British media reports state that Special Air Service (SAS) operators were ordered to remove all Punisher patches and other similar insignias from their kits. SAS received the removal order after military VIPs visited the unit’s headquarters in Hereford, saw the skull-like emblems on troopers’ combat kits, and considered them controversial.
The rationale behind the decision appears to be the Punisher skull closely resembles the death’s head “Totenkopf” emblem of Nazi Germany’s SS. More specifically, British outlets report the British military hierarchy believes the Punisher emblem could be “be upsetting to other units and disrespectful to enemy forces.”
Just by that remark, you can tell the leadership’s level of detachment from reality on the ground. If the destruction of an enemy is disrespectful––destruction being what the Punisher insignia portrays––then something is utterly wrong. Of course, all troops must abide by the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions. But in the end, armies are mostly intended to wreak havoc, not be politically-correct organizations that strive for designations of the “most friendly” group to work alongside.
Whether accurate or not, the story highlights the deep rift between troops on the ground and their political––and sometimes higher military––leaders. Units formed, funded, trained, and kitted for close combat have one primary mission: to engage with the enemy and destroy it.