the Navy Uniform Board.

There is no conspiracy here folks; no one in the Administration is attributing the patch to extremist groups or anything of that nature as some recent stories have indicated. And for anyone who thinks that is the case, if you take a look at the bow of any US Navy ship today, tomorrow, or next week, you’ll see the Navy Jack flying which is the same flag represented by the Don’t Tread On Me patches in question. This recent issue of patch removal is just the NSW Senior Enlisted community doing what they are supposed to do, enforcing the uniform regulations until those regulations are changed or modified through the proper process. But have no fear, the order to stop wearing the patch does not apply to wear in tactical, training, or deployed environments.

Update WARCOM sent out an email that the issue has been resolved and NSW personnel may wear the Navy Jack both in CONUS as well as deployed. The decision was directed by ADM Losey and approved by the MCPON. The WARCOM clothing instruction will be updated.

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54 Responses to “What’s Really Going On With Those DTOM Flags and NSW? UPDATED”

  1. K says:

    Kinda off topic, but where can I get those patches in Multicam as pictured above?

  2. Tim M. says:

    Me want one set in multi cam too….

  3. FormerDirtDart says:

    Apparently it was Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush II that had a problem with me using 550 cord as boot laces

    • Freeman says:

      I love/hate how everyone wants to make everything political these days, like those stupid Marine hats.

  4. FormerDirtDart says:

    Oh, and:
    “…Official: Spec-ops sailors can keep wearing ‘Navy jack’…”
    http://www.navytimes.com/article/20131104/NEWS07/311040026/Official-Spec-ops-sailors-can-keep-wearing-Navy-jack-

    • SSD says:

      That is great but did you read THAT story? Read this one and then read that one and tell us which one has the story right?

  5. Jon says:

    I see (since like 2006) Navy PRT POGs wearing those patches, I didn’t realize it was a NSW thing.

    • FormerDirtDart says:

      http://www.public.navy.mil/ia/Documents/NAV10116.txt
      2. D. UNIT PATCHES: ARMY UNIT PATCHES AND THE FIRST NAVY JACK
      ?DON’T TREAD ON ME FLAG? PATCH ARE AUTHORIZED FOR WEAR AT THE DISCRETION OF THE LOCAL U.S. ARMY COMMANDER.

    • SSD says:

      Ok, you guys are confusing Apples and Oranges. The Navy Ensign can be worn down range by all Navy personnel. The East Coast teams had the flags made in AOR 1&2 once it came out of the darkness and was polarized to the NWU type 2&3. They asked to wear them in Garrison. CNSWC concurred but didn’t follow up to get the Navy uniform regs changed.

      • Mike says:

        Thank you for putting the truth out there, SSD, and for standing up against the politicization of all BS.

        Three clarifications, though:

        SSD: It’s not the “Navy Ensign” it’s the “First Navy Jack.”

        FDD: The NAVADMIN you cited applies to Navy personnel serving with Army units. Naval Special Warfare units deployed to Afghanistan don’t fall into that category, and don’t wear the ACU (see para 2 of the message).

        Jon: It’s not an NSW thing, it’s a Navy thing. Prior to 9/11, the First Navy Jack was flown on the bow of the oldest commissioned warship still in service (the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship, but isn’t still in service…). At the time, that was the USS Kitty Hawk (aircraft carrier). In recognition of our wartime status, the Navy authorized all US warships to fly the First Navy Jack from the mast at their bows. It caught on from there, and soon was flying over buildings and on patches.

        I wore that flag proudly on the sleeve of my NWUs in Afghanistan last year (not a SEAL, but deployed with them).

        And for those of you wondering, the First Navy Jack is NOT/NOT the flag the Tea Party seems to have adopted. That is the Gadsden flag; both have a rattlesnake and say “don’t tread on me.” I’m annoyed by the association of the Tea Party with the rattlesnake and DTOM – I have a First Navy Jack patch on my backpack, and people occasionally praise or condemn me for the political views they think I’m advertising. Pisses me off.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag

        • bulldog76 says:

          and the gagsden flag was the first flag of the marine corps….

