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OCP Patch Placement: Patch Types & Combining Them With Military Uniforms

In the military, OCP patches are crucial for identification and unit affiliation. Understanding the specifics of OCP patch placement for airforce and army use are vital considerations for military decorum and uniform compliance.


In this guide, we explore OCP patch types, what they mean, and where they should be placed on different military uniforms. Whether you’re an active service member, a collector, a veteran, or an enthusiast, mastering patch placement is crucial for paying respect due to tradition and uniformity in appearance.

OCP Patch Placement: Patch Types & Combining Them With Military Uniforms

Key Takeaways

  • Operational Camouflage Pattern patches are a common feature of US Army and Air Force uniforms, signifying things like rank and unit affiliation.
  • There are specific codes for different military branches and uniforms that dictate where various patch types must go.
  • Compliance with uniform regulations is essential, so it is important that the patches adhere to the regulations and that they are properly positioned, aligned, and oriented.
  • Patch types can vary, but they are typically embroidered and attached with sew-on or iron-on methods, so it is important to practice proper application techniques.
  • Each patch carries significance for identifying purposes, so they must all be given the appropriate care and attention on every uniform.
  • We supply high-quality custom patches manufactured to the highest standards. We will accurately recreate your designs for full compliance and offer benefits like bulk discounts and more.

Where Should You Place OCP Patches On An Army Uniform?

OCP stands for Operational Camouflage Pattern, and OCP patches on military uniforms follow strict guidelines for patch placement. The goal is to offer uniformity and adherence to military standards. There are specific standards for the appearance, sizes, shapes, and positioning of military patches, and these must be adhered to.

OCP patches can include unit patches, rank patches, and identification patches. Understanding proper placement is vital for military personnel to maintain a professional appearance. Here are typical placements for different patch types:

  • Unit patches: These usually go on the left sleeve.
  • Rank patches: Placement is typically on the chest and shoulders.
  • Name and service tapes: These go on the chest and, sometimes, the back of the uniform.


These placements reflect individual identity and accomplishments and promote unity and cohesion within military units. We can create fully-compliant custom patches for military personnel, and correct placement is fundamental for overall professionalism and adherence to military dress codes.

a soldier in uniform displaying patches for OCP patch placement

What Types Of OCP Patches Are There?

OCP patches are commonplace on military uniforms for both the US Army and Air Force. Placement is important, but you should also understand that these patches come in various types. You will find unit patches, rank patches, identification patches, and morale patches. Each serves a specific purpose, representing the wearer’s assigned unit or showcasing their affiliation and history.

Rank patches display the individual’s rank within the military hierarchy. Identification patches, meanwhile, come as name tapes or service tapes, and they provide identification and recognition. Morale patches are more personalized, expressing the wearer’s identity or connection to specific teams/missions.

In most cases, OCP patches are embroidered for durability and clarity. They can be sewn onto uniforms or applied with iron-on methods, so there is flexibility in terms of application. Our custom patches can be designed in full compliance with uniform standards and ordered in bulk to leverage generous discounts.

How To Choose The Correct Military Uniform Patch And Placement

When creating custom military patch designs for uniforms, pay close attention to the regulations and guidelines provided by your military branch. The design should align very closely with the guidance for unit affiliations, ranks, or identifications to create a compliant patch.

Once the patches are delivered, proper placement is another crucial consideration for full adherence to military standards. Consult official uniform regulations for guidance on specific placements based on patch type. We recommend that you use a measuring tape or guide to determine precise placement and alignment.

Consider key factors like:

  • Distance from seams
  • Collar edges
  • Alignment with other patches

To apply your patch, follow the relevant instructions for sew-on or iron-on applications, depending on the patch type and uniform material. Sew-on patches require basic stitching skills and some precision with matching thread colors. Iron-on patches need careful alignment and adherence to the appropriate heat settings.

Ensure patches are securely attached, as they must withstand uniform wear and tear whilst maintaining a professional appearance.

Placement Of Iron-On Air Force OCP Patches

Iron-on Air Force patches placement follows very specific guidelines outlined by the Air Force Dress and Appearance Standards. This means that patches like the US flag, rank patches, and unit patches must be positioned in accordance to uniform regulations.

For example, rank patches must be positioned on the center of the chest or collar, depending on the rank and uniform type. The US flag patch is typically placed on the right shoulder, with the field of stars facing forward.

Learn how to apply iron-on patches and ensure the uniform is laid out clean and flat on a heat-resistant surface. A heat press or a household iron set to the appropriate temperature are usually optimal for the application. Make sure you deliver even pressure for optimal adhesion of the patch to the fabric.

Always be sure to refer to the latest Air Force uniform regulations and guidelines. Precise placement is essential, and the regulations give exact instructions for uniformity and compliance.

Placement Of Sewed Army OCP Patches

The placement of sewed Army OCP patches also adheres to strict guidelines, as established by Army regulations. These dictate the positioning of OCP patches like your unit and rank patches. For instance, unit patches are usually placed on the left shoulder, while rank patches are positioned on the center of the chest or the collar, depending on uniform type and rank.

When sewing on patches, select a thread color that matches the uniform and the patch to preserve the camouflage and maintain a professional appearance. The stitching should be evenly spaced and secure so that the patch has a durable attachment.


Always consult the latest Army uniform regulations and guidelines. These provide precise patch placement instructions that you must adhere to for full uniform compliance. The quality of your sewing needs to be high and correct positioning and alignment are essential for uniformity and a professional appearance.

a us air force soldier for ocp patch placement

Where Do Embroidered Patches Go On An Army Uniform?

