Combat Infantry Badge: 8 Things You Should Know

I remember the first time I saw one of these badges. I asked my Uncle what it meant as I looked at the badge that was a blue color, had a long musket similar to what was used in the Revolutionary War, and a wreath behind it. Uncle Kenny looked at me and said, “Greg, that is a Combat Infantry Badge that I earned while I fought in Vietnam.”

I smiled and gave him a hug. Mom had told me not to ask him too many questions about the war, because he had a difficult time when he first came home from 2 tours. Remembering his award, I have performed some research, and in today’s post I am going to provide you with 8 things you should know about the Combat Infantry Badge.

1: Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair and the War Department – Lt. General McNair was the commanding General of the Army ground forces in World War II. He noticed that morale was quite low, and that very few were willing to join the Army’s infantry. He recommended that a special badge should be given to those who were willing to face the enemy head on as an infantry soldier. The War Department agreed, and on October 27th, 1943 the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) was created.

2: How the Combat Infantry Badge must be displayed – On the Class A Army uniform coat, the badge is to be worn 1/4 inch above any service ribbons over the left breast pocket, or any other uniforms it is authorized for. The badge is deemed wearable on the Army Combat Uniform.

3: No higher award – I know that someone will probably debate this, but there is no higher award than the Combat Infantry Badge. You may say the Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor, and in some ways you are correct, but in all actuality, I am correct. The CIB is a Special Skill Group 1 Badge, and there is no higher badges in that type. You essentially cannot compare the Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor with the CIB.

4: Who is eligible for the Combat Infantry Badge? To be eligible for this badge, a Soldier must be an active Army enlisted/officer in either an infantry or a special forces MOS. The rank of the Soldier must be Colonel or below and he/she must meet these 3 requirements:

    1. Must satisfactorily perform infantry duties and responsibilities.

    2. Must be assigned to an infantry unit which is engaged in active combat.

    3. Must have engaged the enemy in ground fighting.

5: The wars or conflicts that Soldiers can attain the Combat Infantry Badge. The badge was developed during World War II. The wars or conflicts that a soldier can attain the Combat Infantry Badge were, or are:

    • World War II

    • Korea

    • Vietnam

    • Dominican Republic

    • El Salvador

    • Grenada

    • Panama

    • Southwest Asia

    • Somalia

    • Afghanistan

    • Iraq

6: Special provisions. The only one of the above conflicts allows Soldiers who were in an MOS other than infantry the ability to wear the Combat Infantry Badge was Vietnam. There were many Soldiers who had other than infantry MOS designation who still had to fight actively as ground Soldiers. A special provision was made stating that any officer, warrant officer or enlisted soldier who under orders engaged in ground combat with the enemy is eligible to receive the Combat Infantry Badge. Vietnam was a conflict that had many Soldiers no matter their MOS involved in ground combat. It was only right that the War Department made this special provision.

7: 3 time CIB achievers. It is an honor that very few have attained. Major General David E. Grange, Jr recognized that and as a 3 time Combat Infantry Badge winner himself, he set out to recognize any who have gained that honor. At the National Infantry Museum in Ft Benning, Georgia is a collection of the 324 soldiers who have attained this status. Those who have received it were in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. You can view them by following the following links:

8: EIB or CIB? The EIB stands for the Expert Infantyman’s Badge. You know now what the CIB stands for, so which one is the better badge to have. Both badges have similar designs, but the CIB has the wreath, whereas the EIB doesn’t. The fact is: the Soldier who wears the CIB stood through much adversity and faced death. The EIB is earned by testing right on base. Yes, the EIB is a great honor, but more honor goes to the Soldier who wears the CIB. They earned theirs fighting the enemy. If you have an EIB, you still have a right to be proud. It takes a special breed of Soldier to earn it.

Final Words

The Combat Infantry Badge is an honor. Do you have one? Please tell us where you earned it. No matter if you have a CIB or not, if you have been in the war zone and risked your life to serve our country, you have a right to be proud. To all of you, thank you for helping keep America safe from forces bent on destroying her.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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