eli5: Why are military ranks worn on the chest in most combat uniforms?


Okay, as someone who likes to look at combat uniforms, I wonder, why are ranks worn on the chest in most combat uniform designs?

In: 3

Where else would you put them?

In the US at least, it was the Army that started this trend.

In the BDU era everyone wore the same combat uniform, and everyone wore their rank on their collars (except the USAF, they used their sleeves).

Then in the 2000s everyone started adopting new uniforms, and for the most part everyone kept their rank in the same place.

Except the Army with the ACU, they couldn’t really keep their rank on their collar because they wanted the option to be able to wear it mandarin style (which in practice, nobody ever did and that feature has since then been deleted).

They couldn’t use the sleeves like the USAF, because the Army likes to wear unit patches there.

They were already slapping velcro on the front of the uniform for branch/name tapes, so it probably just made sense to put the rank there.

Then the USAF (and later Space Force) adopted the Army ACU because Congress would have thrown a fit if they adopted a new uniform. The Navy also eventually moved the location of their rank to the chest, but I’m not sure why.

Tldr; in the US it was likely just the most sensible option at the time.

They used to be sewn on the sleeves. Removing stitching for promotions, etc. was/is a pain in the ass. So, you put an epaulet on the front with your rank insignia, or a velcro patch, and job done.