Naval_Jack_of_the_United_StatesThat’s the message from an unnamed command master chief to SEALs in the field:

DALLAS, November 4, 2013 – Former Navy Seal Carl Higbie claims a senior enlisted advisor has banned “Don’t Tread On Me” uniform patches for active-duty operators. Per Higbie’s Daily Caller column, an email circulated on October 22 advising personnel to wear only an American flag patch on their right shoulder. The correspondence was forwarded to him by multiple active SEALs.

“You are no longer authorized to wear the “Don’t Tread On Me” patch. Again the only patch authorized for wear is the American flag on the right shoulder. Please pass the word to all,” the email reportedly said. The Navy Jack is a very popular symbol among SEALs, Marines and Navy personnel, including but not limited to conservatives, constitutionalists and libertarians.

The flag features a rattlesnake and the words “Don’t Tread On Me,” against 13 red and white horizontal stripes. Continental marines carried the message into battle against the British for its symbolism of resistance. Since 2002, all U.S. Navy ships began flying the First Navy Jack in place of the Union Jack for “the duration of the global war on terrorism”.

Higbie warns this move highlights the growing breach between lower ranks and “yes-men” of the top brass which threatens military cohesion. He believes the Obama administration is waging war on the Navy’s heritage in pursuit of political correctness, and complicit leaders embrace this agenda for career health.

“Why would our leaders sell out our heritage? Why would they rob present and future sailors of our battle cry? When a friend of mine asked his leadership the same question, he was told, “The Jack is too closely associated with radical groups. We must assume that this thought policeman embedded in the SEAL community is speaking of the Tea Party, whose flag (which also dates from the American Revolution) depicts a snake with the same defiant slogan as The Navy Jack.”

The “Don’t Tread on Me” phrase is also present on the bright yellow Gadsden flag, which is used by the Tea Party, constitutionalists, civil libertarians and limited-government proponents.

via ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ patches allegedly banned from Navy SEAL uniforms | Washington Times Communities.

Some people are seeing this as a political message. We’re inclined to think otherwise. When dealing with an E9 of any service, sometimes picayune adherence to uniform regulations is mere picayune adherence to uniform regs. That’s the side of the bet the house has its money on.

Also, until our Plan To Save The Army™ by requiring all sergeants major to have at least an average IQ is implemented, remember that when we say half of all senior enlisted advisors are below average, we could be talking relative to the whole damn world. When a senior NCO does something that seems inexplicably stupid, sometimes a brief conversation with the NCO in question is all it takes to move that action into the explicably stupid category.

This entry was posted in Don’t be THAT guy, Lord Love a Duck, Unconventional Warfare on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

7 thoughts on “OK, tread on me.


5 x 5.

It should be tattooed on all servicemembers’ hands:

“Rank does not equal intelligence, but the superior is almost always right.”

Besides, it’s kinda cool that there’s a patch Navy Seals can’t have that civilians can, and it’s good for their egos.


Personally, I think the message is exactly political, and is of a piece with the IRS harassment of conservative groups. If any message conveys the resentment of intrusive big government, the resentment of the Utkaz from afar, it’s “don’t tread on me.” Fine, we’ll make it “don’t tread on my health insurance.” I note that TriCare is experiencing reductions, but capitol hill is still rolling in low-cost high-service HI.


This was clarified with senior NSW leadership in the last few weeks. DTOM flags are authorized. One open source that explains it:

Hognose Post author

Thanks. That’s actually an excellent explanation, to include the extended discussion in the comments.

We still think a GT score test for E9s would weed out a lot of the chaff, but maybe the Navy is smarter than our Army experience.


US Armed forces actually recruit people of below average intelligence? Isn’t that risky?


At your leisure, Google “MacNamara’s 100,000”.

Try to remember as you read about it that this was from one of Kennedy’s “Best & Brightest”, in his case a former Ford executive who gave the world the pinnacle of automotive engineering known as the Edsel, went on as SecDef to determine that the war in Vietnam could be won primarily by interdicting the Ho Chi Minh trail using B-52 bombers, came up with project 100,000, adopted the original M-16, forced the Navy and USAF to share the F-111, hollowed out our forces in Europe at the height of the Cold War, and then left DoD after that unfortunate 1968 Tet thingie, to go on to become head of the World Bank, just in time to trigger several worldwide financial crises by overlending to impoverished countries of the Third World. (We tried this last trick at home as recently as 2007. Perhaps you remember how that turned out.)

This is a SecDef who should have the sunken hulk of the carrier Independence (CVL-22) nuked at the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests renamed after him, to properly commemorate his tenure at the helm of our national defense.


Overconfident smart people are a catastrophe. McNamara applied business methods to war, which is .. well bullshit. War is not a science, it’s more of an art or a craft.

The problem with such people is that they think they have it all figured out ..

However, considering the correlation between intelligence and criminality, it’s one of the least bad things McNamara did. Modern society must be a confusing hell for those who can barely read.

Every huckster and scammer is out for their money, they can only hold dead-end jobs of which there’s less and less ..