ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 18, 2017 — Those assigned to the National Guard Bureau are now authorized to wear a new organizational badge that highlights the history of the NGB, officials announced recently.
“It’s an emblem to build spirit and reinforce organizational identification,” said Army Lt. Col. Jeff Larrabee, chief historian with the NGB and a principal adviser during the development of the National Guard Bureau Organizational Badge. “Because we are complicated and spread out across the ground, people don’t always understand that we are one organization.”
The badge was officially unveiled by Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, during celebrations at the Pentagon of the National Guard’s 381st birthday, Dec. 13. Designed to be worn on the dress uniform, the badge is authorized for wear only while assigned to the NGB, irrespective of the individual’s duty location.
“The badge is not going to be permanently awarded,” Larrabee said. “As a temporary badge, it is equivalent to a joint command badge or an Air Force temporary duty badge.”
A lapel version of the badge will also be available for wear on civilian clothing.
The badge features the eagle insignia from the NGB seal overlaid on two blue stars representing the Army and Air National Guard. The year 1636 is inscribed on the top of the badge, referring to the year the Guard was established. These features are encircled by 54 chain links representing each state, territory and the District of Columbia that make up the Guard.
The badge design, Larrabee said, recognizes the NGB’s “long history and significant mission” and acknowledges the organization’s role as a “headquarters-like element.”
“We don’t have any war streamers or participate in campaigns,” said Larrabee, referring to the NGB. “But, [the bureau] has played an important role in mobilizing or preparing the Guard for its wartime missions, which was why the bureau was established.”
The badge itself has a long history and was first proposed close to 70 years ago.
“The bureau tried to get a badge authorized in 1949, after the Air Force was created as a separate service [in 1947],” Larrabee said.
That post-World War II reorganization created separate Army and Air divisions within the NGB and established it as a bureau of the Army and an agency of the Air Force overseen by the chief of the NGB.
“We were a joint organization that tried to reflect that joint aspect,” said Larrabee, of the reasons for the proposed 1949 badge. “It was not approved at that time, and it looked very similar to the Army Staff Identification Badge.”
Today, the bureau operates as a joint activity of the Defense Department, a change that came in 2008 and saw the chief of the NGB elevated to a four-star general and given additional authority. With the expanded role of the NGB and its chief, Larrabee said the time was right to create a new badge that reflects the NGB’s history.
That also meant looking to the past for the design, he said, adding that parts of the new badge come directly from the proposed 1949 design.
“So we are perpetuating a design element that was thought of more than 60 years ago,” Larabee said. “We don’t dismiss the past, even with something like this.”
He stressed that the badge also carries on the same intent as the 1949 design to reinforce unit integrity among personnel assigned to the NGB.
“The purpose of a badge, like all heraldry, is to create a sense of organizational identity and to foster esprit de corps and pride in the organization,” Larabee said.