Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World

03.24.08 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A whimsical collection of patches, emblems and insignia associated with classified Department of Defense programs has recently been published in a book by experimental geographer Trevor Paglen.

“Readers of this book will find a collection of images that are fragmentary, torn out of context, inconclusive, enigmatic, unreliable, quixotic, and deceptive,” the author warns. “Readers will find, in other words, a glimpse into the black world itself.”

See “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World” by Trevor Paglen, Melville House Publishing, March 2008.

“Military patches and logos–simply the latest examples of heraldry dating back thousands of years–are by definition symbolic, so it is no surprise that they contain symbols. What is surprising is that these symbols often reveal information about … missions that are otherwise classified,” wrote space historians Dwayne A. Day and Roger Guillemette in an impressive analysis of several such images. See their “Secrets and Signs” in The Space Review, January 7, 2008.

Wired’s Danger Room blog recently featured some of the “Most Awesomely Bad Military Patches.”