What They Mean – Combat Badges

| May 12, 2014

Combat Infantry Badge.svg

When I first deployed to Afghanistan, there were two badges that were highly sought after: the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB), and the Combat Action Badge (CAB). In the interests of riling up those that may believe one to be superior to the other, I’m going to pair them together and talk about them as if they are the same. Ha. I am going to set the Combat Medic Badge aside because its meaning is separate and distinct from the two above. Also, I don’t have either the CAB or CIB. I’m a medic. We have our own badge. But that is another blog.

Combat Action Badge.svg

The CIB was established October 27, 1943 and was designed to recognize those Infantryman who had served in combat. There are a lot of retroactive issuance and non-availability information, as is outlined in AR 600-8-22, but I’m not going to go into those. The important three criteria must be met to receive this badge. They are:

(1) Be an infantryman satisfactorily performing infantry duties.

(2)  Be assigned to an infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat.

(3) Actively participate in such ground combat. Campaign or battle credit alone is not sufficient for award of the CIB.

The CAB was established May 5, 2005, but only covers the periods of this most recent conflict. It was designed to recognize the actions of those who have served in combat, but can’t be doubled up with the CIB or the Combat Medic Badge. The three criteria must be met to receive this badge. They are:

(1) It may be awarded to any Soldier.

(2) The soldier must be performing assigned duties in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized.

(3) The 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.

Now, the army has rated the CIB as a Group 1 skill badge and the CAB a Group 2, which means if you have been awarded both, then you wear your CIB above your CAB.

I refuse to believe one to be better than the other. After serving on a small base with both mortars and scouts in the same platoon and working together to accomplish the same mission, the only difference between two guys in the same team was that one was a mortarman patrolling as a rifleman, and the other was a scout doing a rifleman’s job. The mortarman receives a CIB and the scout receives a CAB. I don’t see a difference between the two badges. Your MOS doesn’t mean anything;  it’s only what you do when it counts.

Here is where the criticism and debates really begin. The two most recent conflicts have created a watered-down image of these badges, leading many who have truly met all the requirements to stop wearing it, while those who barely made the minimum requirements, wear them with pride. Of course, I say the most recent two conflicts, but I don’t believe in the slightest that the previous generations had any fewer badge chasers than we have now, who are willing to fight harder to be awarded their badge, than they were willing to fight to earn it. Anyone who has been in a combat environment knows what I am referring to: that Captain hiding under his desk during an indirect fire attack, who then stands up after the attack is over and adds the dates to his template award that he had waiting for such an occasion.

I was one of those protesters, refusing to wear my badge because it had been watered-down, and because I thought it carried little meaning–until I was corrected, for two reasons. First, my refusal to wear it in the face of those who hadn’t truly earned it, only watered it down more. If you earned it, wear it. By your silent professionalism, you humble those who think that little badge makes them a better soldier. Second, it isn’t about you. It is about those who were with you. By wearing that badge, you demonstrate pride in those who you stood beside during your conflict. You never do anything alone. Have some pride in that fact.

Now here is the reason that many people forget, while being taken in by the glitz and glamor of badges, that is their original purpose–to identify skill and experience. The idea behind badges is for a commander to walk up to a formation of soldiers, who he doesn’t know, and by looking at them be able to identify their level of experience and responsibility by their rank, and also to be able to identify who his seasoned veterans are. Those who had been tested, the CIB and CAB, tell a commander that you have valuable experience and allow him to potentially utilize you for a better result.

How does this apply to Stolen Valor individuals? The same way it does with everything else. It makes them assholes. If you wear it and you didn’t earn it, you are an asshole. That is all.

For those who have worn out their joints, shed blood, and fired rounds downrange at the enemy, and as a result have been awarded one of these badges, they are a reflection of our experience and our actions when it mattered most.

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Category: Politics

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  1. bartdp says:

    Being neither 11B or 68W I have neither of these awards. As a 11E of the RVN era where 27% of all 11Es were casualties, and serving in a Cavalry Unit I worked as a dismount, ACAV commander, Sheridan driver, loader, gunner, I couldn’t receive any reconition other than my PH this has always been shoved down my throat by many but not all 11B’s. As for the CAB I figure its a designation for anyone breathing in a combat zone today! If you are or have been a combat arms MOS you deserve your very own significant decoration as such!

    • drc says:

      I disagree with you. I was a Corpsman but served with Marines in Iraq as a line Corpsman with the grunts and my 2nd deployment to Afghanistan I served an IA with a National Guard unit that had a mix of 11B and 13B.

      All the 11Bs wanted the CIB and all the 13Bs always felt like the CAB was significantly lesser award. Our 1st Sgt gave us a great speech on the issue. “You are carrying on with the fine traditions of the US military, the same as those men who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, and the Balkans. Be proud of what you have accomplished because you are now all Combat Veterans, and its one team one fight. The enemy does not discriminate between a specific MOS, and could careless who you are.”

      I agree that there are badge chasers. I saw guys who were from the Garrison who would purposely try to get blown up to get a Purple Heart, or would try to claim anything as enemy contact even when a local threw a rock at our convoy. They would come down range with us for a few days and claim IDF and try to get their CAB or CIB.

      My experience with dealing with one of those guys who got a CIB under suspicious circumstances was very recent. This guy was at the time a 2nd LT who was fired in country for being a lazy, fat POS within the first week of being down range (this guy failed out of West Point his freshmen year, went to ROTC and they would not let him commission, finally got a commission through OCS, his dad was a Full Bird Col about to pick up a star by the way). Well he got back to the Garrison and became the Secfor Platoon Leader for the remainder of the deployment. He ended up getting a CIB for some IDF and small arms fire that we had within that first week that honestly pending how you wrote it up might get approved. He also tried to put himself in for a Bronze Star w/V which got knocked down to just a Bronze Star. The guy never saw anything that could resemble combat the remainder of the deployment and he was forgotten about by the rest of our platoon. We ended finding out he got a CIB for that incident and our 1st Sgt through a fit as did our Company Co and tried to get it revoked.

      Years go by and I have forgotten about 2nd LT Douche-nozzle. My older brother was getting his MBA and I go to visit him. As I am walking across campus with my brother I hear someone yell my name. Low and behold its 2nd LT Douche-nozzle, who after we talk and catch up I give him my number ect ect. Well I guess the story he was telling everyone in business school was a total lie because I shot down every story people had told me like how he was there when we lost three soldiers and had to drag the bodies and put them in the trunk, or when we had a VBIED go off in Asadabad (I was injured and MEDVAC’d out of country, and I can tell you he was not there). Essentially he took all our stories and claimed he was there. When I saw him out at a bar later that I ended up berating him about how full of shit he was and how he got fired our first week down range and everybody thought he was fat, lazy and incompetent. That right there made it all worth it. If he wants the CIB let him have it but everybody who was on that deployment knew what really happened to 2nd LT Douche-nozzle. Deep down inside his sad, sorry self he knows too what he did. That’s why I say the award is not watered down because people deep down inside know what the accomplished and if they rate the awards they wear.

    • LIRight says:


      If memory serves me, 11E was a Tanker MOS during the Vietnam era. I served with 11th Cav as an 11D40 (armor intel specialist, or scout) and received a CIB 1967-1968.

      • bartdp says:

        @LIRight, I served in 69/70, I’m not familiar with anyone other than a 11B receiving a CIB while serving in B Trp 3d Sqdn 4th Cav 25th ID. But I do realize that there is a fudge factor when addressing awards! I don’t deserve a CIB that is for Infantrymen, which I am not! 11E is Armor crewman. “The total number of U.S. Army Tankers (enlisted men with MOS 11E10, 11E20, 11E40, and Officers with MOS 1203) killed in the Republic of Vietnam is 725. To put this in perspective it must be understood that only 2,720 men served as tankers in Vietnam from 1966 to 1971. This represents a loss rate of 27%, the highest loss-rate for any MOS in any branch during the war”. < I borrowed this from a website http://www.rjsmith.com/tankers-kia.html I'm not sure how accurate this is but its rather stark with those numbers. I'm not here to argue the merits but the deserving need to be reconized in an appropiate manner!

        • LIRight says:

          With regards to the high casualty rate….we all pretty much felt like we were driving around in a 13 ton aluminum -alloy green target (ACAV), which was a favorite of the VC and NVA RPG-7’s. We were hard to miss…and then there was the M48-A3 tanks that were just as vulnerable – I saw the result (driver was KIA) of a hit to the front slope of a tank (forget how thick the armor is on the slope, maybe 4 or 5″?)after taking an RPG….a cheap and still very effective weapon.

  2. JAGC says:

    Thank you for this post. I have a CAB earned through traditional combat vice indirect fire. For awhile, I chose not to wear my CAB for exactly the reason you state–it appeared to be watered down (like the bronze star without valor for those of a certain rank). I started wearing my CAB some time later while defending service members from adverse actions/courts-martial. It actually made my job a bit easier working with commanders, etc, to know that we shared the experience of having engaged the enemy in combat. I’m not a big award guy, but of all my awards, I am most proud of my CAB.

  3. Hondo says:

    I personally always thought the Navy and USMC got this one right with the CAR.

    No issue with me for the Infantry and Medics having a unique badge to identify having performed in combat, but I always thought it was pretty sh!tty that the other guys (and in some cases, gals) next to them getting shot at didn’t rate a damn thing. Last time I checked, bullets don’t care about one’s MOS.

    And JAGC: IDF kills people just as dead as bullets.

    • 68W58 says:

      Hondo-consider this hypothetical: two friends enlist as medics in the guard, they have the same military education, similar PT scores and IWQ, go to the same training and attend college together prior to deployment.

      Both deploy at the same time, but one goes with an infantry battalion while the other goes with an MP battalion. By some coincidence the two units are assigned to the same FOB across the street from each other and both medics are working in their respective aid stations across the street from one another.

      One day IDF lands just outside the IN BN aid station, within 100 meters of the MP aid station. The medic assigned to the MPs gets a CAB, while the medic assigned to the infantry gets nothing (because-by regulation-you cannot get the CMB for IDF). They return home with the same awards-except for the combat badge-and get on with their careers.

      The next year the medic who went with the infantry pushes himself a little harder and gets a higher PT score than his friend and should be higher on the promotion list. But the medic who went with the MPs gets 10 more points for his CAB under awards and just edges out his friend for the promotion. Given the way that the Army has established the different criteria for the CAB, this is the kind of situation that soldiers might face.

      • Hondo says:

        68W58: help me out here. Where precisely is the prohibition against award for IDF documented? What I’ve found in AR 600-8-22 says that a CMB recipient must “satisfactorily perform medical duties while the unit is engaged in actual ground combat, provided they are personally present and under fire.” The reg doesn’t specify that the fire must be direct fire vice indirect fire, at least not that I’ve found. And last time I checked, being shelled/mortared/rocketed was considered “taking fire”.

        Not saying you’re wrong. Just that I can’t find that explicit prohibition stated in the AR.

        • 68W58 says:

          I can only say that (see the story of my CMB below) HRC has said the only direct fire counts for award of the CMB (and presumably the CIB). Somewhere I have the memo in digits of them stating this.

        • Twist says:

          I seen a dentist get the CMB. He was at our COP working on the IA’s teeth when a sniper shot in his window.

        • 68W58 says:

          Hondo-looking at the reg, here’s how I think they figure this: if you look at the CIB part of the reg, it says something about “closing with the enemy”. The CMB was originally intended as sort of a “companion” badge for infantry medics (it has been expanded to other combat arms more recently), but the criteria is supposed to be similar. In AR 600-8-22 paragraph 8-7 a (1) it says “Battle participation credit alone is not sufficient; the infantry unit
          must have been in contact with the enemy”. So I guess that’s where they get that IDF should not qualify medics for the CMB.

          • Hondo says:

            68W58: I can’t buy that, though you may be correct that some are interpreting it in that manner. A unit moving to contact that comes under IDF is “closing with the enemy”. That can happen before those same units take any direct fire.

            Units closing with the enemy that take IDF also sometimes take casualties requiring medical care while still receiving IDF.

            • 68W58 says:

              Hondo-because it took me so long to get an award that I was sure that I qualified for, I’m with you on using the broadest possible criteria for awarding the badge. But I’m telling you-the memo we got back was from HRC itself (the seventh circle of one shop Hell)! Now my former PL was able to convince them that they were in error regarding IEDs and they eventually published an ALARACT with regards to that in 2008, but I am certain that if you submitted a CMB request for IDF up to them it would be denied.

      • Isnala says:

        Playing my zoomie/wing nut card here but if the medic can’t get the CMB, why wouldn’t he wualify for the CAB just like the medic with the MPs? Or does being assigned to a leg unit disqualify you for for a CAB and you canly only get a CMB?
        I know you can’t earn both for the same action/deployment but I would have thought the situation you describe would at least qual for the CAB.

        • 68W58 says:

          Or does being assigned to a leg unit disqualify you for for a CAB and you canly only get a CMB?

          Yes-or at least it’s supposed to, although I have seen that regulation stretched. But the reg does say that if you are eligible for the CIB/CMB you can’t get the CAB.

    • CB Senior says:

      Not really Hondo. Sailors or Marines stationed on a ship can recieve this award for the ship firing missles at a target miles away. The whole ship gets the award. Being a Ground Force(Dirt Sailor) we have to have been engaged in DF or IDF and act appropriately in the combat actions. They at least change the directive for IED’s. You used to have to return fire. Not nearly the same as a whole ship getting the award.

      • Hondo says:

        True. But at least in the shipboard case, everyone participating is treated equally. There’s no “your job was to fire the missile, so you get it; your job was to target it, so you’re SOL”.

    • JAGC says:

      Hondo… indirect fire absolutely kills people. There are lots of examples, such as when a mortar hit a bus stop at Speicher in 2006, killing a group of Soldiers. My trepidation to wearing the CAB at the time was because of the belief, whether warranted or not, that people were receiving CABs for booms that were not necessarily in the immediate vicinity. Again, this was the mindset at the time, and it may very well have just been an old-wives tale.

      • Hondo says:

        Yeah, that happens sometimes. IMO that’s a chain-of-command issue vice a problem with the badge.

        My only real point was that “taking fire” includes both direct and indirect fire. Here, a bit of common sense on the part of the approval authority would go a long way.

        If you weren’t close enough or in circumstances such that you were personally at risk (e.g., didn’t have to take cover), then IMO IDF probably shouldn’t count. If you were caught in the open and were close enough to be at risk (here, the old “bursting radius” that’s no longer quoted for various IDF munitions would IMO be helpful), it should qualify.

        IMO we pay GOs to make those kind of decisions. But they don’t think in lockstep with each other. And without some kind of guidance from DA, I’ve seen it all over the map.

  4. Skysoldier says:

    I remember being in Afghan in 2005 when the CAB came out, and yes I laughed at anyone who wore one (I earned my CIB). At first it seemed that the CAB was only there because some officer was annoyed that Infantryman get a little more bling than the regular soldier. I do not take away the CAB from any FO/FSO/ Combat Engineer, they earned theirs. What I do think is total BS are all the thousands and thousands of soldiers sporting a CAB now because a Mortar round landed somewhere on KAF or BAF and they “earned” theirs because of that.

    It was a sham award created for non combat personnel, but the ones who earn it,and I mean really earn it, wear that Mother F’r with pride.