        • Jon says:

          Aha! Thanks

        • FormerDirtDart says:

          Mike, I am well aware that the NAVADMIN I cited applies to Navy personnel serving with Army units.
          That is why I posted the damn thing.
          It clearly has bearing in response to Jon’s comment:
          “I see (since like 2006) Navy PRT POGs wearing those patches…”

  6. This guy says:

    I would imagine it the regulation will get worked out quick to authorize the wear of it. If nothing more due to the bad albeit wrong press on the issue.

  7. Aaron says:

    Can we get back to the 50 star Union Jack…yes the DTOM has been flown since 2001 for the GWOT under Bush’s Authorization. We have not been in a declared state of war…so, yes I’m pushing that button…because basically the GWOT will never end.

    • SubandSand says:

      The 50 star Union Jack looks like $#!7. And FYI it was flown before 2001 onboard the oldest active vessel. In 2002 SecNav said all Navy ships. The First Navy Jack is what we should have been flying all along, it’s our heritage. We’re not the wanna be water cops of the Coast Guard (just a little jibbing guys, I really do respect the work you do, even if you’re under the umbrella of the DHS). We are the water borne combat arm of this nation, lets act like it and lets show it for $#!7 sake.

      • Aaron says:

        Actually that direction came from the POTUS because of the GWOT. The First Navy Jack was reserved for actual war time…so considering the War On Terror is never ending…go back to the 50 star union jack.

        • z3ro says:

          We dont get to opt out of this war, war was declared on us.

          • SubandSand says:

            SecNav issued Instruction 10520.6 on 31 May 2002 directing all Navy vessels to change over. I forget when it’s use fell out but it’s first modern usage was when it was directed to be flown for the entire year of 1976 for the bicentennial. It wasn’t used again til 1980 when it was decided that ship with the longest active status (minus USS Constitution) would fly it starting with USS Dixie. It is a return to the Navy of when we fought for our rights and it should stay that way as a reminder of why we do what we do. And that is why it should stay and should have never leave service.

  8. Stefan S. says:

    Camp Arifjan med facility has the Navy Jack flying.

  9. dude says:

    “looked more professional than leaving one or both shoulders bare Velcro”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-snort-HAHAHAHA

  10. Dan says:

    Aahh, now, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?

  11. Sean says:

    UGH!!
    Leave it up to the Navy to screw this up AGAIN! I honestly think everyone who is authorize to ware AOR (NWU 2&3) should be authorized these patches. The Navy has mess this uniform up every single possible way it can at this point. That and our “normal” navy guys STILL cant ware the type III! This dumb but that’s not going to stop the navy.

    • SubandSand says:

      Please define “normal”, I’m a submariner and I wear the Type IIIs. Love’em lighter then the Type Is so nowhere near as uncomfortable in hot environments.

  12. lime85 says:

    Story just as important: it speaks to the times we live in that my first thought upon reading the headline was that this might be political. But I read the story, like an adult, and relaxed.

    But then again just months ago you were a tin-foil-tricorn if you thought the NSA and IRS were targeting you for your beliefs. Interesting times for sure.

  13. White Rabbit says:

    Thoughts from abroad — so take it with a lot of salt…

    “This recent issue of patch removal is just the NSW Senior Enlisted community doing what they are supposed to do, enforcing the uniform regulations until those regulations are changed or modified through the proper process.”

    I just hope, for you, that you’re correct.

    Like many in my case — someone for whom the USA was a great influence and an example — only one word can define my attitude towards today’s USA: wariness.

    Outside of your borders, the Gadsden flag and Navy Jack flag simply lost their original meaning.

    Paradoxically, within your borders, both flags never meant so much, perhaps more than in 1775.

  14. Darkstar says:

    I just think it’s odd that they cannot wear them with uniforms with Velcro on the sleeves, yet their Naval Aviators are allowed to wear it. I had 4 Navy dudes in my Joint UPT class with me and each one of them were wearing the Navy Jack. I could easily make the argument that the AOR1/2 with Velcro jackets are just the same as FDU’s.

    • SSD says:

      The difference is that the NSW community got called out about the unauthorized wear of the Navy Jack in garrison. Their chain of command rightfully decided to fix the paperwork. Until it was fixed, they wanted everyone in uniform while at home station. Nobody really cares what Naval Aviators do.

