Vigilant Citizen – June 20, 2011
Mission patches are used by military and space organizations to identify, symbolize and describe a mission’s objectives and its crew. This tradition is also observed in the shady world of PSYOPS where each secret mission of the Pentagon gets its patch. These patches offer a rare glimpse into the Pentagon’s secret operations and the symbolism on them is rather striking: ominous and cryptic phrases, dark occult symbolism, references to secret societies, and sometimes even a rather dark sense of humor. Here’s the top 10 most sinister PSYOPS patches.
In 1965, NASA began using cloth patches to identify each of its missions and to symbolize the missions’ objectives and their crew. Each rocket launch has therefore a patch designed by crew members and in collaboration with the official design team. The patches are then proudly displayed on equipment and worn by NASA astronauts and other personnel affiliated with a particular manned or unmanned space mission.
Since then, other organizations involved in space travel and secret operations began using mission patches, including those that specialize in PSYOPS (psychological warfare): the CIA, the Department of Defense and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). What does space travel have to do with psychological warfare? Spy satellites. Since 1960, the NRO (whose existence was only declassified in 1992) has launched dozens of secret spy satellites into space, collecting an incredible amount of information on the United States’ friends, enemies and citizens.
As it is nearly impossible to obtain information regarding these highly classified endeavours, mission patches offer a rare glimpse into the world of PSYOPS. Even if one is not well-versed in symbolism, it is easy to perceive a sinister “vibe” emanating from the patch designs. Laced with strange symbols, ominous creatures, obscure Latin phrases and even dark humor, these patches reflect the mindstate of those wearing the patches.
The trailblazer in this area of research is Trevor Paglen, who, in 2008, published the book “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World”. By the means of hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, he obtained and analyzed forty mission patches. From the book reviews:
“The iconography of the United States military. Not the mainstream military, with its bars and ribbons and medals, but the secret or ‘black projects’ world, which may or may not involve contacting aliens, building undetectable spy aircraft, and experimenting with explosives that could make atomic bombs look like firecrackers. Here, mysterious characters and cryptic symbols hint at intrigue much deeper than rank, company, and unit.”
“Of course, issuing patches for a covert operation sounds like a joke … but truth be told, these days everything is branded. Military symbols are frequently replete with heraldic imagery—some rooted in history, others based on contemporary popular arts that feature comic characters—but these enigmatic dark-op images, in some cases probably designed by the participants themselves, are more personal, and also more disturbing, than most.”
—Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review
Since the release of this book, new mission patches have been released that are as strange and cryptic as their predecessors. If these patches are meant to symbolize “the values of the crew and the objectives of the mission”, perhaps we should be a little concerned. Here are the top 10 most sinister mission patches: