How to misunderstand the CIB

| April 22, 2012

Chief Tango sent us a link to a Washington Post article about a young lieutenant who mistakenly shot a subordinate Pfc. David H. Sharrett II. If there is any truth to the story, he certainly deserves to be investigated. But, it’s clear to me that the Washington Post doesn’t understand the Combat Infantryman Badge. First, look at his headline;

The story goes on to describe how the Army is investigating the award of the CIB to now-CPT Timothy R. Hanson;

Then-Lt. Timothy R. Hanson was given the “combat infantryman badge” specifically for his actions on Jan. 16, 2008, according to a document supplied to Sharrett’s father, David H. Sharrett Sr., last week.

I don’t know how the CIB could have been awarded “specifically for his actions” on a certain day since the CIB is a qualification badge given for a period of service, it not a medal given for specific actions. That’s why it’s called a badge and not called a medal. the Army is fairly specific on that point;

Awarded to personnel in the grade of Colonel or below with an infantry or special forces military occupational specialty who have satisfactorily performed duty while assigned as a member of an infantry/special forces unit, brigade or smaller size, during any period subsequent to 6 December 1941 when the unit was engaged in active ground combat.

Basically, you only have to be assigned to an infantry unit lower than a brigade while they’re being shot at by an enemy. The orders for the award are issued to groups of soldiers who served during the same time period – nothing about it has to do with “specific days”.

The Army compounds the confusion;

Thursday evening, Army spokesman George B. Wright Jr. said that ”the Army takes matters of improper award allegations very seriously. In the case of Lt. Hanson’s Combat Infantryman Badge award order dated March 27, 2008, the Army has directed a formal review of the award. The review is ongoing, and expected to be complete within the next two months.”

I don’t know what the Army could be reviewing. If the Captain served in an infantry unit in combat, he deserves the badge – and the Army should tell the Post that instead of trying to mollify them with false outrage.

I’m not defending Hanson, nor am I trying to make a case for him keeping his CIB, I’m just trying to clarify the award here. Like the Army should have done in the first place.

Category: Media

Comments (18)

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  1. Marine6 says:

    One might raise the question if killing one’s soldiers constitutes “satisfactory performance” of their duty as a lieutenant.

  2. 15DAZNG says:

    Washington Compost can t even see straight enough to realize they re being duped. I understand that if an ND seriously injured or killed his son, that his father would want to start slinging some mud around in order to kickstart a subsequent 15-6. But if they can t even report that straight, then why bother? The Compost is a pile of shit, always has, always will be.

  3. Tman says:

    I think it opens up another can of worms in terms of who ‘deserves’ a CIB and who does not.

    An individual who receives a CIB may ‘technically’ have earned it based on regulations, but whether the person actually ‘deserves’ it based on the opinions of others is another matter entirely (was the person actually engaging in combat or was the person just in the vicinity of an area where others actually engaged with the enemy, things of that sort).

    I leave this up to the infantry guys to debate as I am sure it is sure to be a contested view point, as to me an outsider I perceive the CIB to be one of the most esteemed, coveted, and valuable of earned badges in the Army.

  4. NHSparky says:

    Then again, the “Army Spokesperson” is more likely than not a PAO hack who barely knows how to spell their own name without approval from on high, let alone know all the requirements for a CIB they’ll never wear.

  5. CI says:

    Yep, WaPo has the crux of the CIB wrong, which isn’t surprising. The CIB itself has gone through some changes in how it’s awarded, though I don’t have the regs at my fingertips. My first award was from Desert Storm, when it was awarded to every Infantryman in qualifying units, whether they actually saw action or not.

    By the time I got to Baghdad in 08, the requirements were more stringent, stipulating individual award for specific combat actions, as opposed to merely being theater.

  6. SJ says:

    TMan: “I perceive the CIB to be one of the most esteemed, coveted, and valuable of earned badges in the Army.”
    Can’t argue with you but I’ve heard Infantry bubbas say the EIB was really tough.

  7. Sig says:

    The awards I have seen specified that they were involved in action on a specific date. The infantry company to which we were attached submitted everyone involved for a CIB (or CAB for us MI puke augmentees) after our first indirect fire incident. We discussed whether the thing was truly merited for a while, since the mortar fire in question was so far off that we didn’t even know we’d been mortared until the next day.

    By the time we left the hill, we’d been attacked four more times (more effectively), and by the time we actually received the approved award order three months later, I kinda lost count, though we only actually returned fire in one of those engagements.

  8. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Gentlemen, I am not trying to stir the pot but I don’t understand the need for all these badges everyone awards. As an Amtracer, I knew I was good at my job every time I got ‘promoted’, i.e. from LVT crew man to gunner to crew chief to squad leader (for admin stuff) to section leader (operational) and as an acting Plt Sgt. I understand specialized badges like jump wings or EOD and such but a badge for being proficient at your job?

  9. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Yat Yas 1833 #18; You haven’t heard Uncle Jimbo brag about his expert driver badge, have you? He hasn’t shown me orders for it yet.

  10. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    #19 Jonn, LOL, haven’t has the pleasure but I’ll be on the look out!?:)

  11. docstew says:

    The CIB, along with the CAB and CMB, are no longer blanket awards for all members of a unit. They are now based upon being present and taking action when receiving fire.

  12. Jack says:

    “I don’t know how the CIB could have been awarded “specifically for his actions” on a certain day since the CIB is a qualification badge given for a period of service, it not a medal given for specific actions. That’s why it’s called a badge and not called a medal.”

    Wrong. The CIB is awarded to Infantrymen who satisfactorily perform their duties while personally present and under fire. It’s not given as a blanket award for a period of service. It’s been like that for a long time now.

    Key words here are “satisfactorily performed his duty.” Hanson walked his guys into an ambush, shot his own dude, then left the field. You can argue “fog of war” all day long, but fuck him.

  13. Hondo says:

    Yat Yas 1833: So, you’re in favor of the Navy and USMC giving up their rough equivalent to the CAB/CMB/CIB – the CAR?

  14. DixieLandMan says:

    When I was awarded mine in 2007, it was for ‘being actively engaged in ground combat.’ Yes, you had to hold the 11 series MOS. Our armor guys (19 kilo) were awarded the CAB. People on our FOB were put in for the CAB for a mortar attack but that fell through. Ours was for fighting our way out of an ambush.

  15. Anonymous says:

    so you can’t recieve a CIB for being caught in a mortor attack which I was in many in Nam went on patrols with Special forces never got hit was just real lucky so what do you think do I qualify for a CIB

  16. passerby says:

    to anonymous; if you were infantry then yes.

  17. will says:

    Pretty simple concept when discussing awarding combat badges. If you receive enemy fire (IED, Mortars, Rockets, Direct Fire) while performing infantry duties (could be a patrol, assault, security checkpoint, or anything that requires you to use direct fires against the enemy), you would qualify for award of the CIB if you are infantry.

    There is way too many people throwing around all these scenarios when it is pretty simple to determine awarding of the badge. The problem is that too many people are trying to determine what constitutes a combat action by applying some of the most harrowing experiences that they can come up with, and it is completely ridiculous.

    Contact with the enemy can be in numerous ways, some of them can be a major firefight, others could be the enemy firing indirect fire close on a position, either way they are contact with the enemy. The reports would lay all this stuff out and it has to go through numerous levels of command to be awarded, so it is not as easy to get as some would like many to believe and not every infantryman is getting one.

    After 10+ years of war on two fronts, there are less than 80,000 infantry or special forces personnel that have been awarded the CIB.