Combat Action Badge unveiled


combatactionbadge.jpgThis apparently happened while I was on vacation. The image on just said “coming soon” for quite some time after the initial announcement, but here it is.

The CAB, featuring both a bayonet and grenade, may be awarded to any Soldier 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. Award is not limited by one’s branch or military occupational specialty.

“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 is retroactive to September 18, 2001.

I’ve long argued for something along these lines for the non-infantry MOSs. This is good to see, and it looks okay, too. I wonder if anyone has earned one with a bayonet, though…

Big hat tip to the Armchair Generalist, who links to a slightly different story dated 6/10 which notes some clarifications to the CAB and changes to the CIB and CMB. So I guess I’m not quite sure what the actual timing of the design approval was. He also notes

Upon reading the letter of the award, it appears that infantry soldiers COULD get a CAB if they were assigned to a non-infantry unit (for example, a Corps headquarters) and otherwise met the guidelines.


  1. Not bad. I’m surprised (in a good way) that it’s not too politicaly incorrect to introduce a badge with a fighting knife on it.

  2. I think it looks very hooah and all, but I don’t understand the point. Anyone in OEF, OIF (II, III…) ought already be authorized to wear the combat patch on the right shoulder regardless of MOS, as well as combat stripes on the Class A uniform. Why would an individual soldier need a CAB, too?

  3. I’m new to the Army (former Marine). As I understand it, a soldier gets a shoulder patch for being deployed on a real operation. Anyone doing a tour in Afghanistan or Iraq gets a unit shoulder patch these days. The Combat Infantry Badge and now the Combat Action Badge signify you were actually in combat – not just serving chow at Camp Victory. The CIB also gets an enlisted soldier some extra points towards promotion – I assume the CAB will too.

  4. I’m in favor of the CAB as well. Like Bram said, it helps to distinguish those who have actually faced enemy direct fire and I believe will help to instill a greater warrior ethos across the Army.

  5. I’m still not convinced. Why does the Army need a 3d (!) way to display presence in a combat zone? In duty uniform, it would be (at least) 2 ways: combat patch and CAB. Assuming no combat drops. Why doesn’t the Marine Corps need a few visual insignia on their utilities to show the world they are combat veterans? They fight at least as often as soldiers do. Like I said, I think the CAB looks very cool, but I don’t understand why only the Army needs such a device.

  6. GL: The CAB is a badge for MOS’s not eligible for the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. It’s to recognize *direct personal involvement* (not just your unit’s like the shoulder patch) in actual combat. The Marines DO have something equivalent to the CAB, and that’s the Combat Action Ribbon. The CAB is basically an Army version of the Marines’ CAR for those ineligible for the CIB. Now that the CAB or CIB is available to everyone, you could argue that the shoulder patch should only be for those who have earned either the CAB or CIB. Or the Combat Medic Badge, of course. Maybe they could make one Combat Badge and add letters or symbols signifying Infantryman’s, Medic’s, or other Action for the personal decoration, and leave the shoulder patch a unit decoration…

  7. Murdoc, I don’t know how the Corps does business, but it seems that the CAR, being a ribbon, is not worn on a duty uniform. Do Marines wear the CAR on their utilities? The subdued CAB though would be worn by the soldier every day, on the BDU/DCU/whatever-they-call-it-these-days-U. So I’m not against individual soldiers having a device denoting their participation in combat. I just don’t know why soldiers need quite so many varieties: CIB, CFMB or CAB; combat jumps; combat patch; combat stripes (Class A jacket); and however many others I’m overlooking. While the Corps, the Navy, and the Coast Guard get 1 device, and that seemingly only for dress uniform. Don’t get me wrong- I think the CAB looks real cool, and it makes me wanna re-enlist for a chance to get one. But it seems kinda odd that the other services don’t need umpty-ump methods to show whoever can decode the visiaul cues on the uniform that the wearer is a stud. Being a soldier ought to be enough. Almost like the Army’s trying to make up for something…?

