As the Military Police Corps grew to more than 200,000 during World War II, so did the need for brassards. A defense seamstress shows a few of the brassards she made for the war effort.
The brassard, the ever-present symbol of the military police Soldier, has gone through many changes.
A symbol for instant recognition, the brassard (armband), comes from the French term for medieval armor.
"Officers and enlisted men, when actually performing the duty of military police, will wear a blue brassard on the left arm, half way between the elbow and shoulder, bearing the letters 'MP' in white."
Wearing the brassard on duty gave Soldiers a symbol of authority.
"Members of the MP, when actually performing the duties of military police, will wear a blue brassard on the left arm, halfway between the elbow and shoulder, with the letters 'MP' in red." (2)
Unlike the military police of the time, Soldiers in the Criminal Investigation Division were not to wear the brassard unless specifically ordered.
The Chief of Chemical intends for the CBRN brassard to serve as a means to immediately identify CBRN Soldiers who are actively providing specialized technical expertise during emergencies or CBRN-speeific training or operations.
For example, the CBRN brassard may be worn for local ceremonies when appropriate.
The military police brassard can be traced back to the early 1900s; and although the brassard has changed in shape and color throughout the years, its intended purpose has not.
According to Sergeant First Class Jeff Myhre, Program Executive Office Soldier product manager for Soldier clothing and individual equipment, "The Army really wants to create an atmosphere where everyone is a Soldier first and their military specialty second." (2) I mention this to emphasize that the military police brassard is not a military occupational specialty (MOS) badge and should not be treated as such.
Commanders: You have the authority to determine whether your Soldiers wear the military police brassard. Its integrity and the preservation of a long-standing tradition are on your shoulders.
The average citizen who sees a Soldier wearing the military police brassard assumes that something went wrong and that there is an authority figure present to handle it.
Furthermore, the wearing of the brassard under unapproved circumstances makes us appear arrogant and unprofessional.
Interestingly, he was wearing his military police brassard and, per his directive, so was everyone who worked for him.