Special Forces Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
The gold and teal Special Forces shoulder patch, originally approved in 1955, is authorized for wear by personnel of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) and subordinate units.
Gold and seal colors are assigned to units that are at first "branch unassigned," like the Special Forces. The arrowhead shape represents the craft and stealth of the Native American Warriors who inspired the First Special Service Force and reflect the skill of the Special Forces Soldier. The upturned dagger represents the Fairbairn-Sykes knife used by British Commandos in World War II, a version of which was also used by members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Three bolts of lightning bisecting the dagger evoke the unconventional nature of Special Forces operations and represent their ability to strike or infiltrate rapidly by air, water or land.
Worn above the shoulder insignia are the Airborne and Special Forces Tab. The Airborne Tab is authorized within the Army in three colors to coordinate with those colors used in the shoulder sleeve insignia. Approval for the shoulder patch was amended in 1958 to include the black and gold Airborne Tab. The gold and teal Special Forces Tab was approved in 1983.