Embroidered military uniform patch placement is dictated by specific guidelines aimed at maintaining uniformity and adherence to military standards. Military dress codes regulate the placement of various embroidered OCP patches, including unit patches, rank patches, and others.

For instance, an embroidered unit patch will usually go on the left shoulder of the uniform. Rank patches attach to the center of the chest or collar, and the US flag patch is sewn or ironed onto the right shoulder, ensuring the star field faces the front.

When you attach embroidered patches, they must be affixed to the uniform in accordance with regulations. These typically dictate the use of specific thread colors and stitching patterns that promote visibility and durability.


We can create custom tactical patches to your compliant designs, and you will get high-quality, precise recreations of your design to ensure full adherence to military regulations. With other benefits like a range of attachment methods and generous bulk discounts for large orders, we are the only service you need to create your OCP patches for placement on US Army and Air Force uniforms.

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What Are The Rules For Army Patches Placement On Uniforms?

The rules for Army OCP patch placement are outlined in military regulations. Unlike motorcycle vest patch placement, which is about traditions, patch placement in military circles serves a tactical purpose and is compulsory rather than advisory.

Here are a few rules to be mindful of:

  • Unit patches: Worn on the left shoulder, approximately ½ inch below the shoulder seam.
  • Rank patches: Placed in the center of the chest or the collar, depending on the uniform and rank.
  • US flag patches: Typically worn on the right shoulder with the star field facing forwards.
  • Skill patches: These usually have designated locations on uniform sleeves or chest pockets.

Consulting the latest military regulations is crucial before affixing patches to uniforms. Patch placement may vary between different uniforms, like combat uniform and dress uniform. And specific branch regulations, like infantry or aviation, may also have different rules. Be vigilant about the regulations and our high-quality custom patches are the perfect solution.

How To Avoid Damaging Your Military Uniform When Placing An OCP Patch On It

Following proper patch application techniques, like how to sew on military patches by hand, is important for avoiding damage during OCP patch placement. Begin by ensuring the uniform is clean and free of wrinkles. You will need a measuring tool and guidelines provided in military regulations to determine the appropriate patch placement.

  • For sew-on patches: Always use a high-quality thread. Make sure the color matches that of the patch, and sew along the edges with the correct stitching technique for a secure attachment that doesn’t pucker the fabric.
  • For iron-on patches: Carefully adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for heat settings. Apply even pressure for the appropriate duration to achieve a secure adhesion with scorching or melting the fabric.

Always aim to avoid excessive force or pressure when attaching patches in order to avoid stretching or tearing the material. Work methodically and take your time to achieve a neat, professional OCP patch placement. If you feel uncertain, seek guidance from experienced personnel or consult the relevant military regulations.

How To Make Sure Your OCP Patch Stays On Indefinitely 

The longevity of your affixed US Army or USAF patch is an area to focus on when applying your patches. Achieving a durable attachment when placing OCP patches involves several crucial steps:

  1. Ensure the patch and uniform fabric are clean and free of dust or debris.
  2. Use a strong, color-matched thread for sew on patches, and sew securely along the edges.
  3. Follow manufacturer instructions carefully when using iron-on patches to ensure the optimal heat and application time.
  4. Use a heat press or iron with consistent, even pressure over the patch to activate adhesives for a long-lasting attachment.


Iron-on patches stay on for a long time if they are applied properly. After attaching the patch, you should allow plenty of time for it to cool and set before handling the uniform. For maintenance, inspect the patch regularly and reinforce any parts that start to lift from the uniform. Take care when washing your uniform to preserve the patches for as long as possible.

Are There Different Rules For Air Force Patch Placement And US Army Patch Placement?

There are specific, separate rules for US Air Force and Army patch placement, though there will be similarities between the two sets of guidelines. For example, both branches tend to place unit patches on the left sleeve of the uniforms. However, exact positions and regulations for other types of patches may vary between the Air Force and Army, so refer to your specific guidelines every time.

There are designated uniform regulations and instructions for each branch of the military, and different uniform types within those branches. These regulations offer standardized rules for OCP patch placement, including:

  • Positioning
  • Spacing
  • Orientation


This is to achieve uniformity and professionalism across all personnel. For custom flight patches and all other military patch types, you must adhere to these guidelines for complete compliance. This demonstrates respect for tradition and discipline - key values in military service.

a female us army soldier in full camouflage gear for ocp patch placement

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What Is The Significance Of Different OCP Patch Types?

Different OCP patch types and positioning hold significance based on the branch, unit, role, achievements, and identity of the wearer.

  • Unit patches: These signify the wearer’s unit or command, helping foster a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
  • Rank insignia: This denotes the wearer’s rank within the military hierarchy, essential for organizational structure and command purposes.
  • Skill badges: These highlight specific qualifications and skills the wearer has attained, showcasing their expertise in specific areas.
  • Special patches: Including morale patches, flags, and other identifiers that convey personal or unit-specific messages and affiliations.


Each patch type has a unique significance in identifying personnel, showcasing achievements, and more. Adhering to regulations is important in the military, and we can create customized patches to specific instructions to ensure you get the optimal solution for your needs. Work with us to achieve a professional appearance and effective communication within military units and branches.

Frequently Asked Questions About OCP Patch Placement

Where Should You Place OCP Patches On A Military Uniform?

This depends on what branch of the military you are in, and whether the patch is a rank, unit, or other patch type. There are specific guidelines and regulations for patch placement in all military branches, so adhere closely to yours for full compliance.

What Types Of OCP Patches Are There?

OCP patches are usually embroidered for durability and clarity, and can be sew-on or iron-on in nature. There are patches for unit, rank, and personal identification. You can also get other tactical and morale patches for different specializations, so there are various types.

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