I realized that after a lot of discussions about the Navy SEALs, we haven’t really talked about the military badge that distinguishes them from other branches of the US Armed Forces. Although we can talk about how we can tell if a Navy SEAL is for real or for reel, there is only one visible sign that can help us distinguish them from other officers – the Navy SEAL Trident.
The Department of Navy authorized the use of this badge on the SEALs’ service uniforms in 1970. Normally found on the left breast of the uniform above service ribbons and other decorations, the insignia comes as a gold metal pin for dress uniforms or as an embroidered patch on camouflage uniforms.
The Navy SEALs receive this Special Warfare insignia after successfully completing the Navy’s Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training and SEAL Qualification Training. Although there are no standing laws that prohibit the wearing of the insignia by civilians, several veteran groups monitor the proper use of the Navy SEAL Trident, making sure that no one wears it without proper authorization and keeping it from being abused by impostors seeking to advance their personal interests.
The parts of the Special Warfare insignia symbolize the three areas where the Navy SEALs excel in — the sea, the air and the land. Although the US Navy SEALs are a part of the US Navy, they have been trained to do special missions conducted in any environment. The anchor and the trident represent the sea, the eagle represents the air, and the pistol represents the land. The wings of the eagle are spread wide while the pistol is cocked. The former symbolizes the courage and strength of Navy SEALs and the latter symbolizes their constant readiness.