    • T1B says:

      Skysoldier – Just an anecdote, when I was in Baghdad (2005-2006), my company was always short-handed (we were the battalion weapons company). At one point, I was having to borrow gunners from the platoons to go on patrols. My supply clerk was a great kid if not a great supply guy, so I asked him if he wanted to be my gunner. You’d have thought I handed him a winning lottery ticket. He went to the range that day to qualify on the M240B.

      The only 92Y in the entire brigade that got his CAB in direct fire fights and not for IDF on the FOB.

      My NBC Speacialist was the gunner in my 1SG’s truck, too.

    • CB Senior says:

      There were a lot of Dismounted Patrols done by AirCav and other units that had Direct Fire in Combat OPs but could not get the CIB because their MOS did not qualify. That was the orginal intent of the CAB and lots of Troops did earn it. I think it was watered down later because of jealousy.

      • Hondo says:

        Not really. One of the first 5 CABs ever presented was to a soldier who came under IDF.


        I believe the individual awarding the badge was either the CSA or VCSA. Kinda hard to “put the horse back in the barn” after one of those two guys has opened the gate.

        • CB Senior says:

          There award was finalized in 2005 so the first awardees could have been anybody, since it was retro to 2001. This article is from 2004.

          Giving the award to IDF folks first would give the office weeinies cover, but then again HQ types never blow hot air up their own skirts.

          • Hondo says:

            Um, CB Senior . . . that article is about the CIB, and MG Chiarelli’s attempt to get an exception to policy regarding the MOS requirement. Weren’t we discussing the CAB?

            Sorry, but that doesn’t change my opinion. When the CSA or VCSA awards one of the first 5 to someone who was 100+ meters away from IDF impact, well, that kinda establishes a precedent that’s pretty hard to overlook.

            That particular CAB shouldn’t have happened IMO. But it wasn’t my call, and it did.

  5. 68W58 says:

    Unless the latest revision of 670-1 has changed this the CIB, EIB and CAB are group 1 badges and the CMB and EFMB are group 2 badges, so that medics who had both could previously wear both the CAB and CMB (or EFMB).

    However, my understanding of the briefing of the new 670-1 (given to us a couple of months ago) is that now you can only wear on group 1 or group 2 badge. The old 670-1 had useful charts to illustrate this (with the hypothetical soldier wearing a CIB and EFMB), but I can’t find a similar chart in the new 670-1.

  6. Green Thumb says:

    Are we overlooking the CMB?

    I would (and do) assume that is more sought after than the CAB.

    Obviously a specialty badge, but it is what it is.

  7. Jacobite says:

    The discussion over combat recognition is an old one.

    “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”

    Napoleon Bonaparte

  8. Twist says:

    I earned my CIB within a week of landing in Mosul and by the end of that week I no longer had the same bullets in my combat load that I left Kuwait with. We had to have two sworn statement and a copy of the SIGACTS attached to our CIB paperwork. A couple of months later I still hadn’t recieved my CIB. A dud mortar round landed about 250 meters away from our BN TOC. Our S-1 NCOIC had his CAB paperwork in before the round stoped smoking. He got his CAB before we got our CIBs.

    • 68W58 says:

      I can sympathize-I qualified for my CMB in 2005, but did not get it awarded until 2011. Meanwhile I saw CABs being awarded left and right for IDF.

      The story of my CMB-I was with an ACR in 2005 and we submitted our awards to 42nd ID which had retained authority for awards approval at division. Nothing happened during our deployment and eventually our packets came back “no action taken”. Our PL submits them up to HRC and they come back disapproved because “IEDs are not considered direct fire weapons”. Our PL goes on S1Net and argues that that is nonsense and eventually the criteria is changed (the ALARACT about this was published in 2008). By that time I am in a different unit and the S1 does nothing with my paperwork. Finally in 2011 I get promoted into a different unit and the one shop there puts my packet forward and I finally get my CMB awarded-6 years later.

    • FatCircles0311 says:

      My CAR took 5 years to show up after the action. That was 3 years after I EAS’d too. I’m not even sure it’s entered on my records either, because it certainly wasn’t on my DD214, but it’s on the USMC CAR/HMA database.

