01 Jan 2013

Military Award Proliferation: US Army Versus Communist China

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David Petraeus wore regularly a lot more awards than Dwight Eisenhower did many years ago.

Marines have long remarked humorously on the proliferation of awards, badges, and decorations worn by members of the US Army. General Petraeus’s resignation as CIA Director recently even provoked comment from left-wing commentators, like Andrew Sullivan, on the questionable taste of contemporary doggie custom.

The Marines, of course, are a lot better qualified to criticize in areas of this kind than are foreign poofter journalists who make professional careers of Dolchstoß-ing those who protect them from big bad sand monkeys who would do them harm.

I was reminded of the criticism of General Petraeus’s uniform’s collection of shiny hardware by a photo of even more heavily be-medalled Chinese officers that has been floating around on Facebook. The original was sufficiently profuse with badges that it provoked some wag to use Photoshop to multiply them, and even to extend the medals to some Chinamen’s trousers. (see below)

The legitimate, original photo of Chinese officers.

Photoshopped parody. There are medals even on the sleeves and trousers.

10 Feedbacks on "Military Award Proliferation: US Army Versus Communist China"


It’s all true except for the fact that it’s North Korean army generals (marshalls to be precise), not Chinese.


Actually the North Korean hypothesis was discussed on Facebook and cap insignia in other photos compared, resulting in the North Korea theory being rejected.

COL Goff

Couldn’t agree more – the Army is constantly changing its garb and therefore – because it takes about ten years for the changes to reach all the soldiers –is constantly horribly attired in uniforms that were designed to reflect the trends and fads of exactly on e decade past… The Marines and the Navy, and even the Air Force to some degree seem to have found a uniform the liked and stuck with it, at least since about the period of the second World War. Please note I am only talking about service dress uniforms here, not “duty” or fatigue uniforms. Indeed, the Army’s habit of dressing everyone is sloppy combat fatigues, which appear to be tailored for pregnant women, and combat boots for work in an office or professional setting is part and parcel of the Army’s overall slovenliness… But I digress – the award criteria for US Army medals these days seems to have been born of the everyone gets a trophy mentality of the Gen X/Y childhood. On a note of fairness, Ike did have far more medals and ribbons – what you see in this portrait is the old school habit of wearing only your “top three” or only awards for valor and leaving off all the rest. This is a practice officially verboten, but still alive today.

Peter S.

Speaking as a former Marine, I can say that we no longer have much of an advantage (see for example the official photo of Gen Allen, who commands all forces in Afghanistan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_R._Allen ).

Up through the first World War, the policy was to reward officers with promotions rather than medals. As the military “professionalized” or bureaucratized itself, that was no longer deemed appropriate.


You remember when Col Oliver North testified before congress he was criticized for being in uniform AND for having so many ribbons. Both are required. If you wear the dress uniform you must wear all the ribbons you have been awarded. Anyone who has been in the service knows what each ribbon means and can look at the wearers left chest area and know his military history. I am sure to some this all seems unnecessary. For what it’s worth Eisenhower was “out of uniform” by not wearing all his ribbons.


Well, Petraeus isn’t worse decorated than those chinese oficers. He just wears badges instead of metal medals what’s more colorfull and takes less place. It could more funny it soldier got new parts of armor than medals, like in RPGs.
If we wanted to be rather modest, we could replace all those medals with… the progress bar!

Paul Bowler

Eisenhower, like a number of other high-ranking Army Generals, usually only wore ribbons for his (bravery and service)awards, rather than all his campaign and foreign ribbons. On very formal occasions, however, he would wear them all. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, follows the same practice.

Peter L

Idiot, those photos are not Chinese military stuff, get things right before showing others.

David Zincavage

Two votes for North Korea.

Not Stupid

“discussed on Facebook and cap insignia in other photos compared, resulting in the North Korea theory being rejected.”

Just googling “Chinese uniforms” and “North Korea uniforms” would lead to the rejection of the theory that you guys are remotely competent.


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