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.
Many 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.