      Military awards…..

      • Green Thumb says:

        I think that thing happens a lot to a lot of folks.

        I generally just look at what they do have, type of service, MOS and general disposition.

        It frequently tells the tale, so to speak.

  9. LostBoys says:

    I’ve heard from a lot of Marine 03XX (Infantry types) that would like their own badge like the Army, though none could rationalize their want much further than, ‘We’re grunts and our life sucks so give us a break.’
    As an artillery guy who deployed as infantry I always felt this confounding; if the CAR is closely guarded-not awarded for ‘attendance’-it should be enough.

    • FatCircles0311 says:

      “if the CAR is closely guarded-not awarded for ‘attendance’-it should be enough.”

      Depends on the command. If you’re a Marine you should know this. Just like any other award command desecration applies. Case in point my command not submitting my name or the dozens of other NCO’s that EAS’d while on deployment in Iraq for a rightfully deserved CAR, because fuck those NCO’s that chose to EAS and weren’t on the returning rooster of names that was submitted.

      After stupid shit like that my eyes opened to how petty and stupid Marine Corps awarding can be.

      • Hondo says:

        It ain’t just the USMC, FatCircles. I’ve seen soldiers go home from theater with a CAB – and a MSM vice a Bronze Star.

        Every one of the services can be (and IMO is at times) chickensh!t and plays games with awards.

        • FatCircles0311 says:

          Well that’s sad to hear. Service members deserve better than be to dishonored official by blue falcons.

  10. PtolemyInEgypt says:

    CAB was originally going to be awarded to just those armor/scout, field artillery, combat engineer, etc. (read: combat arms branches/MOS) but there was such a hue and cry from all other branches that everyone became eligible. There was also discussion about whether it would be earned for xx “combat patrols/ops” regardless of direct/indirect fire contact or not, but that evolved as well.

    I have one…earned multiple times over, and ironically- saw more direct fire combat as a PAO going into fun places like the Dora neighborhood in Baghdad than ever I did when I first earned it in an armor/19A billet on my 1st OIF tour in Diyala Province in 05-06.

    Criteria is criteria…if the Army wants to adjust that and there is enough support behind it, then they can do so. Diminishing the award seems kind of pointless. Are there questionable CABs and CIBs out there? Sure. But I/you can’t do anything about that, and I’m not about to waste a second more of my grey matter worrying about that. I know what I did and that’s good enough for me.

  11. PtolemyInEgypt says:

    Also- I have zero issue with the CAB being open to everyone else…don’t want to make it seem like I had a problem with the decision to open the aperture. There are plenty of deserving folks in the combat support and service support branches.

  12. LebbenB says:

    Getting my EIB was harder than getting my CIB.

    • Green Thumb says:

      Roger that.

    • Green Thumb says:

      Maybe they should start testing for an Expert Action Badge?

      I can already hear the groaning: Fuck that, my back hurts, my third grandmother died, why do I have to go to the field, fuck-fuck games, I have a yeast infection, I do not want to get wet, can I have leave…NOOOOOOOO!

      • 68W58 says:

        It’ll happen eventually and some hard chargers will get it, but a lot will be “voluntold” to try for it. I attempted the EFMB in April 2001 as a volunteer (didn’t get it), but a lot of the guys out there were made to attend by their command (it’s supposed to be voluntary). The first event in the testing is a written test and a lot of those guys made pretty patterns on the answer sheet so they could go home.

        • Green Thumb says:

          I have been around EFMB testing as in one of my old units, they made EIB guys either participate or assist. Not necessarily in Cadre roles per se, in support and logistics.

          Anyway, we went through some of the testing on a practice basis.

          That is some tough stuff.

          Great and tough training. I would recommend that it be instituted on/in lower unit levels.

  13. FatCircles0311 says:

    Must be nice.

    Most Marine Corps awards are a joke, even the CAR.

