On the way! – Personally

Tell Me Again Why…


John at Castle Argghhh! posts this picture of some Big Red One boys with the following caption:

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, fight house-to-house during Operation Baton Rouge, in Samarra, Iraq.

Uh, guys? Didn’t you forget something? You know, it’s really big and heavy? And looks like this?

Of course, as you all probably know, a lot of tankers and artillerymen are serving as infantry in Iraq. The big heavies just aren’t needed much against the ragheads, and there’s an obvious shortage of foot soldiers. So there you go.

The question raised is: Shouldn’t these soldiers qualify for the combat Infantryman’s Badge? Their MOS keeps them from earning it, but their actions certainly seem to make the case that they deserve it.

(Yes, I realize that this picture looks semi-staged. I mean, the photographer is in the area the lead trooper is heading into.

Brief aside:

“If this is the crew who were filming us…who’s filming us now? ”

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming

The exact circumstances of this particular photo are really irrelevant. There are thousands of non-infantry deployed as infantry participating in raids and such.)

Being an outsider looking in, I don’t really know the answer to this question. But it seems to me that these guys should get something. Go read Argghhh! for a lot more info.


  1. At least they have rifles…some drivers/techs/non-infantry types are issued 9mm pistols for this work; they try to at aleast sneak in Aks though ;) Given the likely hood of more such work for such troops, Basic aught to now include advanced Infatry training IMO.

  2. Murdoc, Shouldn’t we be above calling the enemy in Iraq ‘ragheads’? I’m not saying you need to show the terrorists any kind of respect, but there are plenty of people who wear turbans or ghutrahs who are not terrorists or insurgents. Shouldn’t we try to hold the high ground on things like this?

  3. Chuck: Boy, I’m striking out left and right with you today, huh? Yeah, I thought about the use of the term ‘raghead’ as I wrote it. But a lot of what I’ve read by our guys over there uses the term, so I left it.

  4. Sorry to be so negative, Murdoc. The guys over there are away from home, hot, frustrated, and getting shot at. I will easily forgive them for using rude language. You and I sitting here in air-conditioned comfort should show a little more restraint, though. Anyway, there are certainly worse epithets you could use. I guess I’m just in a commenting mood today.

  5. Chuck: As I mentioned, I did have second thoughts. And you are certainly correct when you point out that you and I don’t have the same leeway that our guys out on the line do. I wasn’t trying to snatch some of that leeway. I was just writing it for those guys, since a lot of my readers are military types. (Very clever, by the way. Even though I’m stubbornly sticking to my rationale behind using a questionable term, there’s little chance I’ll ever use it again. If only to avoid having to explain myself again when I’m not 100% sure that I’m in the right.)

  6. Maybe the caption got the wrong unit? At least when I was in, tankers carried grease guns and 45 Colts (M48 or M60 series tanks) or ‘short stock’ M16’s and 9mm’s (M1 series tanks). Of course, during war, a lot of equipment is ‘liberated’, but I think it’s likely this is a infantry unit that is incorrectly labeled.

  7. And didn’t we used to have a Combat Armor Badge? Maybe as late as the Vietnam War? Just bring it back. Like the black berets (originally armor headgear, ‘borrowed’ by the Rangers, now applied to all), we tankers have a lot of good ideas…I like being in a big heavy thing. It makes me feel safe.

  8. Fred: Of course, you may be right about this being a mislabeled unit. Or some true infantry attached to the 1-77 Armor. But there’s been a lot of stories about tankers and artillerymen being trained and equipped as infantry since the occupation began, so I’ll take this one at face value unless there’s a solid reason not to. And the Castle Argghh! article I linked to has some thoughts on the CAB. Being a simple civie, I don’t really know what to think. But the guys shouldn’t be ‘penalized’ because they’re playing out of position. If those really are tankers, I’m sure they’d rather have a big heavy thing around them, too.

  9. I have never been in the military, though I spent 26 years in law enforcement (including 2 years with our complex’s Emergency Response Team) with a state agency. I imagine some of my experience crosses over though most does not. 1. Non infantry troops used as infantry should have proper training (time & circumstances permitting)to do a very dangerous job as safely as it can be done. 2. It would not be a bad idea (maybe this is already being done) to liberally sprinkle non leg units with qualified infantry personnel (if available) to lead the way, and give OJT when more conventional training isn’t available. 3. If they’re doing the job for a specified period of time (whatever the ‘authorities’ deem appropriate)they should be eligible for the badge or award (whatever). God bless our troops.

  10. Fred, Sadly, the grease gun is gone. I’m a former Marine now in a National Guard Armor Unit. Tankers now just carry the 9mm pistol while doing tanker work and an M-16 or M-4 if they have to pretend they are Infantry. These guys are getting shafted not just because they will have fewer pretty badges on their uniform. The CIB actually gives enlisted soldiers additional points towards promotions. I prefer the ‘Combat Action’ Ribbon issued to Sailors and Marines who have been in Combat. It does not distinguish based on MOS, just whether or not you’ve seen the elephant. When you see a Sailor or Marine wearing ribbons, just look for the one that’s blue on one end, red on the other and yellow in the middle. If he has a big stack of ribbons without the CAR, chances are you are in the presence of a true armchair warrior.

