How to Identify Branches of Military Uniforms

Marine corps uniforms have a distinct red stripe and gold buttons.

The U.S. military is divided into four branches: the army, navy, marine corps and air force. Each of the four branches has its own distinct uniform. While some of these uniforms may appear similar to those in other branches they really are not when the uniform is closely considered. If one pays attention to the subtle differences it will aid in revealing which military branch the person wearing the uniform belongs to and what their rank is.

1 Uniform Color

2 Compare camouflage uniforms

Compare camouflage uniforms. For example, Army uniforms are green, beige and brown camouflage. Navy uniforms, on the other hand, are blue and gray camouflage.

3 Look for distinctive color accents

Look for distinctive color accents. For example, while the dress uniforms of both the Marine Corps and the Air Force are dark blue, the legs of the Marine Corps trousers sport a "blood stripe" of red. This stripe that runs down the leg honors the memory of the fallen.

4 Check

Check for the distinct gold buttons of the Marine Corps uniform, they feature an image of the eagle and anchor on them.

5 Take note of the footwear

Take note of the footwear. Army and air force boots are brown, while navy boots are black.

6 Other Distinctive Features

7 Check for logos

Check for logos. For example, army service members wear a patch above the heart that reads, "U.S. Army." Similarly, Navy uniforms have "U.S. Navy" stitched into them in the same location.

8 Look up

Look up, specifically, at the hat. Army and Navy caps show their respective logos, while Marine Corps hats are white with black brims. Air Force uniforms do not necessarily include hats.

9 Look around the neck

Look around the neck. Unlike the uniforms of other branches, Air Force uniforms include neckties. Marine Corps uniforms include high collars, which hearken back to the uniforms of the first Marines.

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.