Army Creates Close Combat Badge
Army creates badge for non-infantry soldiers who participate in combat (Stars & Stripes)
After 60 years of debate, Army officials have finally decided to create a badge for non-infantry soldiers that recognizes their direct participation in ground combat. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker presented the new Close Combat Badge, or CCB, to a cadre of senior officers Friday, during a regularly scheduled meeting of four-star Army generals, according to Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army personnel spokesman. The new badge will be the equivalent of the Army’s Combat Infantry Badge, which was created in 1943. The CIB, in the form of a rifle surrounded by a wreath, is reserved for infantry and Special Forces soldiers only.
The Close Combat Badge will be awarded to soldiers with military occupational specialties in armor, the cavalry, combat engineering, and field artillery. Officers must have a branch or specialty recognized in Army regulations as “having a high probability to routinely engage in direct combat.” The CCB will be presented only to soldiers who are engaged in active ground combat, moving to contact and destroy the enemy with direct fire.
The Army has periodically reviewed the criteria for the Combat Infantry Badge, but it wasn’t until the conventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned into insurgencies that the non-infantry soldiers’ point of view gained increased momentum. So, at the request of commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, last year Schoomaker approved the creation of a task force to look at creating a new combat badge to widen the pool of soldiers recognized for their actions under fire, Hilferty said.
More details about the new Close Combat Badge, including its design and the procedure for soldiers to request the award, will be unveiled later this week, Hilferty said.
This is an interesting development that is indeed rather long in coming. It was always possible for non-infantry personnel to get a Combat Infantry Badge, so long as they participated in direct combat with an infantry unit at battalion level or lower. The parallel Combat Medic Badge was also available for medics assigned to infantry and Special Forces units.
I would argue, however, that the creation of a third badge is the wrong approach. If the Army is now going to recognize, as its doctrine has for a generation, that the idea of “front lines” is outmoded, then in makes no sense to differentiate between soldiers serving in close combat. Indeed, the CIB has become tainted in the post-Vietnam period, with 11B soldiers who never fired a shot, let alone had one fired at them, getting a CIB simply because they were in theater.
The solution would be to eliminate the CIB and CMB entirely, replacing it with the CCB for all soldiers regardless of MOS and then awarding it based on actual participation in direct combat with the enemy rather than simply being in theater while assigned to a particular unit type. Doing this would both remove the perception that CCB recipients are second-class soldiers while simultaneously restoring the luster of a once-hallowed award.
via Jeff Quinton.
UPDATE: This award was actually canceled in May 2005 and replaced with a “Combat Action Badge.”
Although the Close Combat Badge was once considered an option, Army leadership created the CAB instead to recognize all Soldiers who are in combat. They said the decision was based on input from leaders and Soldiers in the field.
“Warfare is still a human endeavor,” said Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff. “Our intent is to recognize Soldiers who demonstrate and live the Warrior Ethos.”
The CAB may be awarded to any Soldier, branch and military occupational specialty immaterial, performing assigned duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized, who is personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement.
Commanders at the rank of major general will have award authority the CAB.
The CAB is distinct from other combat badges, officials said. The Combat Infantryman’s Badge, or CIB, and Combat Medical Badge will remain unchanged, they said.