Combat Action Badge

Combat Action Badge
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
68,347 in OIF (as of August 30, 2010)
24,445 in OEF (as of February 28, 2011)
1,120 in OND (as of February 28, 2011)
Next (higher) None
Equivalent (Group 1 badges)
Next (lower) (Group 2 badges)
Related USN/USMC Combat Action Ribbon
USAF Combat Action Medal

The Combat Action Badge (or CAB) is a military badge worn in the U.S. Army. The emblem features both an M9 bayonet and M67 grenade. The Combat Action Badge may be awarded to any soldier 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. Award is not limited by one's branch of service or military occupational specialty, but is only authorized for wear on U.S. Army uniforms. 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, two stars for the third award and three stars for the fourth award. In comparison to the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), the CAB has a silver rectangle backing rather than blue, and the CAB is 1 inch shorter in length than the CIB.



Throughout the Vietnam War and afterward, troops serving in combat engineer and armored units clamored 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 (MOS) 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 the Spring of 2004 in which Major Matthew De Pirro asserts 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 police soldier 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.[1]

The CAB creation was approved by the U.S. Army on May 2, 2005, and can be retroactively awarded to soldiers who engaged in combat after September 18, 2001. [2] On June 29, 2005, General Peter J. Schoomaker awarded the Army's new Combat Action Badge for the first time to Sergeants April Pashley, Michael Buyas, Manuel J Montano, Timothy Gustafson and Sean Steans. [3] Over eighty thousand badges have been awarded since the creation of the award.[4]

The criteria for the badge does not specify the nature of the hostile fire that a soldier must receive to be awarded. In practice, though, 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. It should also be noted that endless memos have been written by commanders to deter the CAB from being awarded, leading to indirect fire usually being discounted unless it results in the death of the soldier.

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

See also


  1. ^ Secretary Rumsfeld Townhall Meeting in Kandahar, Afghanistan
  2. ^ Combat Action Badge
  3. ^ Combat Action Badge first awarded
  4. ^ Combat Action Badge

External links

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