The Chevrons are tactical identification markings. They were adopted and adapted from an Israeli system by various US Army units in the mid-1980's for local use.
During Desert Shield/Desert Storm the system was officially adopted by Southern command and directions for application issued.
The large chevron served as the Allied/Coalition vehicle marking, much as the large star did during WW2.
The shape was, in part, determined by the fact that it was to be applied using a Thermal Tape that would show up at night in tank and aircraft gun sights and, hopefully, prevent friendly fire incidents. The V-shape was considered simple and fairly soldier proof.
Sometimes the tape was outlined or "shadowed" with darker or lighter paint to ensure good visibility regardless of lighting conditions and distance.
The direction the Chevron was pointing indicated the major command. Additional stripes, shapes and numbers would bring the identification down to a specific vehicle.
Theoretically, the units would trade chevrons for subsequent operations in an attempt to fool the enemy, however, now that there are embedded reporters, it is kind of pointless.
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