  14. Joe Williams says:

    Here is a promblem I have been rasslin with,3 years ago I recieved a CAR from Records without orders. I cannot decide to add it to my shadow box or not. I was a helo crew chief so the other airwingers know why I defend the Combat Flight wings. I was on helo recovry crew also,sometimes Mr. Charles resented us recovering Marine aircraft. What do the members of TAH think I should do, Display or not ? Joe

    • 68W58 says:

      Interesting-have you considered trying to get your elected representative to help you get the orders? If you could get the orders that would resolve your dilemma.

    • Hondo says:

      Joe: what 68W58 suggests certainly couldn’t hurt. If you still have contact with any of those guys, I’d ask them to write you a witness statement. Then I’d also consider contacting the BCNR.

  15. Fen says:

    It seems very subjective. My Marine unit was up north in Baderra Somolia during Operation Restore Hope. We took sniper fire every night (turret watch in LAV-25s). No one got a CAR for that, and quite frankly I don’t think what we endured is the same as your standard battlefield engagement. But some guys out on ship did, and they never set foot in country.

    There was some scuttlebutt about a retroactive awarding of the CIB, but I haven’t bothered to check.

    • Hondo says:

      If the action was prior to 18 Sep 2001, no dice. Per AR 600-8-22, the CAB is only retroactive back to actions occurring on/after 18 Sep 2001.

      If it happened after 18 Sep 2001, the HRC web site should have the procedure to submit for a retroactive award. You’ll almost certainly need 2 witness statements, though.

  16. Fen says:

    /edit – should be “retroactive awarding of the CAR”, not CIB.

  17. Smitty says:

    My deployment was in 04, before the CAB was authorized, but when we returned to the states and we’re back in BDUs instead of DCUs, I wore my EIB on my BDUs rather then my CIB. The biggest reason for this was the squad leader we got 2 weeks before we redeployed. He never was in any fire fight nor even saw an IED. A week before we redeployed a few motor rounds hit the far side of our FOB and my new squad leader some how weaseled his way into someone putting him in for a CIB. He was so proud of that thing and he never did shit. Seems everyone that wanted a CIB could get one, but ya can’t fake your EIB

  18. cannoncocker says:

    As an artilleryman with a CAB, I personally feel no need to give a song and dance on what happened that got me a CAB. I earned it doing my damn job, and I am very proud of that. Get over it.

  19. CWO5USMC says:

    As a non-combat arms guy (I’m a communicator), I’ve never been awarded a CAR and have some thoughts on how f@cked up the USMC awards process is and what qualifies someone for an award…but while serving on an Army led MITT in Iraq in 2008, I got the orders for award of the CAB from 3rd ID due to actions while on a convoy. I know I can never wear it in uniform nor can I have it put into my OQR, but damned if that thing isn’t going into my shadow box when I retire. It reminds me of a really good deployment and the steller soldiers I served with….although sometimes I wear it under the flap of my cammie top along with my GySgt chevron..the rank I was before being seduced by the dark side… just my little side story about my CAB.

  20. Just an Old Dog says:

    Pretty old argument. I had an original copy of Bill Mauldin’s Book “Up Front”. This was a book that consisted of cartoons Mauldin had drawn for the Stars and Stripes newpaper in Europe. He also had a paragraph or two explaining some of the reasoning behind the cartoons. The Main characters of the strips were Willie and Joe, two front line infantrymen.
    In One strip there was a drawing of a Medic standing in a pay clerks tent. The Clerk was pretty well kept and sitting back, feet propped up sporting a CIB. He was telling the Medic “Ya don’t get combat pay ’cause you don’t fight…. quit wiggling your fingers at me”.
    The medic was dirty and haggard, apparentluy straight from the front lines. He was wigging his fingers at the clerk through bullet holes in his helmet.
    Some things never change.

    • 68W58 says:

      I love that book. When I was little my grandfather (a WWII infantryman) would give it to me to read-probably because it was the only book in his house that had cartoons. There is a passage in there where he talks about the medic going out after the wounded and how no one would blame him if he stayed put, but he always goes, that is great stuff. I’ve got a paperback copy in my office somewhere.

