The Army is refuting a memo shared on Reddit that appeared to indicate that most soldiers deployed to the Middle East could wear Shoulder Sleeve Insignia for Military Operations in Hostile Conditions, or SSI-MOHC – also known as combat patches.

“The March 28, 2024, memo that is circulating online is not valid and does not authorize the wear of SSI-MOHC,” Army spokesman Bryce Dubee told Task & Purpose on Monday. “The appropriate decision authorities are considering ways to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of our teammates in the CENTCOM AOR [U.S. Central Command area of responsibility] during this period of heightened tension.”

The memo is purportedly from Army Lt Gen. Douglas Stitt, deputy chief of staff, G-1. It says that Stitt has approved an exception to policy so that soldiers on temporary duty or permanently assigned to several countries in the Middle East are no longer required to receive Imminent Danger Pay or Hostile Fire Pay to wear combat patches.

Stitt’s move supposedly affected soldiers who have deployed to Iraq, Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates between Oct. 7, 2023 and April 6, 2024.

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Since Hamas launched its Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, the Defense Department has dispatched troops, ships, and aircraft in the Middle East to try to prevent the conflict from escalating into a regional war.

Earlier in April, the Army, Navy, and Air Force destroyed more than 80 drones and at least six ballistic missiles fired at Israel from Iran and its proxies in the region.

The memo was shared on the unofficial r/Army subreddit on April 26, but a moderator noted in the comment section that it was not valid.

Army officials declined to answer questions on Monday about whether the memo was in draft form, or if Army leaders were considering allowing soldiers in the Middle East to wear combat patches even if they were not receiving the required combat pay.

For many soldiers, getting combat patches is a rite of passage. The patches signify that soldiers have served on a designated combat deployment, and they are worn on soldiers’ right arms, underneath the American flag. Soldiers receive their combat patches at a ceremony.

Many of the top generals during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars wore combat patches on their camouflage uniforms. Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, former chief of staff, wore the 4th Infantry Division patch on his right shoulder. He led the division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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