My Opinion on the New Air Force Logo

This is the old logo - the "Hap Arnold Wings" Did you know that, even though everyone recognizes it and most believe it is the official USAF logo, it isn't.

And this .. er .. "thing" is the new Air Force Logo

My two cents on this idea are at the bottom of the page. Read about it and form your own opinion. More official public relations info on the logo can be found at:

Air Force News issue of 17 Feb 2000

Air Force Online News issue of 19 Jan 2000

This is the explanation of the new symbol from Air Force news. You can read the original article by Col. Ron Rand., Director of Air Force Public Affairs in the 17 Feb 2000 issue

The U.S. Air Force symbol honors the heritage of our past and represents the promise of our future. It retains the core elements of our Air Corps heritage -- the "Arnold" wings and star with circle -- and modernizes them to reflect our aerospace force of today and tomorrow. The symbol has two main parts.

In the upper half, the stylized wings represent the stripes of our strength -- the enlisted men and women of our force. They have been drawn with great angularity to emphasize our swiftness and power, and they are divided into six sections which represent our core competencies -- aerospace superiority, global attack, rapid global mobility, precision engagement, information superiority, and agile combat support.

In the lower half there are a sphere, a star and three diamonds. The sphere within the star represents the globe. It reminds us of our obligation to secure our nation's freedom with Global Vigilance, Reach and Power. The globe also reminds us of our challenge as an expeditionary force to respond rapidly to crises and to provide decisive aerospace power, worldwide.

The area surrounding the sphere takes the shape of a star. The star has many meanings. Its five points represent the components of our one force and family -- our active duty, civilians, Guard, Reserve and retirees. The star symbolizes space as the high ground of our nation's aerospace force. The rallying symbol in all our wars, the star also represents our officer corps, central to our combat leadership.

The star has been framed with three diamonds, which represent our core values -- integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

The elements come together to form one symbol that presents two powerful images -- at once it is an eagle, the emblem of our nation, and a medal, representing valor in service to our nation.

Now, My two cents ..

If you search, you'll find quite a few folks who have said this better and in more detail. The new logo is of the modern style of minimalist logotypes. Of course, the AF went and hired a corporate image firm to see if the old symbol needed to be fixed .. along with some other things. Well, the consulting firm isn't going to say 'nah, its great. leave it alone..seeya' now are they ?? (Think about it .. if the buyer of the study DID think it needed changing, the consultant better come up with some changes ... if they DIDN'T think it needed changes, nobody would have comissioned the study in the first place.)

The argument for change seems to be that the old logo is outdated, hard to read on uniform patches, etc. Well, nobody is whining about the Navy's Anchor and Rope logo, nor with the Marine Corps Globe and Anchor symbol, so that argument is dissembling and self serving on its face. (The US Army, Navy and Marines have also been around about 200 years longer than the AF and their traditions and the symbols for them are not only legend, but are based on heraldic concepts of symbology that are thousands of years old.) Let's get real, they either don't understand the symbology or don't care .. (either way gets to the same result .. change for the sake of change disguised as a "Good Thing We Need To Do") Of course, any arguments that the old symbol is doing just fine gets are labelled as rantings from the reactionary stick in the mud old time bullheaded conservative faction. Ok. So? The argument for symbology is tradition and values .. old symbols for old traditions, new symbols for new ones. You can't say you need a NEW symbol for OLD traditions. That's as stupid as it looks.

Supposedly, the Air Force needs a unifying symbol to consolidate its traditions .. and in somebody's mind, the way to solidify a tradition is to throw out the old and replace it with new. Uh.. by this logic, if I wanted to throw OUT tradtions and start over, I would KEEP everything the same? Or worse, the logic is that to solidify things, you change the symbols, AND to change things, you change the symbols? Hmm. Get the feeling that 'change the symbol' is the actual constant here? Obviously, what we have is some traditionally and symbolically illiterate high roller somewhere in Fort Fumble (the Pengagon) who has a gripe about the Hap Arnold wings. Probably a New Ager who just doesn't like art deco .. and the Hap Arnold wings are DEFINITELY 30's era (which, in case anybody is keeping score, generated some of the most long lived images and symbols of our century)

There is no point arguing that the new symbol doesnt have any more 'symbology' than the old one, since except for the 'diamonds' (two of which are trapezoids, by the way). Obviously, there is an agenda to replace the logo, at the highest levels, so it will get justified (I think i read that the AF spent 800,000 on the study and design) and done, whether or not it actually improves the sense of tradition, morale, or anything else. It's just a bureaucrat flexing to make a change to show they can.

No wonder the Air Force can't recruit or keep qualified personnel .. the management hasn't a clue and should keep in mind that appearances are not substance. As someone once said, "there is a great difference between silver and tin". One can hope that the Air Force figures this out before it's too late.


Arlington, Virginia

20 May 2000