Guide Note -- May 7, 2005: The Army has decided to scrap the Close Combat Badge described in the below article, and -- instead -- approved a new badge, called the "Combat Action Badge," which can be awarded to soldiers in any MOS or unit. See related story.
WASHINGTON -- A new badge recognizing troops who have been in combat will debut in March, Lt. Gen. F. L. Hagenbeck, Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, said today.
The Close Combat Badge will recognize specific Armor, Cavalry, Field Artillery and Combat Engineer Soldiers, colonel and below, serving as infantry in units purposefully reorganized to routinely conduct infantry-unique close combat missions and personally present and under fire while conducting those types of missions.
The way the badge will look has not yet been determined. Although it will begin to be awarded in March, Hagenbeck said it will probably be autumn before the badge appears in clothing sales stores.
Major generals will have the award authority on the new badge.
Hagenbeck said the badge is designed to recognize the efforts of Soldiers in units which have been reorganized and used as infantry, and will be retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001.
This notion came from commanders in the field. They said, very specifically, that weve reorganized, for example, field artillery units and created infantry-like formations. Theyre mirroring what our 11B infantry do, they should get the CIB, or we need to create a Close Combat Badge, Hagenbeck said.
He said the Army convened a panel of retired Soldiers, including several generals, to determine who would qualify for such a badge, and whether it was needed.
There was a lot of discussion, but there was consensus that these Soldiers ought to be recognized, he said.
The general said the goal was to recognize these Soldiers without any impact on the 60-year tradition of the CIB.
Its a highly emotional issue, Hagenbeck said. In the past, you could, for example, have a forward artillery observer attached to an infantry unit. Hes on the same patrols and he is getting shot at by the same enemies, but hes not eligible for the CIB, Hagenbeck said. He wouldnt be eligible for the CCB, either. Its strictly for those people who weve pulled out of their tanks and away from their guns and used to perform infantry missions.
He said the combat patch worn by all Soldiers in a combat zone will remain the visual symbol for Soldiers who have served in a combat theater. The CCB is awarded only to those who meet its specific criteria.
Everyone is in danger on todays 360-degree battlefield, Hagenbeck said. This recognizes those deliberately planned offensive combat missions designed to close with the enemy and destroy or capture them.