    • GDContractor says:

      Seems to be a lot of those cartoons here:


  21. Bobo says:

    A couple of NSTIW instances of badge integrity.

    1. I was in a meeting in Afghanistan with the O6 commanders from the various regions briefing then MG Cone on ops in their areas. The commander for RC North, a qualified Ranger with a Ranger BN combat patch, starting bitching that his guys were going out the gate every day with their “war faces” on but weren’t getting shot at, so they weren’t getting CIBs. He wanted Cone to decrease the approval standard so his guys could get CIBs. Cone started his reply with “far be it for an Armor guy to uphold the integrity of the CIB, but…”

    2. Same deployment, one of our non-combat arms 1SGs decides that he wants to make a run somewhere and takes a two HMMWV convoy out. They get to their destination and notice a chip in the windshield of the lead HMMWV. Since it was the “damaged” vehicle was in front, and the chip couldn’t have been caused by a lead vehicle tossing up road trash, they must have come into contact and not known it. 8 CABs approved for the convoy.

    3. My Army CG is about to rotate back home without cool bling. He decides to go out and do a farewell tour of his subordinate FOBs with some Marine escorts. They get to one FOB and are told that the bad guys are setting up an ambush along one of the routes. The CG rallies the troops and off they go to kill bad guys. Before they get to the ambush, they hear some small arms fire from an undetermined position. They high tail it to the next RP without firing a shot and do an equipment and personnel check. No damage, no wounds. The CG puts his patrol in for CABs, which are approved, but the Marines and Navy guys don’t get squat because the “contact” didn’t meet CAR requirements.

    4. Newly arrived O6 TF commander and his entourage go to the 16th anniversary of the end of Soviet-backed rule in Afghanistan where there is an attempt on Karzi’s life. The closest that any of them are to the attack is in the stadium, yet as soon as they get back they instruct the J1 to start the CIB paperwork. All approved.

    So, bitch all you want about the integrity of the combat badges, there are instances of all of them being given out for BS.

    • drc says:

      For me to get my CAR I had to actually return fire. I was put in for an IED attack on three occasions and it was turned down.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      You’re preching to the choir, Bobo, I’ve seen more than a few “Free IB’s” myself!!

  22. Enigma4you says:

    Um Great Article Adam, Great Debate following it.

    What I know about Army Badges can be written with a crayon inside a matchbook.

  23. rgr1480 says:

    Wish I had either one. All I have is the “CIB with Blank Adapter” — the Expert Infantryman Badge.

    I like the idea of the CAB, but whomever approved the design it ought to be repremanded and sent out to pasture!!! Its features — especially the grenade — are not distinguishable a few feet away.

    I think the Germans had a great “General Assault Badge” for non-infantry troops engaged in combat: the crossed bayonet and pototo-masher surmounted by an eagle, all within a wreath. Now, I’ve heard the CAB borrowed the German elements using modern US design; dunno if that is correct. HOWEVER … the old M-1905 bayonet ought to have been used (the modern one is a POS). Perhaps two bayonets crossed in saltire, forming an “X”.

    Here’s the 1957 version of the German “General Assault Badge,” authorized for wear [minus the illegal symbol] by Bundeswehr who earned it during WWII:



    • Hondo says:

      Agree with you about the CAB’s design.

    • LebbenB says:

      Nothing wrong with an EIB. As I said earlier, I worked harder to get the EIB than I did for my CIB.

      Interesting bit of trivia about the two badges: The hammer on the EIB’s musket is cocked. The hammer on the CIB’s musket has fallen.

  24. Menoth says:

    Many of these responses are just part of the myriad reasons I’ll never wear my CAB.

  25. 3/17 Air Cav says:

    The only war I know is Vietnam. My feelings are that anyone serving as a 11B, who went outside the wire searching for the little fellas, deserves a CIB.