Combat skill badges are awarded to denote proficiency in performance of duties under hazardous conditions and circumstances of extraordinary hardship.

Combat Infantryman Badge

Combat Medical Badge

Combat Action Badge

History of the CIB

The Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) was established by the War Department on 27 October 1943.  LTG Lesley J. McNair, then the Army Ground Forces commanding general, was instrumental in its creation.  He originally recommended that it be called the "fighter badge."  The CIB was designed to enhance morale and the prestige of the "Queen of Battle."  Then Secretary of War Henry Stinson said, "It is high time we recognize in a personal way the skill and heroism of the American infantry."

Originally, the Regimental Commander was the lowest level at which the CIB could be approved and its award was retroactive to 7 December 1941.  There was a separate provision for badge holders to receive a $10 per month pay stipend, which was rescinded in 1948.  Several factors led to the creation of the CIB, some of the most prominent factors are as follows:
(1) The need for large numbers of well-trained infantry to bring about a successful conclusion to the war and the already critical shortage of infantrymen.
(2) Of all soldiers, it was recognized that the infantryman continuously operated under the worst conditions and performed a mission which was not assigned to any other soldier or unit.
(3) The infantry, a small portion of the total Armed Forces, was suffering the most casualties while receiving the least public recognition.
(4) GEN Marshall's well known affinity for the ground forces soldier and, in particular, the infantryman.  All these factors led to the establishment of the CIB, an award which would provide special recognition of the unique role of the American infantryman, the only soldier whose daily mission is to close with and destroy the enemy and to seize and hold terrain.  The badge was intended as an inducement for individuals to join the infantry while serving as a morale booster for infantrymen serving in every theater.

In developing the CIB, the War Department did not dismiss out of hand or ignore the contributions of other branches.  Their vital contributions to the overall war effort were certainly noted, but it was decided that other awards and decorations were sufficient to recognize their contributions.

There are basically three requirements for award of the CIB.  The soldier must be an infantryman satisfactorily performing infantry duties, must be assigned to an infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat, and must actively participate in such ground combat.  Campaign or battle credit alone is not sufficient for award of the CIB.

The definition or requirement to be "engaged in active ground combat" has generated much dialogue over the years as to the original intent of the CIB.  The 1943 War Department Circular required infantrymen to demonstrate "satisfactory performance of duty in action against the enemy."  The operative words "in action" connoted actual combat.  In 1944, the War Department determined that "action against the enemy: for purposes of the award of the CIB was to be interpreted as "ground combat against enemy ground forces."  In 1948, the regulation governing badges further stipulated that "battle participation credit is not sufficient; the unit must have been in contact with the enemy."  This clearly indicated that an exchange of hostile fire or equivalent personal exposure was the intent of the Army leadership.  U.S. Army Vietnam regulations went so far as to require documentation of the type and intensity of enemy fire encountered by the soldier.  The intended requirement to be "personally present under fire" has not changed.

Retroactive awards of the CIB may be made to fully qualified individuals.  Such awards will not be made except where evidence of injustice is presented.  Active duty soldiers forward their applications through command channels and Reserve Component soldiers, retirees, and veterans should address their application to the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63132-5200

History of the CMB

Originally established as the Medical Badge, the Combat Medical Badge (CMB) was created by the War Department on 1 March 1945.  It could be awarded to officers, warrant officers, and enlisted men of the Medical Department assigned or attached to the medical detachment of infantry regiments, infantry battalions, and elements thereof designated as infantry in tables of organization or tables of organization and equipment.  Its evolution stemmed from a requirement to recognize medical aidmen who shared the same hazards and hardships of ground combat on a daily basis with the infantry soldier.  Though established almost a year and a half after the CIB, it could be awarded retroactively to 7 December 1941 to fully qualified personnel. 

Like the CIB, the Regimental Commander was the lowest level at which the CMB could be approved and it also carried with it a separate provision for enlisted badge holders to receive a $10 per month pay stipend.