  8. GL: Oops. I see your point about the duty uniform vs. dress uniform. I wasn’t thinking about it in that light, though upon rereading your comment it’s clear that’s what you were getting at. Yes, I think there are probably too many different flavors and too many different things to find a spot for on your BDUs. But since no one was about to do away with the CIB in favor of a common Combat Badge, and no one was about to let non-combat MOSs qualify for the CIB, something had to be done. The simplest answer was just to create yet another badge that was the non-combat MOS equivalent of the CIB, so that’s what they did even though it just adds to the plethora of stuff out there. I would think one unified Combat Badge (maybe with devices denoting type (infantryman, medic, armor, artillery, police, or standard)) and the shoulder patch by unit for units would be a fair compromise, though I realize no one will ever let go of what they have today.

  9. It’s not very complicated folks. The FWTS-SI (Former War Time Service Shoulder Insignia) is just that. It shows affiliation for combat service in a particular unit. The CIB, CMB, and CAB shows that a soldier actually participated in ground combat. There is a difference. Each of our Branches of Service have traditions…the CAB is just an addition to an already long standing army tradition, period.

  10. I am particularly glad to see that a badge was issued for those of us who laid down some lead on these idiots (and unfortunately had alot of HE lobbed at us in the form of IEDs-Roadside Bombs). I was there during the initial invasion from Kuwait after 24 March 2003 until I left the stink hole in January 2004. It really miffed me that most of the people over there sat around in the palace compounds and complained about their AC being on the blitz while we were actually engaging the enemy (especially in Baghdad, where I spent over 9 months). We would come off of a combat patrol with blown out windows, holes in the tires and sides of the vehicle, wounds (an occaisional fatality), and here these turds are, getting the same decorations as us!

  11. It’s all a big joke….I’ve seen guys who never faced the enemy get the CIB. They recieved it because our base was constantly under mortar attack. I’m sure the same thing will happen with the CAB. We even had guys who rarely left the wire recieve the bronze star. Most of them were officers, who kissed alot of butt. It’s all a big joke. Until the army fixes these inequalities, and corruption, no new badge or awards is going to make myself or thousands of other ‘real combat’ soldiers feel better. They’ll soon find out when they see people are not re-enlisting anymore.

  12. CB: No doubt you are right that this will be given for questionable ‘combat experience’ like other badges/decorations. This doesn’t address that issue, it just removes an official barrier (MOS limitation) to many genuinely earned badges. I guess one way of looking at it is that now *everyone* is eligible to get a badge whether earned or not when previously only certain MOSes could get a badge whether they earned it or not. It doesn’t fix the awarding or inflation of badges/awards, it just makes everyone eligible to earn inflated awards.

  13. I think it is all BS. The CIB was created for the Infantryman. His job description is to close with, and destroy the enemy! Just returning fire from your convoy does not make you an Infantryman. The CAB takes more away from the Infantry. Hell everyone thinks they are an Infantryman, until a whole city block has to be cleared, room by room. CAB = creat another badge!

  14. It may be politcally incorrect to say this but the CAB is crap! It’s only purpose it to make POG’s feel good about themselves. Why should CSS MOSs be granted a special badge, when they already get the Campaign patch on the right shoulder? As an 11C who was medically retired due to injuries incurred in Iraq, I’m pissed that they’ve created a ‘feel good’ badge.

  15. I think the CAB is a good thing, and right on time. And I don’t think it takes away from the infantry or the medics, unlike the beret did with the rangers. Everyone can still tell the difference between a CIB, CMB, and CAB. I’m an engineer, was part of the invasion of Iraq, and I know alot of arty, ada, and other guys that spent alot of time kicking down doors and drawing fire to ‘close with and destroy the enemy’ and alot of haven’t made it back (ex: SFC Ray Smith of the 11th Engineers who posthumusly won the Congressional Medal of Honor in OIF), yet I also know 11 series types that spent a year sitting in a guard tower in Kandahar that come back sporting a CIB. Yeah, there is a certain level of corruption in awards, and it won’t change until the culture of the Army changes, but I gotta say I think they did right by us with this one. I’m also pleased to see so little rancor in this discussion.

  16. Look guys, say what you will but the bottom line is that the CIB was created long ago and has been held in high regard to an infantryman. No doubt there are several officers, and enlisted jokers running around with one who dont deserve it but there always will be because somebody wants his greens to look ‘the best’ and has figured out how to manipulate the system. The CAB is excess BS just like screwing the rangers out of their berets. The big wheels in Whashington need to quit inventing awards that they envision themselves wearing someday. The right shoulder patch has signaled that the soldier was in a combat zone for a while now. the CIB is reserved for infantry-periord. If you were in theater and engaged the enemy as a truck driver you are a hero anyway. But do generals need to create awards for this. if you want a combat award join the infantry or be a medic otherwise shut up.

  17. I know that everyone in a combat zone does not face the enemy, but i am an artillery soldeir who has in fact faced them. I think that everyone should not be worried about awards, you don’t need a piece of cloth on your chest to remind you of where you have been or what you have done. If you fight for freedom that should be enough. I’m sorry that if you feel like you desreve an award for doing your job, we all make some type of sacrafice. Get over it 11b’s, you are not the only ones who face the enemy.

  18. CIB, CMB, and the CAB all are badges that whom ever has them should wear with pride, and there should be no one hating the idea that the CAB has been developed for the non infantry MOSs. The infantry has had the CIB for quit a long time and many that wear it haven’t faced the enemy or even firec their weapon in return. Same goes for some that wear the CMB. I know of several soldiers that are not infantry that daily patroled the streets in Iraq and were RPGed, IEDed, and fired upon regularly. Now will soldiers who have not faced combat get this award, we all know they will, but there are the few who deserve to be recognized, they earned the award, and whither you like it or not they put their lifes on the line same as any 11 series. In fact probably more then some.

  19. As others have already stated, there’s plenty of folks from OIF that are doing infantry jobs even though they’re not 11s. Working for 1 ID over there I know personally that 1-6 FA were given a ground sector they had to patrol and be responsible for same as the infantry units. Originally, the idea for the CAB was to recognize these type of troops. It’s obviously been expanded some.

  20. Just so you guys know, My SGM brother corrected me conceerning this nation’s highest award. It is no longer the ‘Congressional Medal of Honor.’ It has not been deemed that for quite awhile. It is just the Medal of Honor, capish?! Thanks

  21. Well everyone has their oppinion. I think the CAB is pretty gay. I’m a Combat Engineer. I did the same shit the Infantrymen in our company did. We were all stuck in a Tanker task force. So it was us and the infantrymen being grunts, dismounting, breaching, route clearing, raids, OPs, TCPs, escorts, counter ambushes, and all the other shit regular grunts go through. I think there should be badges that recognize the MOS. Combat Engineers, Infantry, Medics, Field Artillery, and unfortunately tankers are the ground force. I would rather have a the old Engineer combat badge which looks similar to the CIB, but they don’t have that.

  22. CAB is worthless… I’ve been working on 130+ packets for the past few days (got the training room spot when I got back from OIF2) and if you ask me its just a glorified combat patch… anyone who got hit by an IED during combat operations is eligible.. it doesn’t take anything to get hit by an IED.. now to shoot at the enemy that is no more than 15 meters from you, that is what this badge should be about.

  23. I think the CAB is a good thing. The combat patch is awarded for just being in a declared combat zone, not engaging the enemy. That being said it should be awarded to any soldier who meets the criteria regardless of the date. Soldiers who served in Modadishu Somalia, Desert Storm, etc are not authorized the award. This is reason to write to General Schoomaker and ask the 18 September retroactive date be removed so all soldiers who engaged with the enemy are authorized the award.

  24. I earned, and I mean EARNED, my CMB after not even three weeks in Iraq. I was a medic in a LRS company. I can tell you for a fact those guys (llBs) earned their CIBs, too. That being said, I have worked with ADA, Engineers, Commo, and other MOS’s who were in direct action with the enemy. They returned fire and destroyed the enemy just like the rest of us. I think this award is more than justified. I know it is because I saw what these other soldiers did. There is a huge difference between being stationed in Iraq and fighting in Iraq. I think it’s important to distinguish who these soldiers are. Their experience is like nothing anyone else will understand. I say well done.

  25. Marine crew chiefs who fly combat sorties are awarded Combat Aircrew Wings, and those are worn on utilities.

  26. I have mixed feelings about this award. I am a 89D40 (Explosive Ordnance Disposal; formerly 55D) with a secondary MOS 21B40 (Combat Engineer; formerly 12B). I have been to Iraq for two short consecutive tours (EOD does 6 month rotations) and am preparing for my 3rd trip next month. I worked at the most senior level during my 1st tour, and I worked as an EOD PLT SGT and operator during my second… all in Baghdad, Iskandaria, Baqubah, and towards the Iran border. I have been face to face with the enemy, but the worst experience I had was when frag rained down on me while conducting PT on Camp Victory (with all the other REMFs). There is no difference between being outside the wire or inside the wire when it comes to death because it takes you where you stand. I have returned fire from my hooch at a FOB near Baqubah while wearing nothing but undies, boots, and body armor. So, the statements about living with AC in the palace means ka-kabecause we are all at risk… some of us just were fortunate to have leadership that took care of us. I was combat arms years ago, but one thing I always knew I would never earn was jump wings (I am afraid of hights) and a CIB/CFMB because that was for those MOS’. Much like I have heard Combat Engineers bitch about the fact that they can’t wear an EOD badge (because they think that getting lucky by not being killed disarming an IED qualifies them for it), the EOD badge is reserved for my MOS. unlike the infantry (or anyone else for that matter), my MOS routinely is exposed to danger anytime we respond to a mission regardless of peacetime or wartime… UXOs or IEDs kill you regardless of if you are peacekeeping, working a training range in the US, picking up a hand grenade picked up by a WW2 vet and brought home as a trophy, or a roadside IED in podunk Iraq. Bottom line: my EOD has no additional version that signifies that I was in combat because I face danger all the time. I agree that the overseas service patch (right arm unit patch) most commonly called the ‘combat patch’ has lost it’s significance namely because the majority of the army is rotating to a theater where it is authorized for wear (it is not an award; neither are the overseas service bars). Iraq is a unique war in that there is an asymetric battlefield where everyone has to fall into an infantry roll. I would dare say that the right to wear the overseas service bars and unit patch are well earned compared to those that got theirs by occupying a tent in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. I waited many years and multiple deployments to get the right to wear one… because although removing landmines and IEDs in the Balkans can get me just as dead, it was not considered a combat zone. As the devil’s advocate though, I am glad that the Army decided to not degrade the CIB by awarding it to anyone, but I am glad that they created something that gives instant visual recognition to those of us that have engaged the enemy. I am not too keen on the award design of the CAB… I think that a bayonett is a little funny, and the grenade thing needs to be removed all together. I will also say that yes, there will always be those that abuse the award system (in all branches), and the CIB can be awarded to a soldier who is in a unit that engages the enemy meaning that the individual infantryman may/may not have actually done anything to deserve it other than being in the unit it was awarded to. I currently work for an IN MAJ that has a CIB and BSM from the Gulf War alhough he never fired a shot. Is that fair? Well, that is the way it is, he has to live with himself. I know that the BSM is being awarded to all soldiers that are KIA (along with the PHM) regardless of the actuall work they may or may not have performed prior to their untimely demise. Not to disrespect the dead, but a private who is on extra duty cleaning a crapper on camp victory when it gets hit by a stray mortar gets as BSM while two of my SSGs who face IEDs daily get ARCOMs? Whatever… Like I said, awards are not always fair… but why are we going to critcise some soldier for getting an award for something that they rightly deserve? As for the Marines or any other branch not getting a CAB, well, bring that up to their leadership. I know for a fact that years ago very few people in the AF wore any kind of badge, but because of badge envy, the AF created a badge for EVERY job in the AF so that they all could feel special. Could you imagine if the Army did that? would we have cross spoons for cooks, and crossed wrenches for mechanics? No, exceptional mechanical or driving ability is already recognized by a driver/mechanic badge. I was TCS’d to the Pentagon as an SME and advisor on IEDs when one of the clerks that supported us got a MSM from the office he came from. I have been in EOD for 13 years and faced danger routinely and still have never recieved a MSM and this guy was complaining because he only had 2! Again, if you are doing this for the trinkets, you need to get out… come to think of it, the pay isn’t that great either! However, if you are going to throw a medal my way, well, maybe it might make up for all those years of nothing. Anyway, as I prepare for trip 3 to Iraq and my office asked what they could do to help me out, I made one request: process my 4187 so I could have my CAB before I went back. Since my other two trips were consecutive, I do not qualify for a second award, but I have a bad feeling that will be coming soon considering I am going back to the mean streets to work IEDs again. Hey, what the hell; I did the math and on average an infantryman actively engages the enemy 45-90 days of a 1 year tour depending on the area they work, where an EOD tech spends 5 out of 6 months actively engaging IEDs and other explosive hazards while dodging rockets, mortars, gunfire, etc. Even transportaion drivers who face IED’s more than anyone only come in with a a close second compared to EOD. So, enough of the soapbox… if you like the badge, cool. You don’t like the badge, cool. Whatever, just keep in mind that you can’t make everyone happy. PS- I don’t like the beret either, but as long as the guy who signs my paycheck makes me where one I guess I will wear it.

