Army Combat Action Badge Overview

The Army Combat Action Badge, or CAB is a relatively new award that has been approved only since 2005.  Similar in nature to the CIB (Combat Infantry Badge), the CAB is intended for Soldiers who “personally engage, or are engaged by the enemy” in areas where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized.

The idea of the CAB, however, is not that new.  Since 1943, when the CIB was introduced, other branches have been arguing for their very own badges.  For a long time, Soldiers often wore their own “make shift” awards that were unofficial and worn in violation of the uniform standards.  From 1943, the years in Vietnam up until the Global War on Terrorism, the Army was never able to gain enough momentum to have a badge to recognize Soldiers in contact that were not Infantrymen.  Proudly, the Armor community began to re-ignite the issue as we pushed into Iraq.

army combat action badgeMany tank crewmen saw direct-fire contact from their tanks and then began to kick in doors alongside the Infantry.  Still, they were not giving recognition.  Initially, the CAB was known as the Close Combat Badge, or CCB.  The original intent behind this award was to recognize non-Infantry Soldiers who were doing an Infantry duty in combat.  That all changed in 2005 when MPs in Afghanistan began to question why MPs were unable to receive the CCB despite the nature of combat they were experiencing.  Finally, in 2005 General Schoomaker authorized the Combat Action Badge.

Now, something that I misunderstood about the CAB, and I believe many others do as well, is that the CAB is an award that is Branch and MOS irrelevant.  The primary requirement to receive a CAB, as outlined in HQDA LTR 600-05-1, states that the Soldier simply not be assigned/attached to a unit that would qualify the Soldier for a CIB.  However, this seems extremely contrary to what I have seen across the force.  For example, if you are a 19K and serve in an Infantry Battalion, you will most likely receive a CAB rather than a CIB.  According to the Chief of Staff’s (General Peter Schoomaker) intent it seems like as long as you assigned/attached to a CIB qualified unit, you should get a CIB.  Perhaps someone could confirm or deny this?

The bayonet and grenade badge is worn IAW AR 670-1…basically the same standard for how a CIB is worn.  The CAB provides special recognition, and rightfully so, for those who engage or are engaged by the enemy.  The CAB may be awarded by an Commander who is delegated authority by the Secretary of the Army during wartime.  As a 19A, the CAB is a dearly held recognition and, personally, sets us apart from the Infantry.

If You Like Our Content, Please Share It:

8 thoughts on “Army Combat Action Badge Overview”

  1. I believe the idea behind this award is a good one. The system needs to take a hard look on who is able to receive it. It is my opinion that if any soldier has to face bullets, mortars, roadside bombs, etc… they should be eligible to receive this award. I feel they should just pull the MOS idea and award this to infantry and non-infantry alike. It is sad that someone who has an infantry MOS, but isn’t truly doing infantry material, but is still getting shot at and having to defend themselves cannot receive this honor.

    C’mon, some people high up need to pull their heads out.

  2. I don’t have access to AR 600-8-22, but I’m fairly certain the award criteria for the CIB are that the awardee hold an 11 (infantry) or 18 (Special Forces) MOS or functional area as well as being part of an infantry unit. While deployed to Iraq in 2004-05 I was attached to an armor company as part of a mechanized company team. All the 11Bs received the CIB and all the 19Ks received CABs. Even though we were attached to an armor company in an armor battalion, we were still part of an infantry brigade.

    1. This is correct. CIB is only for 11/18 series COL and below.
      https://www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/Awards%20and%20Decorations%20Branch%20-%20Combat%20Infantry%20Badge%20CIB

      There is criteria and FAQ on that page. The BLUF is you have to be 11/18 series and assigned to an infantry/special forces unit – even if you are attached out.
      on the flip side…

      “Can non-Infantry/Special Forces officers be awarded the CIB if they are performing an Infantry mission, especially if they graduated from Ranger school, underwent training with an Infantry platoon in preparation for combat, and serve as an Infantry platoon leader, or another 11A coded job, during a CIB qualifying engagement?

      No. These Soldiers would be eligible to earn the CAB. The Office of Infantry Proponency has defined being “properly trained in infantry or Special Forces tactics, [possessing] the appropriate skill code” as completing a school that results in the awarding of Army Occupation Code (AOC) 11A or 18A or an enlisted Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 11B, 11C, 18B, 18C, 18D, 18E, etc. Ranger school is not an AOC/MOS producing school and is not an “Infantry” only school. It does not fulfill the requirements outlined in the regulation.”

      Seems pretty simple and straightforward to me. But, people will always want what they can’t have.

  3. A REMF award. I drove a truck up and down a highway, so that makes me infantry. This award should be pulled.

  4. You are correct, Chuck, that if a soldier is attached to an infantry battalion, regardless of MOS, they will be awarded the CIB if qualifed. Clearly, there is some confusion about the award and when it is appropriate award the CAB rather than the CIB. The US Army Human Resources Command Website at https://www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/Combat%20Action%20Badge%20CAB states this: “Soldier must NOT be assigned or attached to a unit that would qualify the Soldier for the CIB/CMB. For example, an 11B assigned to Corps staff is eligible for award of the CAB. However, an 11B assigned to an infantry battalion is not eligible for award of the CAB.” It sounds like leadership needs to make some time to revisit the information and clarify this for their troops.

    1. The key word in your post is…IF QUALIFIED….which means, 11/18 series, nothing more and nothing less. Doesn’t matter if you’re a logistics officer attached to an infantry battalion..unless you have previously earned the AOC in the 11 or 18 series, you won’t get a CIB. Being assigned to an infantry unit is not the only qualification, if you read the regs on CIBs. You have to hold the AOC/MOS as well.

      11B can earn either CAB or CIB depending on what type of unit they are assigned to.

      the 11B assigned to an infantry battalion would not earn a CAB, as you stated above…because he is assigned to an infantry battalion. Therefore, he would earn a CIB.

      This is very clearcut and simple, and I don’t think it needs to be revisited. If you aren’t an 11/18 series, you shouldn’t even be worrying about if you can get a CIB. If you are in either of those series, you need to look at what type of unit you are assigned to. pretty simple.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *