Infantry Blue Cord: What It’s All About

You will see it on some soldiers when they are wearing their dress uniform…a blue cord strung around their shoulder. It is called the Infantry Blue Cord, and only soldiers of a certain distinction can wear that special blue cord.

In today’s post, we are going to look at the Infantry Blue Cord and what it is all about.

Infantry Blue Cord History

There are those moments in war when the morale of soldiers has grown low. It is understandable. Eating dog food, hmmm, I mean C-Rations. Sleeping at odd hours and always having your nerves on edge; and watching as one of your comrades gets killed or seriously injured. One of the biggest issues within the military is keeping morale high, especially in the infantry.

During the Korean War, there was a noticeable drop in the morale of infantry soldiers and officers. The Chief of Staff for the Army noticed this reduction in morale and sought a way to build morale. General “Lightning Joe” Collins had a special heart for the infantry. He, after all, had been Commander of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, and later the 25th Infantry Division.

To help morale, it was decided that all infantrymen would wear a light blue cord over their right shoulder that would signify they were infantry soldiers or officers. Also, light blue disks were to be put behind the crossed rifles that infantry soldiers also wore. The first soldiers that wore the new light blue Infantry Cords was “The Old Guard” (the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment).

There was a noticeable sense of pride in the soldiers who wore these new objects, and in 1952, the Infantry Blue Cord became standard wear for all infantry soldiers.

So Who Can Wear The Infantry Blue Cord?

While each and every Army soldier is trained in aspects of infantry, this does not mean every soldier can wear the Infantry Blue Cord. Only those soldiers who have an infantry military occupational specialty (MOS) that carries infantry specs can don the Infantry Blue Cord. This would be the MOSs of 11A, 11B and 11C, and they must be assigned to an infantry unit or in an infantry slot with a non-infantry unit. Those who hold a position of recruiter, drill sergeant or instructor but still hold an infantry MOS can also wear the Infantry Blue Cord.

There has been some confusion for Spacial Forces designation. If a soldier gets moved to an 18 series military occupational specialty, their Infantry Blue Cord must be stored away, and not wore.

While some soldiers may think this is wrong, we must remember that the Infantry Blue Cord is not an “award” per se. It is an object that designates the soldier or officer’s specialty…infantry. Special Forces troops are trained in much more than infantry, and they receive honorable wear items that other soldiers cannot wear.

When Enlisted Soldiers And Commissioned Officers Receive The Infantry Blue Cord

Commissioned Officers

When an Officer has completed the Infantry Officer Basic or Advanced Course, they will be given the Infantry Blue Cord. If during mobilization, the Officer graduates from the Infantry Officer Candidate course, he/she will be awarded the Infantry Blue Cord.

Enlisted Soldiers

Enlisted soldiers will complete Basic Training and Infantry Advanced Individual Training (AIT), they will be given the Infantry Blue Cord.

How The Infantry Blue Cord Is Worn

The Infantry Blue Cord is worn on the right shoulder of the Army Dress Green shirts (AG 415), and Army Green, Blue or White uniform coats. It is attached to the button on the shoulder loop. For Officers that do not have a shoulder loop, they will attach a 20 ligne button 1/2 inch outside the collar edge of the right shoulder seam to attach the cord.

There are no other directives on how it should be worn. Some have an idea that certain other criteria are present, but I have pointed out all the criteria here.

All of this is documented in Army Regulation 670-1.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I believe the Infantry Blue Cord is a great item. There are many who may disagree, and you have that right. As a matter of fact, I would like any and all to comment below and tell us your opinion on the Infantry Blue Cord.

I know that many infantry soldiers believe they should be able to wear their cord even if they change their MOS. I disagree, because the Infantry Blue Cord designated infantry only. If you were, but are no longer, the cord needs to be stored away for memories, but not worn for show.

Please tell me your thoughts. Thank you for visiting.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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11 thoughts on “Infantry Blue Cord: What It’s All About”

  1. I’m a veteran infantryman, and I earned the blue cord, I believe that any veteran should be able to wear the blue cord if an occasion raised for him to wear his dress greens, don’t you all agree?

  2. 11B A1/8, 1/114, 30th brigade. ‘86-96. I have an EIB, and a couple of AAMs. The Blue Cord is the most important item from my military service. If I could only keep one thing from my time in service, my blue cord would be it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it!

  3. Thank you for the read. I was proud to wear the cord serving as a detchment with 311th Military Intel. & 2/17th Cavalry, Long Range Surveillance, 101st ABN DIV having volunteered for that duty straight out of Basic/AIT/ABN & upon arrival at Ft. Campbell, allowing me to remain on jump status as a select few in the 101. And again with B Co. 1/502nd Infantry. The most interesting days of my life and the gift that never quits giving as I am still and always will be interested in the mystique of it all. I still struggle with low “sprit de corps” if you will, or depression, self-esteem etc. but have often in lifes struggles drew from the strength of the courageous young man i was and i miss that kid and love that me regardless of lifes bumpy ride in store for him. Thank you all who served and keep your head up and vigilant come what may, but for god sake get rest and go easy on yourself and the people around you and grow an admirable sphere of influence where you can. Theres too much in-fighting nowadays, and it hurts the soul. God bless.

  4. 11B, Devil Ranger, Iron Ranger – ’83 – ’93. That Blue Cord means that the bearer is duty bound to carry out the mission. Is duty bound to lead and call on others to “Follow Me”. It is a heavy load to bear – and once you’ve earned it, you can never put it down, in or out of military active duty. SEMPER PARATUS – it is not just a saying, rather it is a way of life!!

  5. 11B, D 5/16, A, HHC, C 1/16 – 83 – 93. It is not just an honor to kiss the Blue Cord, it is a brotherhood. It is a lifelong commitment to grab ground and have your brother’s six – SEMPER PARATUS!!

  6. How do you take your earned blue cord of regardless of a change of mos? As I see it, if a soldier compleates and graduates infantry training he is and infantry soldier period. Until death. Would an aviator take his wings off, or airborne take his jump wings of?

  7. Back in ancient times, there were three criteria for wearing the blue infantry cord:
    1. Serving in an infantry MOS (11B, 11C, 11D, 11F, 11H, ect.)
    2. Having been awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge
    3. Having been awarded an Expert Infantryman’s Badge.

    Criteria one also allowed for the wearing of the blue discs. Criteria two and three allowed a soldier to wear the blue cord regardless of assignment or MOS. That showed the world that that soldier had served as an Infantryman. I understand that that has changed much to detriment to Infantry Branch.

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