The Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) is the U.S. Army combat service recognition decoration awarded to soldiers—enlisted men and officers (commissioned and warrant) holding colonel rank or below, who personally fought in active ground combat while an assigned member of either an infantry or a Special Forces unit, of brigade size or smaller, any time after 6 December 1941. The CIB and its non-combat analogue, the infantry skill-recognition Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) were simultaneously created during World War II as primary recognition of the combat service and sacrifices of the infantrymen who would likely be wounded or killed in numbers disproportionate to those of soldiers from the Army’s other service branches.
During the Second World War (1941–1945), the U.S. Army had difficulty in recruiting Infantry branch volunteers, unlike its other, more glamorous branches (e.g. the Tank Corps, the Army Air Forces). To increase recruitment and raise its esprit de corps, General Lesley J. McNair, the Army Ground Forces commander, conceived of two ideas—(i) a large, recognizable combat service badge, for the infantry ranks, and (ii) replacing the title Private with the title Fighter, thereby, raising the soldier’s morale when addressing “Private Jones” as “Fighter Jones”. The badge idea was accepted, the title idea rejected; however, the General insisted upon the Fighter Badge title.
“The present war has demonstrated the importance of highly-proficient, tough, hard, and aggressive infantry, which can be obtained only by developing a high degree of individual all-around proficiency on the part of every infantryman. As a means of attaining the high standards desired and to foster esprit de corps in infantry units; the Expert Infantryman and the Combat Infantryman badges are established for infantry personnel.”
Moreover, War Department Circular 269 stipulated: “. . . only one of these badges will be worn at one time and the Combat Infantryman badge is the highest award; the awarding of the CIB was officially authorized with an executive order dated 15 November 1943; later, on 10 June 1944, the U.S. Congress approved an extra ten dollars in monthly pay to every infantryman awarded the CIB — excepting commissioned officers. The WWII regulations did not formally prescribe a specific combat service period establishing the infantryman’s eligibility for being awarded a Combat Infantryman Badge, thus, in 1947, the U.S. Government implemented a policy authorizing the retroactive awarding of the Bronze Star Medal to World War II veteran soldiers who had been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, because the CIB was awarded only to soldiers who had borne combat duties befitting the recognition conferred by a Bronze Star Medal. Both awards required a commander’s recommendation and a citation in the pertinent orders. General Marshall initiated this after Medal of Honor-recipient Major Charles W. Davis noted to him that: It would be wonderful, if someone could design a badge for every infantryman who faces the enemy, every day and every night, with so little recognition.”[headline h=”3″]Award eligibility[/headline]
As defined by The United States Army Institute of Heraldry
a. 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.
b. The specific eligibility criteria for the CIB require that:[numbered_list]
- A Soldier must be an Army Infantry or Special Forces officer (SSI 11 or 18) in the grade of Colonel or below, or an Army Enlisted Soldier or Warrant Officer with an Infantry or Special Forces MOS, who subsequent to 6 December 1941 has satisfactorily performed duty while assigned or attached as a member of an Infantry, Ranger or Special Forces unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size during any period such unit was engaged in active ground combat. Eligibility for Special Forces personnel in Military Occupational Specialties accrues from 20 December 1989. Retroactive awards for Special Forces personnel are not authorized prior to 20 December 1989.
- A recipient must be personally present and under hostile fire while serving in an assigned Infantry or Special Forces primary duty, in a unit actively engaged in ground combat with the enemy. The unit in question can be of any size smaller than brigade.
- Personnel with other than an Infantry or Special Forces MOS are not eligible, regardless of the circumstances. The Infantry or Special Forces SSI or MOS does not necessarily have to be the Soldier’s primary specialty, as long as the Soldier has been properly trained in infantry or special forces tactics, possesses the appropriate skill code, and is serving in that specialty when engaged in active ground combat as described above. Commanders are not authorized to make any exceptions to this policy.
- Awards will not be made to General Officers or to members of headquarters companies of units larger in size than brigade.
- On or after 18 September 2001:
- A Soldier must be an Army Infantry or special forces officer (SSI 11 or 18) in the grade of Colonel or below, or an Army Enlisted Soldier or Warrant Officer with an Infantry or Special Forces MOS, who has satisfactorily performed duty while assigned or attached as a member of an infantry, ranger or special forces unit of brigade, regimental or smaller size during any period such unit was engaged in active ground combat, to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires.
- A Soldier must be personally present and under fire while serving in an assigned Infantry or Special Forces primary duty, in a unit engaged in active ground combat to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires. Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs), Vehicle-Borne IEDS (VBIEDS) and the like are direct fire weapons. While no fixed, qualifying distance from an explosion of these devices can be established, commanders should consider the entirety of the combat situation when considering award of the CIB.
- Soldiers possessing MOS of 18D (Special Forces Medical Sergeant) who satisfactorily perform Special Forces duties while assigned or attached to a Special Forces unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size during any period such unit is engaged in active ground combat may be awarded the CIB. These Soldiers must have been personally present and engaged in active ground combat, to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires. Retroactive awards under these criteria are not authorized for service prior to 18 September 2001.
- Those Soldiers possessing MOS of 18D who qualify for award of the Combat Medical Badge (CMB) from 18 September 2001 to the 3 June 2005, will remain qualified for the badge. Upon request any such soldier may be awarded the CIB instead of the CMB. In such instances, the Soldier must submit a request through the chain of command to the CG, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471 for conversion of the CMB to the CIB.
