Guidon (United States)

Guidon (United States)

In the United States Army, Marines, and Air Force, a guidon is a military standard that company or platoon-sized elements carry to signify their unit designation and corps affiliation. A basic guidon can be rectangular, but sometimes has a triangular portion removed from the fly (known as "swallow-tailed")



As described in Army Regulation 840-10, Chapter 6, US Army guidons are swallow-tailed marker flags in branch-of-service colors, measuring 20 in. at the hoist by 27 in. at the fly, with the swallow-tail end forked 10 in. Previously guidons were made of wool bunting, and if serviceable these older versions may still be used. Current guidons are made of heavyweight rayon banner cloth. Old guidons show letters and numerals reversed as if printed through on the reverse of the guidon. Current guidons are made so that letters and numerals read correctly on both sides.

In general, the following Army units are entitled to guidons: lettered companies, troops and batteries of regiments and separate battalions; separate numbered TO&E companies; and headquarters elements of groups, brigades, divisions, corps, commands, schools and similar organizations.

Lettered companies (troops and batteries in the cavalry and field artillery respectively) of battalions (squadrons in the cavalry) have guidons displaying the branch insignia, the company letter, and the battalion and regimental numbers. The base color of the guidon is the first named color of the applicable branch, e.g. scarlet for field artillery, with the letters, numerals and insignia applied in the second named color of the branch, e.g. yellow for field artillery. For companies of separate battalions, the branch insignia is centered on the guidon between the battalion number above and the company letter below. For companies of battalions of regiments, the number above the insignia is that of the regiment; the number of the battalion is vertically centered between the insignia and the hoist.

Separate numbered TO&E companies have guidons with their numerical designation under the branch insignia, e.g. the guidon of the 380th Quartermaster Company is buff with the insignia of the Quartermaster Corps over the numerals “380” in ultramarine blue, these being the named colors of the branch. Headquarters companies of groups, brigades, divisions and corps have guidons of a design corresponding to that of their Organizational Flag, e.g. the guidon of a headquarters battery of a Field Artillery Brigade or Fires Brigade would be vertically divided, scarlet and yellow, with the brigade's shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI) centered.

Headquarters elements of Army commands, agencies, garrisons, centers, schools, depots and miscellaneous organizations are authorized guidons of distinctive design and colors. Generally these guidons follow the design of the unit’s Organizational Flag. Various units not oriented to a specific branch, e.g. US Army Garrisons, have a teal blue guidon with the branch immaterial insignia (the Coat of Arms of the U.S. within a ring) in yellow.

Exceptions to the use of branch colors for guidons are found in the infantry and cavalry. The infantry branch colors are light blue and white, but infantry guidons have a field of Old Glory blue (the same shade of blue as used for the canton of the US national flag). The cavalry branch colors are yellow and dark blue. Cavalry guidons, however, are horizontally divided, scarlet over white, with troop letters and squadron/regimental numbers in white and scarlet, but no branch insignia.

There are two types of guidons used by the US Corps of Cadets (West Point). “Dress” guidons are horizontally divided, golden yellow over silver gray, with the letters “USCC” centered between the regimental number on the upper stripe and the company letter on the lower stripe. “Field” guidons have the regimental number only. All letters and numerals are black.

Any unit citation, war service or campaign streamer may be attached to guidons. Guidon-bearing elements of US Army Regimental System units are entitled to display all streamers awarded to the regiment, with those earned by its own higher echelon (batttalion or squadron) denoted by the addition of the Earned Honor Device, an emproidered laurel wreath, at the fly. Streamers for guidons are 1 3/8 in. at the hoist by 2 ft. on the fly.

In recent years the ongoing reorganization of the Army has led to the creation of new types of units, e.g. Sustainment Brigades and Fires Brigades, but generally their flags and guidons are of the pattern described above.


A Marine guidon is always rectangular, 22 by 28 inches, with a scarlet field and gold lettering, and an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor centered. [ Citation
title = Flag Manual
journal = MCO P10520.3B
date = 15 Sep
year = 1989
url =$FILE/MCO%20P10520.3B.pdf
] [ cite web
last = McMillan
first = Joseph
title = Flags of the U.S. Marine C
publisher = Seaflags
date = 2001
url =
accessdate = 2008-01-10

Fleet Marine Forces units have "FMF" emblazoned above the EGA, non infantry and artillery reserve units display "USMCR," while all infantry, artillery, and active units carry a "USMC." The regimental level numeral will be displayed in the lower left corner, unless a higher or lower command numeral provides better identification (for example, a battalion HQ company would display the battalion's numeral instead of the regiment). The company level designation letter, abbreviated title, or number will be in the lower right corner.

No additional attachments are authorized, including streamers, bands, or the like. Some units incorporate additional mascots into unofficial guidons.

Air Force

In the Air Force, guidons are ultramarine blue wool and nylon, nylon, or polyester bunting, swallow-tailed, 1 foot 8 inches tall by 2 feet 3 inches wide to end of the swallowtail, and forked 10 inches. An Air Force yellow American Eagle design appears on the front of the guidon and on the reverse side as if printed through. Above the design is the designation of the parent unit; below it is the designation of the squadron. When the number of the squadron and the parent organization are the same, the lower line indicates only the alphabetical portion of the squadron designation. Numerals and lettering are yellow, from 1 3/4 to 3-1/2 inches tall, and in varying widths. Lettering and numerals appear on both sides of the guidon, reading from left to right on both sides. [ [ Air Force Instruction 84-105] , Organizational Lineage, Honors and Heraldry, 1 FEBRUARY 2006, Incorporating Change 1, 13 May 2008]

Campaign and service streamers earned by a unit are displayed on that units flag or guidon.


The significance of the guidon is that it represents the leader of the unit. When the commander is in, his guidon is displayed for everyone to see. When he leaves for the day, the guidon is taken down. It is an honor, although sometimes a dubious one, to be the guidon carrier for a unit. Sometimes he is simply called "guidon", because of this. He stands in front of the unit alongside of the commander (or the commander's representative, such as the first sergeant), and is the rallying point for troops to fall into formation when the order is given. In drill and ceremonies the guidon and commander are always in front of the formation.

The guidon is a great source of pride for the unit, and several military traditions have developed around it, stemming back from ancient times. Should the guidon holder drop the guidon, he must fall with it and perform punishment in the form of push-ups. Other units may attempt to steal the guidon to demoralize or antagonize the unit. Veteran soldiers know not to give up the guidon to anyone outside their unit, but new recruits may be tempted by the Sergeant Major into relinquishing it, especially during a battalion run.

Initial entry training platoons carry colored guidons to signify what phase of training they have attained. The guidon bearer normally stands with the platoon guide when stationary and marches at the head of the column. Although IET guidons may have streamers attached, they are typically undecorated.

ee also

*Colours, standards and guidons
*Flags of the United States armed forces


External links

* [ US Army Institute of Heraldry: Flags and Guidons]
* [ AR 840-10, Flags, Guidons, Streamers, Tabards, and Automobile and Aircraft Plates, 1 November 1998]

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