  15. Ex11A says:

    Just be glad they now have the US flag on their uniform somewhere. In Iraq in 2008, some of their folks were running around with just the Navy Jack on their uniforms. I’m sure some allies and Iraqis were wondering, “Where does Snake Flag come from? What is Snake Country?”

  16. Ken Cooper says:

    That DTOM is the first US Navy jack. If this is being worn by SeALs, then it makes perfect sense…and not a political comment at all!

  17. Adam says:

    Let’s get back to the more important aspect of this article; who made the patches! My first thought was ADS, being that they’re east coast and seemed to have authorization/permission to make anything in everything.
    I’ve tried the IR thread patched, but they just don’t show up as well as the smoother, reflective type material. This appears to be the best of both worlds.

    • SSD says:

      I could tell you who made them but they aren’t going to make them for you so it would just piss them off at me after loads of people called asking for them.

      • Mac says:

        Good to go brother. Wasn’t sure if they were going to be commercially available or not (ITAR of course). Maybe we can get the guys at PTF to knock out some…

  18. Stefan S. says:

    Wonder how we fought the Germans and Japs in WW2 without uniform Nazi’s. Could you see a 101st Paratrooper getting flayed for having rigger sewing pockets to the sleeves of his M-1942 paratrooper jumpsuit? Can’t fight a war without looking all nice and neat!

    • Riceball says:

      I think you missed the part that the regs in question only apply to NSW while in garrison, while on deployment or in training there’s no issue with wearing that particular patch.

  19. norbis says:

    These days it is so easy to believe headlines like the media was portraying this story. After all, this is a military that is more concerned with the sexual orientation of the most minor of minorities in the military than the best combat and life saving equipment… (talking about camouflaged uniforms here).

    However, in this case for NSW It’s a matter of the SOF Truths. “Know your operational environment”. Part of being in a SOF unit is you can get away with a little more in the name of “combat effectiveness and/or esprit de corps”. That comes with responsibility. Yes, I wear a baseball hat on the range, if I have to go back to post for something, I put on the proper headgear for my uniform or I put civvies on.

    Reminds me of some training I did at Fort Bragg, the NSW guys in my class would wear UDT shorts all the time when we were training and they did not need to be in a uniform. They also decided it would be funny to wear said UDT shorts to the conventional chow hall on Smoke Bomb Hill. It didnt go over well, next thing we know we are only allowed to wear “service specific duty uniforms or service specific PT gear”. Thanks guys… real funny.

    All that being said, if I knew where to buy one of those multicam IR flags I totally would. No I don’t want it bad enough to go to BUDS I like the green wool hat in my pocket. If it is one of those things that you have to earn through the NSW route they can keep it.

  20. Airdale Dave says:

    I’m glad it is not a political thing. I have a lot to complain aobut his administration, but I hate these stories of staged anti-american “policies” by the administration like the “girly” Marine hats. They don’t do anything positive and take away from the credibility of conservatives who really care about the welfare of our country.

    • orly? says:

      It seems that a “girly hat” deserves MORE controversy compared to:

      1. The issuing of a battlefield camouflage that makes it EASIER for the enemy to find you.

      2. A very, VERY flawed war.

      3. Casualties from above factors.

      No one’s ever died from a “girly hat.”

  21. DG says:

    We (Eagle Industries) have been designing and manufacturing these patches for several years. We don’t post it on the web, but will accept orders (non AOR) commercially. Please contact Customer Service at:
    636.343.7547.

  22. Zig Zag says:

    Personally I think the DTOM patches look stupid. What next, Confederate flags? How about some corporate sponsor patches for all that velcro, like Raytheon or General Dynamics?

    • SSD says:

      Lord, it’s a Navy Jack not the Gadsden flag. And even that is a military flag. The Gadsden flag was the first flag of the USMC.

    • SubandSand says:

      First learn the history behind both flags before opening your mouth or typing and second how would you like it if I pissed on your branch’s history if you ever served?

  23. Larry says:

    The history and meaning of the First Navy Jack is interesting. They had a t shirt too.

  24. Nick says:

    Honestly I would have rather the original story to be true…it coming down to some gay ass NWU uniform reg makes it worse….Big Navy is such a joke sometimes. It is noce to hear the matter is resolved now and they can still wear the patches. Now to authorize it (well at least the flag) fleet wide.