- Service members from the other U.S. Armed Forces and foreign military (Infantry and Special Forces equivalents) assigned or attached as a member of a U.S. Army Infantry or Special Forces unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size may be considered for award of the CIB. All basic requirements as listed above must be met. Retroactive awards under these criteria are not authorized for service prior to 18 September 2001.
- World War II (7 December 1941 to 3 September 1945).
- The Korean War (27 June 1950 to 27 July 1953).
- Republic of Vietnam Conflict (2 March 1961 to 28 March 1973), combined with qualifying service in Laos (19 April 1961 to 6 October 1962).
- Dominican Republic (28 April 1965 to 1 September 1966).
- Korea on the DMZ (4 January 1969 to 31 March 1994).
- El Salvador (1 January 1981 to 1 February 1992).
- Grenada (23 October to 21 November 1983).
- Joint Security Area, Panmunjom, Korea (23 November 1984).
- Panama (20 December 1989 to 31 January 1990).
- Southwest Asia Conflict (17 January to 11 April 1991).
- Somalia (5 June 1992 to 31 March 1994).
- Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, 5 December 2001 to a date to be determined).
- Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom, 19 March 2003 to a date to be determined).
e. The special provisions authorized for the Vietnam Conflict, Laos, and Korea on the DMZ are outlined below.[numbered_list]
- During the Vietnam Conflict, any officer whose basic branch is other than Infantry who, under appropriate orders, has commanded a line Infantry (other than a headquarters unit) unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size for at least 30 consecutive days is deemed to have been detailed in Infantry and is eligible for award of the CIB notwithstanding absence of a written directive detailing that Soldier in the Infantry, provided all other requirements for the award have been met. Orders directing the officer to assume command will be confirmed in writing at the earliest practicable date.
(a) In addition, any Officer, Warrant Officer, or Enlisted Soldier whose branch is other than Infantry, who under appropriate orders was assigned to advise a unit listed in (c) and (d) below or was assigned as a member of a White Star Mobile Training Team or a member of MAAG-Laos as indicated in (2)(a) and (b) below will be eligible for award of the CIB provided all other requirements have been met.
(b) After 1 December 1967, for service in the Republic of Vietnam, Noncommissioned Officers serving as Command Sergeants Major of infantry Battalions and brigades for periods of at least 30 consecutive days in a combat zone are eligible for award of the CIB provided all other requirements have been met.
(c) Subsequent to 1 March 1961, a Soldier must have been:
1. Assigned as advisor to an Infantry unit, Ranger unit, Infantry-type unit of the civil guard of regimental or smaller size, and/or Infantry-type unit of the self-defense corps unit of regimental or smaller size of the Vietnamese government during any period such unit was engaged in actual ground combat.
2. Assigned as advisor of an irregular force comparable to the above Infantry units under similar conditions.
3. Personally present and under fire while serving in an assigned primary duty as a member of a tactical advisory team while the unit participated in ground combat.
(d) Subsequent to 24 May 1965, to qualify for the CIB, personnel serving in U.S. units must meet the requirements of b(1), above. Individuals who performed liaison duties with the Royal Thai Army or the Army of the Republic of Korea combat units in Vietnam are eligible for award of the badge provided they meet all other requirements.
- In Laos from 19 April 1961 to 6 October 1962, a Soldier must have been:
(a) Assigned as a member of a White Star Mobile Training Team while the team was attached to or working with a unit of regimental (groupment mobile) or smaller size of Forces Armee du Royaume (FAR) , or with irregular type forces of regimental or smaller size.
(b) A member of MAAG-Laos assigned as an advisor to a region or zone of FAR, or while serving with irregular type forces of regimental or smaller size.
(c) Personally under hostile fire while assigned as specified in (a) and (b) above.
- In Korea on the DMZ. The special requirements for award of the CIB for service in the Republic of Korea are rescinded. Army veterans and service members who served in Korea on or after 28 July 1953 and meet the criteria for award of the CIB outlined in paragraph 8-6c, may submit an application (to include supporting documentation) for award of the CIB to USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471. Retroactive awards under these criteria are not authorized for service prior to 29 July 1953.
- World War II (7 December 1941 to 3 September 1945).
- The Korean Conflict (27 June 1950 to 27 July 1953).
- The Republic of Vietnam Conflict. Service in the Republic of Vietnam Conflict (2 March 1961 to 28 March 1973) combined with qualifying service in Laos; Dominican Republic; Korea on the DMZ; El Salvador; Grenada; Joint Security Area, Panmunjom, Korea; Panama; Southwest Asia Conflict; and Somalia, regardless of whether a Soldier has served one or multiple tours in any or all of these areas. The Republic of Vietnam Conflict Era officially terminated on 10 March 1995.
- War on Terrorism (Afghanistan, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM) and (Iraq, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM).
- Current awards. These awards may be awarded by USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC-PDP-A and Army commanders in the grade of 0-6 and above.
- Retroactive awards of the CIB. These awards may be awarded by USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC-PDP-A to active duty Soldiers and Reserve Component Soldiers. Applications for retroactive award will be forwarded through command channels to USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC-PDP-A, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471. Retirees and veterans should address their application to the National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100. Retroactive award of the CIB is authorized for time periods specified above to fully qualified individuals. Such awards will not be made except where evidence of injustice is presented.