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.

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Military Affairs, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. michael says:

    Check your regs dude you MAY NOT be awarded the CIB unless you have been awarded the 11 or 18 series MOS, so your statement “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 batallion level or lower.” Is simply wrong.

    Mike in Iraq

  2. James Joyner says:


    I know a lot of field artillery (13-series) forward observers got CIBs in Vietnam. They may have changed the regs since then.

  3. SPC Tilley says:

    I have read 3 different articles concerning the new award. In all of them I see Calvary, Combat Engineers, Artillery and Armor. Combat arms units have got their hands full with the missions handed down in Iraq. But the Artillery soldiers are mostly supplementing the MP Corp due to the great shortage in the Army. MP’s were left out even though they have the task of convoy escorts, (which I can tell you from experience spawn plenty of firefigthts between BIAP and Taji),as well as MSR patrols and and other missions shared by the combat arms MOS’s. It does not surprise me that MP’s are overlooked, we are the stepchildren of the Army, at least that is what I have experienced as an MP with 2 deployments and almost 8 years of service. I can only hope that when the clarification come out in March that MP’s who meet the criteria may be awarded this as well.

  4. guru says:

    Artillery soldiers supplementing MP’s? hahah thats the funniest thing ive heard in awhile…which IRAQ are you in buddy, take a look at the movie that comes out in theaters on march 4, called gunner palace…it is about the 2-3 field artillery, 1st armored division, yes you heard that right, not infantry, not SF, and sure as hell not mag pie, if your gonna be a big boy and use the internet specialipps Tilley, dont say things that show your ignorance about combat arms jobs in Iraq…mp’s are cs/css right were they belong………. not in any way saying that what you did or do in Iraq isnt dangerous, or important , if your leaving the camp your doing some dangerous stuff period… question is, do you leave the camp with a mission of making it to Taji, or whereever, and back or are you leaving the camp looking for a fight, to kill or capture…ask yourself that question and youll figure out what this badge will represent, or actually just do a google search for gunner palace and watch the movie when it comes out, you may see things different…or you probably wont……

  5. An MP who was there says:

    I just heard about this new CCB today (Feb 28th, 2005), and it does not surprise me either that MP’s are being over looked. I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and my MP company was relieved by a Field Artillery Battery, that was assigned to an MP Bn. thus supplementing the MP’S. Futhermore movies are not real, movies are someone’s opinion of what is or did happen, and may have some historical fact. Even if this movie is 100% fact not every Arty Unit did the same jobs. Hell some of the Arty units did not even bring guns to Iraq.

  6. WO1 ANDRE SAENZ says:


  7. HaifaStreetMp says:

    Hey Guru, I served in Baghdad as an MP and shared the same sector and did joint patrols with the 4/27 field artillary 1st armored division. You may want to crack on the MP’s but we were there along with the artillary patrolling one of the most volatile sectors in baghdad, the Haifa street area. We were sent on specific missions to contact and destroy any insurgents in the area. We took several casualties, out of my squad of 10 MP’s we has 7 purple hearts. Contrary to what some want to believe the MP’s arent just doing convoy escorts and MSR patrols. The entire year i was in baghdad under the 18th MP brigade I never did one convoy escort or MSR patrol. The whole time I was there we were on missions and patrols with the artillary. So yes I do believe the MP corps should be eligable for the CCB. I know myself I have been shot at more times than i can count and hit with at least a dozen IED’s while there. If this doesnt meet the criteria im not quite sure what will.

  8. Paytheon says:

    The CCB has a major issue with the way the award will be delivered. Just like the CIB, the CCB is going to be MOS specific. The problem is that many infantry line units have filled their UMR positions with non-infantry related MOS’s. Such as cooks, aviation mechanics, and more. An example of this is the Oregon Army National Guard had a non-11B soldier, who’s MOS was a cook, die in combat soldiering in the same exact position as an 11B. This is typical over hear in Iraq. None of these soldiers will get to wear the CIB or CCB based on regulations…even though they served as infantry men in close combat. The military allows non-specialized soldiers to server as infantry men in combat, but will not give them the same award that their counterpart next to them receives. This is a bogus practice indeed. Either the Army stops allowing non-infantry men to serve as infantry soldiers in combat…or give them the same CIB award as their counterpart gets…whom both serverd in the same conditions and hazardous environment. How can two people be in the exact same position, fire fight, and one person gets a CIB for being in that situation; while the other, due to his not having a 11 series MOS not receive the same award. Did not both soldiers endure the same experience? How is a 11 series MOS make the one soldier eligible for the CIB while the other is not? For the 11 series MOS soldier would not have received the CIB had he not been in combat. What did the 11 series MOS have to do with this situation?

