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Combat Action Badge
Combat Action Badge.svg
Awarded by United States Army
Type Badge
Eligibility Serving with a U.S. Army Unit
Awarded for Active engagement or being engaged by the enemy after September 18, 2001
Status Currently awarded
Established May 2, 2005
First awarded June 29, 2005
Last awarded On going
68,686 in OIF (as of June 26, 2012)
37,914 in OEF (as of June 26, 2012)
3,828 in OND (as of June 26, 2012)
Next (higher) Combat Medical Badge
Next (lower) Expert Infantryman Badge[1]
Related USN/USMC Combat Action Ribbon
USAF Combat Action Medal

The Combat Action Badge (CAB) is a military badge worn by U.S. Army soldiers. The emblem features both an M9 bayonet and M67 grenade. The Combat Action Badge may be awarded to any soldier not eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) or Combat Medical Badge (CMB) after the date of September 18, 2001 performing 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. The CAB may be awarded to any branch of service or military occupational specialty including infantryman except when serving in a role where they would be eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge. A silver badge 2 inches (5.08 cm) in width overall consisting of an oak wreath supporting a rectangle bearing a bayonet surmounting a grenade, all silver. Stars are added at the top to indicate subsequent awards; one star for the second award and two stars for the third award. However, only one can be awarded per "qualifying period;" as defined in AR 600-8-22, the only qualifying period for the CAB is the Global War on Terrorism. Thus, only one CAB can be awarded to any soldier at this time. In comparison to the CIB, the CAB has a silver rectangle backing rather than blue, and the CAB is 1 inch shorter in length than the CIB.[2]


Since the Combat Infantryman Badge was introduced in 1943 followed by the Combat Medical Badge in 1945, other branches argued in favor of their own badges, but a War Department review board just after the war ruled these out. Unofficial combat badges for non-infantry soldiers were in some instances worn in violation of uniform regulations or included in personal award displays wherein the crossed-rifles and blue field of the CIB were replaced with the appropriate branch insignia and color. These unofficial combat badges began to appear shortly after the creation of the Combat Infantryman Badge and while the practice continued until the creation of an official non-infantry combat badge it never became widespread.

Throughout the Vietnam War and afterward, troops serving in combat engineer and armored units continued to lobby for their own version of the EIB/CIB. Despite numerous staff studies and recommendations, the request never gained the support of senior army leadership. However, as soldiers from across the spectrum of military occupational specialties engaged in direct contact with enemy forces in the Global War on Terror, the proposal gained new traction.

It appears that the concept for the current Combat Action Badge came from an article written for Armor magazine in Spring 2004 when Major Matthew De Pirro described the need for such a badge based upon the evolving face of warfare and the ongoing transformation of the army. De Pirro stated:

Fellow troopers, I submit to you that our Army would be better served by recognizing our soldiers who have faced an enemy in direct-fire combat with a Combat Action Badge. We are an Army in transformation. A few years ago, we donned the black beret as a symbol of that transformation. It is time for the disparity of the Combat Infantry Badge to end. It is time for the perceived badge wars to end. It is now time to take our transformation one step further. It is time for the Combat Action Badge.

The CAB was originally planned as a ribbon which was to have been known as the "Combat Recognition Ribbon". However, as ribbons are generally seen as less prestigious than medals and badges, the CAB was then proposed as the "Close Combat Badge" (or CCB), thus granting the award badge status vice ribbon. This was to be a combat award only for soldiers who did not hold the infantry military occupational specialty (MOS), but who were deployed specifically to fulfill an infantry duty. This was in response to the large number of non-infantry (tank crews, for example) who were deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and whose units were reorganized to function as infantry (motorized or light) due to the lack of need for tanks and shortage of infantry.

The change from the Close Combat Badge to the CAB may have come about thanks to a question put to Donald Rumsfeld in an April 2005 Afghanistan town hall meeting by a female military policeman as to why the CCB would not include military police soldiers in its awarding criteria despite the combat nature of the military police's job in Afghanistan and Iraq's 360-degree battlefield.[3]

The CAB was approved on May 2, 2005, and was retroactively awarded to soldiers who engaged in combat after September 18, 2001.[4] On June 29, 2005, General Peter J. Schoomaker awarded the badge for the first time to Sergeants April Pashley, Michael Buyas, Manuel J. Montano, Timothy Gustafson and Sean Steans.[5] Over one hundred thousand badges have been awarded since the creation of the award.[6]

Most commanders do not issue this award to qualified soldiers unless they are directly engaged in combat. Notably, it is granted exclusively for contact with enemy combatants, so actions by noncombatants like detainees or rioting civilians do not qualify. Soldier must be personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement. There is no specific requirement for the enemy hostile contact to be direct.[7]

The award is not available to U.S. Army combat veterans of previous conflicts.

See also


External links

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