  27. heres my question to anyone.. based on criteria..i served in afghanistan at a FB near pakistan border and I was engaged by enemie via rocket attacks any where from 2-14 at a time many times through out the entire night…It was as common as every week then maybe every2-3 weeks. would you say going off eligibiltity requirements i would be eligible for the CAB?

  28. brew, the criteria for the badge depends on if you personally were engaged by direct or indirect fire. According to all the examples I have seen (and the 4187s I have written for my soldiers), indirect fire does count as long as you either were injured as a result or the item that detonated would have had to have placed you in immediate danger. This is the grey area, but one way that we have sorted this out is by getting the SIGACT report of whatever the indirect fire event was and figured out how close in meters or feet we were to indirect fire. Then we figured out the blast/fragmentation radius (distance from actual blast to the farthest point that frag or blast wave could potentially travel depending on which is greater). In EOD we have the most accurate blast/frag calculator (the ones that FA and EN tend to use either provide a false sense of safety or over-inflate the distance and are not as precise), so try to get info from them for the award. One of the factors I use in the award write up is level of protection and could the indirect fire actually injure you. Many times I have seen a person in a stone building that had a detonation far enough away that even if the blast/frag from a rocket/mortar would have reached full potential they still would not be in danger because they were deep inside a building. This has happened already by those ‘badge seekers’ that work at certain staff jobs (TDY from the Pentagon) that worked on Camp Victory in the ‘palace’ and had something hit close to the building… it is funny how fast those awards were procesed. Anyway, I am not going to say the system is completely fair, but if you want to get what you deserve, the best way is to have good info to make sure you get what you deserve. I was in a hardened building that had 120mm mortars hit danger close (frag hit the sandbags) but I don’t consider that as meeting the same criteria as when I was outside doing PT without armor on and had a rocket detonate within 100m of me (and the frag just missed me). The key is having leadership that agrees with you and realizes what the reality of danger is. To answer your question: how close were you to the rockets that hit your FB? Were you in a bunker or tent? As an example, Balad AB in Iraq gets hit more than any place in theater on an hourly basis. However, the base is rather large and you could honestly have a detonation on one side of the base and never hear it. So, if your FB gets hit, the criteria for you to get the award relies on how close you are to the action.

  29. Here is a question. Being a former USMC 0331 machinegunner who is now in the army. I was wondering if I am allowed to wear at least a combat patch. I have been told that I do not get a CIB since I was a marine. I have also been told that I cannot have a CAB since I was a combat arms MOS and also not a soldier. Can I even wear combat strips on my class A’s