  9. James Joyner says:

    I agree with the sentiments above re: MOS specificity. My preference would be for the CCB to replace the CIB and for it to be awarded to individuals, regardless of MOS, who actually close with and destroy the enemy with small arms fire. Under the current system, an MP or cook who gets into a firefight might get a medal but no badge, whereas an 11B who is merely in the combat zone but never actually fires his weapon will certainly get a CIB.

  10. Lee says:

    First of all why does everyone care that they can’t get the CIB? If your not a infantrymen you should not get it, why should you? because your outside in a firefight, so what your MOS isn’t 11B just because your filling in, big deal you shouldn’t have picked a soft skill MOS, your a soldier thats why your filling in, your not a infantrymen. Who cares if your in a firefight and your MOS is something other then an 11 series. Your a soldier so shut up and fight and stop worrying about what your going to get. I’m a 11B, that’s my job, I do it everyday and i’m sure some of you do too, but guess what, if you want a CIB get out of your soft skill MOS and join the infantry, be a infantrymen 24/7 365 not just in iraq. It’s so funny now how everyone wants a CIB so they can look like the infantry, but back in the rear no MOS wants anything to do with them. Your a soldier first so if you have to leave your desk and go out of the wire, who cares, “you don’t want to die” your a soldier, your job is to die, just like all soldiers but some of us picked the infantry and we get the CIB, shit i’m CLS, I have patched up US and Iraqi, but I didn’t get the CMB, should I start bitching about it to anyone who will listen? How cares. Life is not fare so live with it. Now I know CAV. and MP’s do one hell of a job on raids and such and I think it’s good that they came out with the CCB, I think it sucks for the MP’s, because if all the infantry were to go down, the MOS that takes there place is guess what…MP’s. You can tell me i’m wrong, but if your infantry you better go read up. Stop bitching and do your job, your job is not your MOS, it’s soldiering, and sometimes soldiering means fighting…suck it up and drive on…

  11. SFC John P. Gibeau says:

    I spent twelve years as a member of the Special Forces, and three of that as an 18D. I have BOTH the CIB and the CMB. A mojority of my BDU’s showed my jumpwings, name rank and unit patch, and that was it. My job was not defined by what awards I had received, or how many patches/badges I could adorn myself with. (It was an expensive bit of sewing anyway.)

    Every Soldier serves a purpose, every soldier has a job, and every job is very important. I started out as 11 series. They told us in basic training that there is ONE true MOS in the Army, and that MOS is 11B. When the Balloon goes up, and the shit is at your door now, as soon as you pick up that M-16, or that SAW, or that crew served weapon, as soon as you start firing, you are an 11B. That is all there needs to be said about that. Cook, PAC, Mechanic, Pilot, Tanker, Computer Tech, Liguist, whatever, you are now fighting for your life, or even scarier, for the life of the person next to you.

    Does everybody deserve the CIB? Personally, I value my EIB more that my CIB. My CIB has two stars over the top, and getting my EIB and my EFMB were both harder. I believe that any Infantryman in theater, an F Soldier in theater, deserves the award, because no matter what happens, they are in an infinite amount more danger than the other MOS’s will ever be. Imminent danger is a stress that the non-combat arms are beginning to understand, and it is quite wearing, I believe that they are finding out.

    Should the CCB be made and awarded? Yes, I believe so, but only to those who have actually been in a firefight, regardless of their MOS (This will not be the case, but I revel in the fact that I was an operator, not a policy maker, and so this decision is not mine.)

    Recognition for a job well done is not only important in a military that is as competitive as ours is (that is one of the things that makes us so strong and versatile) but is also motivational and inspirational as well. Experience is the best teacher, and this makes you a better teacher. Less soldiers die when you learn from your experiences. A badge is not going to do anything other than serve you; Your experience is going to serve many, if you put it to the right use. There are many crappy instructors in the service. Use your experience to not be one of them, use it to be one of the better ones.

    I know that the CIB and CMB are A LOT of promotion points. I made SSG three times, (I was not always the model garrison soldier) and finally SFC before getting hurt and being boarded out. As an 18B and an 18D, this is the way of promotions in fields that have an extremely massive turnover rate – My points never went over 600.

    Go to College, take courses, get your degree. That is more points than a CIB. It is also more handy when you get out. Don’t worry about the rewards of being there. There are campaign ribbons and medals being crafted that are worth points, and a combat patch will do more about reminding you of your times there than any simple badge will ever do. That combat patch will have the burdens of lives lost, and lives saved, all for the love of the soldier next to you. Don’t worry about something else over your left breast pocket. They get expensive to sew on anyway. Instead, be thankful that you are there doing some good, pray that you do not have to personally kill anyone, and pray that you come home safe.

    Godspeed Gentlemen. Remember, no general ever did anything other than point at a map, and develop unrealistic expectations that he never could have accomlished when he was a soldier. Wars are won by YOU. Win it and come home.

    SFC John P. Gibeau
    United States Army (retired)
    1st Special Operations Command