The CMB was created as a "companion" badge to the CIB with criteria for its award intended to parallel that of the CIB.  There was never any intention to award the CMB to all medical personnel who serve in a combat zone or imminent danger area, that is a division-level medical company supporting a maneuver brigade.

As with the CIB, the infantry unit to which the medical personnel are assigned or attached must engage the enemy in active ground combat.  Since inception, the intent of the Department of the Army regarding this requirement has been that medical personnel must  be personally present and under fire in order to be eligible for the awarding of the badge.  So stringent was this requirement during the Vietnam era that recommending officials were required to document the place (in six digit coordinates), time, type, and intensity of fire to which the proposed recipient was exposed.

Over the years, there has been some confusion concerning the phrase "...in direct support of an infantry unit...".  The CMB is intended for, and awarded to, those medical personnel who accompany the infantryman into combat.  The Army has never approved of deviations from this purpose and its restrictive criteria.  During the World War II era, medical support for infantry units in combat was provided by the medical detachments and companies of battalions and regiments.  These medical personnel and units were termed direct support.  This concept lasted until Vietnam.  Today, medical personnel are assigned as organic personnel to infantry companies and are regarded as participants as opposed to being categorized as those providing direct medical support.  Medical personnel other than those medics organic to infantry units may qualify only if they serve as medical personnel accompanying infantrymen.  Conceivably, this could occur if an infantry unit lost all of its medics and as a temporary or permanent measure medical personnel were attached to an infantry unit but remained assigned to a hospital or other non-infantry unit.

In 1989, Special Forces personnel possessing MOS 18D were authorized award of the CMB and in 1991 those medics assigned or attached to armor and ground cavalry units of brigade or smaller size were authorized to receive the CMB.  Providing they were personally present and under fire while the unit was engaged in actual ground combat.  According to DA Letter 600-05-1, dated 3 June 2005, the CMB is no longer authorized for Special Forces personnel possessing MOS 18D.  They are now authorized to be awarded the CIB if they meet all requirements.

Retroactive awards of the CMB may be made to fully qualified individuals.  Such awards will not be made except where evidence of injustice is presented.  Active duty soldiers forward their applications through command channels and Reserve Component soldiers, retirees, and veterans should address their application to the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63132-5200


History of the CAB

The Combat Action Badge (CAB) was established by the Department of the Army on 2 May 2005.  In keeping with the spirit of the Warrior Ethos, the CAB provides special recognition to Soldiers who personally engage the enemy, or are engaged by the enemy during combat operations. The bayonet and grenade are associated with active combat. The oak wreath symbolizes strength and loyalty.

The CAB may be awarded by any commander delegated authority by the Secretary of the Army during wartime or the CG, U.S. Army Human Resources Command and will be announced in permanent orders.

The requirements for award of the CAB are Branch and MOS immaterial. Assignment to a Combat Arms unit or a unit organized to conduct close or offensive combat operations, or performing offensive combat operations is not required to qualify for the CAB. However, it is not intended to award all soldiers who serve in a combat zone or imminent danger area.

Specific eligibility requirements for the CAB are:
(1) The CAB 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.
(4) The Soldier must not be assigned/attached to a unit that would qualify the soldier for the CIB/CMB.

The CAB may be awarded to the members of the other U.S. Armed Forces and foreign soldiers assigned to a U.S. Army unit, provided they meet the above criteria.

Award of the CAB is authorized from 18 September 2001 to a date to be determined. Award for qualifying service in any previous conflict is not authorized.

Only one CAB may be awarded during a qualifying period. Soldiers may be awarded the CIB, CMB and CAB for the same qualifying period, provided the criteria for each badge is met.  However, subsequent awards of the same badge within the same qualifying period are not authorized.

Retroactive awards for the CAB are not authorized for service prior to 18 September 2001, applications (to include supporting documentation) for retroactive awards of the CAB will be forwarded through the first two star general in the chain of command to CG, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471.