  11. There was talk of giving the CIB out to anyone that served as ‘infantry’ for a period of 6 months or more. This was nixed by an infantry ‘branch’ officer very high in the chain of command. The soldiers now receive the OIF/OEF medal and Global War on Terrorism medal if they serve in the theater for longer than 6 months.

  12. This is for all who truely dont know! Those men coming through the wall are Infantry soliders. They are part 1-77 Ar in the scout platoon. They are all eligible for the CIB. Anyone who serves 30 days in Operation Iraqi/Enduring Freedom are authorized for the unit combat patch, as well as the campain medal and ribbion. The Army overseas stripe ‘combat stripe’ for the laymen is authorized when six months of service in a combat zone is completed. This does not count those serving in Kuwait and all those pogue bases in the south. Those who served in kosovo also do not count. Now you really only have to serve 5 months and 1 day to recieve this award because it is based on the Army pay structure. Because you will get paid for a whole month just serving one day! Also the Army has come out with a new award for non-Infantry solider who see combat because many have done the same job as them because we needed more ground pounders then anything. Its called the sapper tab and many men in engineer BNs and field atry BNs will recieve this award. Well thanks for your time I hope I could clear a few things up.

  13. I understand the concept of wanting to award soldiers for doing fine work. I would like to ask, however, why this becomes the reason to do these deeds? Its not the uniform that makes the man, but the man who makes the uniform. If you’re proud of your branch, be proud in everything you do with that branch. We’re fighting an intense urban war here. When trying to win hearts and minds, we don’t need the large, destructive capacities that the other combat arms branches come to bear on the enemy. Face it, whenever a new soldier returns from his first combat tour of duty, his uniform is is accessorized. Tour medals, Combat Patches, and Overseas Service Bars make a uniform stand out regardless of branch. In fact, I don’t recall our cooks bitching about the fact they weren’t going to get a CIB. They didn’t need it to make themselves feel better about the job they did. Whenever I’m wearing my Class A’s, I get more questions about my Drill Sergeant Badge and Air Assualt wings then I do about my CIB…or more important to me, my Bronze Star for Valor. Seems to me that the people bitching about an award need to suck it up and drive on, or if you’re that much of a badge collector switch branches.

  14. I have read all of the inquiries about the Combat Armor Badge coming back, and the employment of the Combat Action Badge. Everyone has their good points and their bad. As for myself, I am a 19 series tanker. Have been my entire career, which consists of 17 years so far, and I am currently serving in Iraq, and can tell you first hand that the ‘Big Heavies,’ as refered to earlier by another writer, still are playing a very important role in the urban warfare that we are in. No, we are not involved in an all out ground war, but it has come to be known by the ‘insurgency’ that ‘we’ own the night. It is a well known fact the capabilities of an M1 Series Tank are far superior to anything else, as far as a direct fire weapon. Please don’t get me wrong. I love having the Infantry working along side of me. It’s them that are there knocking down the doors and doing the raids that are uncovering the ‘insurgents’ and the weapons caches. But when a vehicle drives by and drops a roadside bomb, or when a VBIED is rolling toward your position at a high rate of speed, who is it that’s going to take it out? I love having Artillery suppost as well. It’s them that we use to prep and objective when we are assaulting a positon, or it’s them that we use when it’s dark out and we want a little light put on an area. It’s them that we use when we have bad guys in our area of operation, but that are out of range of our direct fire weapons. I love having our Cavalry too. It’s these guys that work hand in hand with the Infantry to do all of the ‘hands on’ work. All the ‘sneeking and peeking.’ And I also love all of our support units as well. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our mission. It’s them that fix our equipment, it’s them that feed us, it’s them that bring us our ammunition, and so on and so on. So I do not frown on the idea that the Army has adopted the Combat Action Badge. But I think that they have opened it up too far. I am still a strong believer that the ‘Line Units’ are the ones that really get the job done. We are the ones that have our hands ‘in it’ from start to finish. So for that, I think that we should stand out, not necessarily above the rest, but definitely ‘stand out.’ So keep the CAB for the Non-Line Units. Keep it for the support personnel that may come under fire while performing their duties, whether it be on the FOB(Forward Operating Base), or outside the wire if they have to go out for some reason. But the Army, in my opinion, needs to bring back the Combat Armor Badge, and develop one for the Artillery and the Cavalry to go along with the CIB and the CMB. Either that or keep the CAB and have it encompass everyone, no matter what, and do away with the CIB. I don’t think that it is justified to single out the Infantry and not the other combat arms units. To have them keep their badge, while all others are grouped together. So that a tanker or a cav. scout that has looked danger in the eye every day and has been engaged more times than they want to remember wears the same badge as a clerk who was 200 meters away from a stray mortar round that landed on the FOB, and got hit with a pebble. So that’s my opinion. Take it for what it’s worth. I am here and I am living it and I know that there are alot more out there that feel the same way. I am not trying to take anything away from the Infantry, but I am trying to bring everyone onto the same level as them. In todays wars, it’s not just them who run the show.