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TRF – What is a Tactical Recognition Flash?

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A Tactical Recognition Flash is one of the lesser known aspects of British military uniforms. Everyone knows about cap badges, and that different regiments can be identified by their badges, but not everyone is so familiar with the concept of Tactical Recognition Flashes. To put it simply a tactical recognition flash consists of a coloured patch that is worn on the arm of their combat clothing by military personnel, whether they be members of the Royal Navy, British Army, or Royal Air Force.

Why use the tactical recognition flash?

The purpose of TRF is really given away by their name. They are intended to make tactical recognition easy, to help work out who is who, and what unit each soldier is part of in a combat situation. A tactical recognition flash can be used to identify an individuals corps, or regiment if no cap badge is present. It is important to point out that TRF’s are not the same as formation signs or insignia. Those are used to indicate the formation and are worn in addition to TRF’s.

The History of TRF’s

TRF’s have a fascinating history, which reaches right back into the history of the British army. A glance at some of the many TRF’s in use in the military today will show that many of them were designed using colours derived from the units stable belt, while many of the others refer back to the origins of the unit. For example you will find swords, horseshoes, and a variety of military images from the past carried forward into today’s military uniform.

How is a TRF to be worn?

All units have a regulation place for their TRF to be worn but there is no standard location for the TRF across the military. Some units have the TRF worn on the right shoulder with the crease in the TRF matching the crease in the shirt, others on the left side, and still others on the breast pocket. If you are trying to work out where to attach one to your uniform you should always check with your unit as there are so many possibilities, you will never work it out by yourself. Generally TRF’s can be attached to the uniform by sewing or ironing them onto place. Some people have been known to try and super-glue them to their uniforms but this is not recommended. Checkout the RVOps range of TRF’s, we have plenty in stock and ready for dispatch!