They’re on the shoulder of all military personnel: patches that symbolize what a soldier’s unit does. But what happens if it’s top secret?
Shown here for the first time, these sixty patches reveal a secret world of military imagery and jargon, where classified projects are known by peculiar names (“Goat Suckers,” “None of Your Fucking Business,” “Tastes Like Chicken”) and illustrated with occult symbols and ridiculous cartoons. Although the actual projects represented here (such as the notorious Area 51) are classified, these patches—which are worn by military units working on classified missions—are precisely photographed, strangely hinting at a world about which little is known.
By submitting hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, the author has also assembled an extensive and readable guide to the patches included here, making this volume one of the best available surveys of the military’s black world—a $27 billion industry that has quietly grown by almost 50 percent since 9/11.
Trevor Paglen is a geographer by training, and an expert on clandestine military installations. He leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American West and is the author, with A.C. Thompson, of Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights, which The New York Times praised as “the real thing . . . and not on the evening news.”