  30. Erik, I am not a personnel specialist, but I may be able to answer this partially: The CIB is awarded to infantry that are currently in the Army at the time the actions happen that warrant the award. The same is true for the CAB (although I think it may be awarded to foreign personnel, but I am not looking at the message so I don’t remember). The USMC does award a ribbon (the CAR) for service in action. I do know that if you are prior service Army and have a CIB/CAB and join the USMC, then you are authorized to receive/wear the CAR in lieu of a CIB/CAB (which is not authorizied on the USMC uniform). And, normally when you are prior service, you may be authorized to wear the CAR on the Army uniform just like other services awards (see your MILPO or look online for list of what ribbons/medals may be worn from prior service). As an example, I know that the USMC rifle awards cannot be worn because the Army has their own equivalent badge. Just the same, the USAF and Navy have weapon qualification ribbons that cannot be worn on the Army uniform for the same reason. However, acheivement medals and commendations from different services may be worn because they are not redundant awards. As far as a combat patch and overseas service stripes… I may be wrong, but this is what I know: Services stripes are authorized for any time overseas (in a designated combat zone), regardless of what service. Get with your personnel office again, but they should have added your deployments in the USMC to your ERB because that is what justifies the wear of the appropriate campaign/expeditionary medal. As for the Combat unit patch, if you were a Marine and did not serve an Army unit (that wears a unit patch), then you may be SOL. However, I do know for a fact that the 1st MEF patch is now authorized for those Army units that served in that AOR (two of my soldiers are authorized to wear it). I know that the USMC does not wear an unit patches at all, but my theory is that if you wear in the 1st MEF during the war then joined the army, you should be able to wear that patch. The other idea I have is to see if the new MNC-I or MNF-I patch is authorized as a combat patch because the USMC serviced under them. Typically you wear the same thing on your right arm as you did on your left unless you were attached to a different unit, or if the unit you are with is not large enough to warrant its patch to meet the combat patch criteria. Again, go to your MILPO office and speak to a competent person (not some private who is more concerned about going home and making excuses why they can’t help you). I will say this though, it may not matter because depending on what you enlisted for, you may end up overseas soon enough getting all the various items for your uniform the old fashioned way.

  31. the comat action badge is for over the us army tape, not your shoulder. it is just like an airborne device or aiir assault wings. i have one. it was not easy to get. you have to have sworn statments of the ‘attack’ all the way up through your chain of command and other stuff to prove it. mortars dont count. unless you get a sworn statement saying you were i think within like 20 meters or so of it landing. its an awesome badge. my mos is 88M. we escorted people the entire 14 months of my deployment. it was dangerous and i been ambushed and this proves it. dont get me wrong, im very modest, but just because im not infantry doesnt mean i shouldnt be able to show off my courage under fire!

  32. I have heard alot about this CAB. Why is it so hard to get? While serving in OEF IV, we were attacked by RPG’s. the first round woke us up, then the second landed in out tent. We lost so much equipment as well as personal belongings. We were 10m away in the mortor pit waiting to shoot back. Does that sound like it is eleigible? or do i have to take a lie detector test?

  33. sounds eligible to me. you just need to prove it with your chian of command who was there and everyone else there. if it was easy to get, everyone would be getting one. lets face it mortars and rockets are an everday occurance in iraq! what would it be worth to you to wear this badge if everyone who went to iraq had one?! its not an ‘i was in iraq’ patch. its effectively returning fire in an ambush etc., or in your case, how close you were to a mortar or rocket type attack.

  34. I received the CAB in Iraq,but I dont wear it because I am a scout and we have always gone out and engaged in direct combat without receiving any badges. As for the CIB, it is the biggest joke ever played on the Army. I saw 11B’s sit in the TOC and answer phones and get the CIB. But if the infantry has no honor concerning their own awards that their problem. The CIB doesn’t mean anything anymore and it’s the Infantry’s fault.

  35. I’m at COB Speicher right now. I’ve been here two months and spent last year in Sinai on MFO-48, where we had VBIED’s and suitcase bombs go off a few hundred meters away. Now, mind you, even though we were in an imminent danger pay area (and CZTE because we conducted WST in the Red Sea every month), we were not eligible for FWTS-SSI (‘combat patches’) or CAB’s, even though shrapnel from the aforementioned VBIEDs hit our hootches as we ran from them to our Company CPs. Since then, MFO vehicles have been specifically targeted by IEDs and suicide pedestrian bombers. That’s just the way it is. Also, I’ve seen many Infantry types that wear the EIB who were complete idiots and others who were brilliant. There’s no consistency. The combat patch is for being here, the CAB is for engaging or being engaged by, the enemy. The Infantry aren’t the only Soldiers who know how to fight.