A gold colored metal and enamel device 1 1/8 inches (2.86 cm) in height consisting of a shield divided horizontally with three stripes, from the top, blue, white and red and centered at top a red five-pointed star and below it a black double-headed eagle with wings displayed and on its breast a red shield inscribed with gold stylized letters in three lines, R, USA and I. Attached below the shield is a gold scroll inscribed in black Cyrillic letters “ZA LUCHSHEYE BUDUSHCHEYE.”
The dominant feature of the U.S. Army Russian Institute crest is the familiar double eagle symbolizing Russian traditions and heritage, which form the basis for serious study of the USSR. The red star signifies the current regime that is of utmost and immediate concern to military students of Soviet affairs. The stylized letters in the center of the crest—USARI—represent U.S. Army Russian Institute, the accepted designation of the Institute for over a quarter of a century. All of this is superimposed on a field of red, white and blue, the American national colors to indicate U.S. Army sponsorship. The motto in Cyrillic lettering at the bottom reads “Za Luchsheye Budushcheye,” which means “For a Better Future,” a worthy goal for a truly unique military institution.
The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 18 May 1984. It was amended to correct the description on 30 July 1984.