Saturday, October 2, 2010

Emblem of the United States Forces – Iraq (USF–I)

As US military was ceasing all combat operations in Iraq by September 1, 2010, and was preparing to move out of the country by December 31, 2011, it was logical at this point in my “Military Insignia” project to turn my undivided attention to Iraq-specific insignias. The first one on my list was the emblem of the newly-established command called United States Forces – Iraq (USF–I). Since my U.S. Central Command emblem was already completed and had its own gallery, I was able to proceed with its sub galleries, one of which would be a gallery of the USF–I. The timing was perfect.

Background: United States Forces – Iraq (USF–I) is a U.S. military sub-unified command, part of U.S. Central Command. It is stationed in Iraq as agreed with the Government of Iraq under the U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement. United States Forces – Iraq replaced the previous commands, Multi-National Force – Iraq, Multi-National Corps – Iraq and Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq from January 2010. During 2008 and 2009, all non-U.S. foreign forces withdrew from Iraq. Withdrawal of all non-US forces was complete by July 31, 2009. As of January 1, 2009, the Iraqi Government is fully responsible, through its security ministries, for maintaining and providing security and rule of law for its people. Furthermore, as of June 28, 2009, no foreign forces are stationed within any of Iraq's major cities. The United States decided after negotiations to cease combat operations, that is, patrolling, serving arrest warrants, route clearance, etc., within Iraq by September 1, 2010, and transition to a pure advise, train and assist role. The changing mission entails major troop reductions; from 115,000 on December 15, 2009, to 50,000 by September 1, 2010, and to zero by December 31, 2011.

The emblem: Technically speaking, the USF–I emblem was an almost identical version of the one of Multi-National Force – Iraq, with actual bi-lingual text being the only difference. But I have to tell you, this emblem was a serious piece of work cut out for me. See for yourself – here is the official description of the emblem:

On a black shield with a 1/8 inch (.32 cm) gold border 2 ½ inches (6.35 cm) in width and 3 inches (7.62 cm) in height overall two crossed silver scimitars points down with scarlet grips, superimposed in base by a wreath of palm in proper colors joined at the bottom with three loops of brown twine, overall a gold human-head winged bull of Mesopotamia, all below a gold seven pointed star… The star represents a vision of unity for the seven peoples of Iraq (Sunni, Shia, Kurd, Turkoman, Assyrian, Yazidi, Armenian) leading to a more secure, prosperous and free future for Iraqis. The crossed scimitars of the insignia recall the partnership between Multinational Forces and Iraqi Security Forces essential to bringing a democratic way of life to Iraq. The palm fronds symbolize peace and prosperity for a new nation. The colossal statue of the Mesopotamian human-headed winged bull recalls the rich heritage of Iraq and underscores strength and protection for the people of Iraq…

About the C.7 design: Just as I anticipated, the most challenging part of this project was recreating the Assyrian human-headed winged bull. Even though the original bulls were made of limestone, the one on the emblem, according to the official description, was supposed to be made of gold. I decided to give it an “old” gold texture and feel, which felt very appropriate for this ancient image. In addition, as usually, there were layers upon layers of details.
The sabers (or scimitars), were another interesting area to work with. Textures of the blades had to be a perfect weapons-grade steel to look believable. I couldn’t resist a temptation of adding a couple of mu own minor improvements, such as golden rim, and steel-looking lettering, but that’s just me. I manage to pull this one off almost every time, without disrupting accuracy and integrity of the original design. At least I hope that I do. Well, two days later it was over. Again, I was very pleased with the result. You can find both – the United States Forces – Iraq (USF–I) and Multi-National Force – Iraq emblems in my “Military Insignia” gallery under U.S. Central Command or here and here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Seal of The United States Marine Corps (USMC)

This was one of my favorite projects to work on. I have recreated the USMC Emblem, using my unique multi-layer method and style. 

History: The history of the Marine Corps emblem is a story related to the history of the Corps itself. The emblem of today traces its roots to the designs and ornaments of early Continental Marines as well as British Royal Marines. The emblem took its present form in 1868. Before that time many devices, ornaments, and distinguishing marks followed one another as official marks of the Corps.
In 1776, the device consisted of a "foul anchor" of silver or pewter. The foul anchor still forms a part of the emblem today. (A foul anchor is an anchor which has one or more turns of the chain around it). Changes were made in 1798, 1821, and 1824. In 1834 it was prescribed that a brass eagle be worn on the hat, the eagle to measure 3 = inches from wingtip to wingtip.
During the early years numerous distinguishing marks were prescribed, including "black cockades", "scarlet plumes," and "yellow bands and tassels." In 1859 the origin of the present color scheme for the officer's dress uniform ornaments appeared on an elaborate device of solid white metal and yellow metal. The design included a United States shield, half wreath, a bugle, and the letter "M."
In 1868, Brigadier General Commandant Jacob Zeilin appointed a board "to decide and report upon the various devices of cap ornaments of the Marine Corps." On 13 November 1868, the board turned in its report. It was approved by the Commandant four days later, and on 19 November 1868 was signed by the Secretary of the Navy.
The emblem recommended by this board consists of a globe (showing the Western Hemisphere) intersected by a foul anchor, and surmounted by a spread eagle. On the emblem itself, the device is topped by a ribbon inscribed with the Latin motto "Semper Fidelis" (Always Faithful). The uniform ornaments omit the motto ribbon.
The general design of the emblem was probably derived from the British Royal Marines' "Globe and Laurel." The globe on the U.S. Marine emblem signifies service in any part of the world. The eagle also indirectly signifies service worldwide, although this may not have been the intention of the designers in 1868. The eagle which they selected for the Marine emblem is a crested eagle, a type found all over the world. On the other hand, the eagle pictured on the great seal and the currency of the United States is the bald eagle, strictly a North American variety. The anchor, whose origin dates back to the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775, indicates the amphibious nature of Marines' duties.
On 22 June 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an Executive Order, which approved the design of an official seal for the United States Marine Corps. The new seal had been designed at the request of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.
The new seal consisted of the traditional Marine Corps emblem in bronze; however, an American bald eagle replaced the crested eagle depicted on the 1868 emblem, and is depicted with wings displayed, standing upon the western hemisphere of the terrestrial globe, and holding in his beak a scroll inscribed with the Marine Corps motto "Semper Fidelis" (Ever Faithful) with the hemisphere superimposed on a foul anchor. The seal is displayed on a scarlet background encircled with a Navy blue band edged in a gold rope rim and inscribed "Department of the Navy, United States Marine Corps" in gold letters. Coincident with the approval of this seal by the President, the emblem centered on the seal was adopted in 1955 as the official Marine Corps Emblem.

As always, the above artworks are available  via my “Military Insignia” galleries from FineArt America. You can just follow the links in the article to get to the corresponding galleries.

To active duty or reserve military personnel, veterans and their family members: I grant an explicit permission to download the above images to be used for non-profit/non-commercial and charitable causes, benefiting troops and their families, as well as for non-commercial internal duty-specific purposes, such as unit website design, training materials and presentations. 
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