Monday, July 2, 2012

Task Force ODIN: Commander’s Coin of Excellence

In the beginning of June 2012, I was once again contacted by my friends from US Army Military Intelligence Task Force ODIN, currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of operation Enduring Freedom.  Just to remind, name is an acronym for Observe, Detect, Identify, and Neutralize. Initially, it was a United States Army aviation battalion created in August 2006 to conduct reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) operations to combat insurgent operators of improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

The unit was formed at Fort Hood, Texas, and first deployed in October 2006. At the time, TF ODIN was the Army's only unit, which flew MQ-1C Warrior UAVs. Since then, TF Odin has substantially increased in size. Apparently, this new TF Odin [Enhanced] found themselves in need for a new challenge coin. This time it was supposed to be a Commander’s Coin of Excellence. And since they liked the first coin I helped to create, they got back to me with the task of designing the second one, which I gladly accepted.  The thing is, even though it is fairly time-consuming and rigorous task, I love working on those coins. I have to admit, they are a lot of fun to work with…
Just to recap - a challenge coin is a small coin or medallion (usually military), bearing an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s members. They are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. Such coins can also be awarded for excellence. In addition, they are also collected by service members.

This time, the guys knew exactly what they wanted, and I was presented with the full-blown concept. It was based on the original TF Odin emblem on the front and several units’ insignia along with Afghan coat of arms on the back.

However, one obvious problem has presented itself almost immediately.  The back of the coin was not an issue, since it was very similar to the one I designed for them earlier. But the front… This was a full-scale disaster. The original TF Odin emblem resembled a very dark watercolor painting, pretty much a black-greyish blob of Odin on a horseback, accompanied by a pack of wolves, with menacing red-glowing eyes. Not that anything was particularly wrong with it. It’s just that it was almost impossible to implement by using my M-LETT 3D method. The solution was although unfortunate, yet pretty obvious – to completely re-design the entire front of the coin, while staying true to the original concept. The good thing about it was the fact that I was able to give Odin the same appearance as I gave the one from my first coin, hence achieve certain continuity and consistency in the series.  This was a true labor of love, with a few minor back-and -force revisions, but overall my design was accepted pretty much instantly, and here is the final result…