History of the Combat Infantryman Badge
The Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) is an award of the United States Army which is presented to those officers, warrant officers and enlisted soldiers, in the grade of Colonel and below, who participate in active ground combat while assigned as a member of an infantry or Special Forces unit, brigade or smaller size, during any period subsequent to December 6, 1941. It was created with the primary goal of recognizing the sacrifices of the infantrymen who were disproportionately likely to be killed or wounded during World War II.
The Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) and the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) were establishedby Section I, War Department Circular 269, dated October 27, 1943:
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.
This circular also stated that, “only one of these badges will be worn at one time” and that “the Combat Infantryman Badge is the highest award.”
Award of the CIB was officially authorized by an executive order dated November 15, 1943. It was made retroactive to December 6, 1941.
By Act of Congress approved on June 10, 1944, all soldiers, except officers, awarded the CIB were entitled to an additional $10 per month. Army regulations issued during World War II never prescribed a specific period of time an Infantryman had to serve in combat to be eligible for the CIB.
In 1947, a policy was implemented that authorized the retroactive award of the Bronze Star to soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman Badge during World War II. The basis for doing this was that the CIB was awarded only to soldiers who had borne combat duties befitting the Bronze Star Medal and also that both awards required a recommendation by the commander and a citation in orders.
Work to establish the CIB was initiated by General Marshall, who had been prompted by Medal of Honor recipient Major Charles W. Davis’ observation 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.”
The following is a history of the CIB. The CIB was established by the War Department on 27 October 1943. Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair, then the Army Ground Forces commanding general, was instrumental in its creation. He originally recommended that it be called the “fighter badge.” The CIB was designed to enhance morale and the prestige of the “Queen of Battle.” Then Secretary of War Henry Stinson said, “It is high time we recognize in a personal way the skill and heroism of the American infantry.”
Army Regulation 600-8-22; 11 December 2006
Section II, Combat and Special Skill Badges
8–6. Combat Infantryman Badge (pages 98 – 101)
a. For award of the CIB a Soldier must meet the following three requirements:
(1) Be an infantryman satisfactorily performing infantry duties.
(2) Assigned to an infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat.
(3) Actively participate in such ground combat. Campaign or battle credit alone is not sufficient for award of the CIB.
b. The specific eligibility criteria for the CIB require that
(1) 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 (MOS) 18B, 18E, 18F, and 18Z (less Special Forces medical sergeant) accrues from 20 December 1989. Retroactive awards of the CIB to Special Forces personnel are not authorized prior to 20 December 1989.
(2) 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. For example, personnel possessing an infantry MOS in a rifle squad of a cavalry platoon in a 98 AR 600–8–22 • 11 December 2006 cavalry troop would be eligible for award of the CIB. Battle or campaign participation credit alone is not sufficient; the unit must have been in active ground combat with the enemy during the period.
(3) 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.
(4) Awards will not be made to general officers or to members of headquarters companies of units larger in size than brigade.
(5) On or after 18 September 2001—
(a) A Soldier must be an Army infantry or special forces (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.
(b) 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.
(c) Soldiers possessing MOS of 18D (Special Force 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 was 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.
(d) Those Soldiers possessing MOS of 18D who qualify for award of the CMB from 18 September 2001 to 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 Solder must submit a request through the chain of command to USAHRC, ATTN:
AHRC–PDO–PA, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332–0471 for conversion of the CMB to the CIB.
(e) 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.
c. The CIB is authorized for award for the following qualifying wars, conflicts, and operations:
(1) World War II (7 December 1941 to 3 September 1945).
(2) The Korean War (27 June 1950 to 27 July 1953).
(3) Republic of Vietnam Conflict (2 March 1961 to 28 March 1973), combined with qualifying service in
Laos (19 April 1961 to 6 October 1962).
(4) Dominican Republic (28 April 1965 to 1 September 1966).
(5) Korea on the DMZ (4 January 1969 to 31 March 1994).
(6) El Salvador (1 January 1981 to 1 February 1992).
(7) Grenada (23 October to 21 November 1983).
(8) Joint Security Area, Panmunjom, Korea (23 November 1984).
(9) Panama (20 December 1989 to 31 January 1990).
(10) Southwest Asia Conflict (17 January to 11 April 1991).
(11) Somalia (5 June 1992 to 31 March 1994).
(12) Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, 5 December 2001 to a date to be determined).
(13) Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom, 19 March 2003 to a date to be determined).
d. The special provision authorized for the War on Terrorism is listed in this paragraph. The CIB may be awarded to recognize those U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces Soldiers embedded in formed Afghan National Army or Iraqi infantry/special force units, or Iraqi specialized Infantry type units, of brigade, regimental or smaller size, or assigned as advisors to a foreign infantry/special forces comparable to the above infantry units, as tactical advisors, trainers or performing liaison duties, during the time that the supported infantry/special force unit engages in active ground combat, to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires. Qualified Soldiers must have been personally present and participated in the combat operations.
e. The special provisions authorized for the Vietnam Conflict, Laos, and Korea on the DMZ are outlined below.
(1) 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.
(2) In Laos from 19 April 1961 to 6 October 1962, a Soldier must have been—
(a) Assigned as 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) or (b), above.
(3) 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.
f. Second and third awards of the CIB are indicated by superimposing 1 and 2 stars respectively, centered at the top of the badge between the points of the oak wreath. To date, a separate award of the CIB has been authorized for qualified Soldiers in the following qualifying periods:
(1) World War II (7 December 1941 to 3 September 1945)
(2) The Korean Conflict (27 June 1950 to 27 July 1953).
(3) 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.
(4) War on Terrorism (Afghanistan, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM) and (Iraq, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM).
g. Subsequent awards of the CIB is not authorized for the same qualifying period, as outlined above. The CIB may be awarded by the following individuals:
(1) Current awards. These awards may be awarded by USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC–PDO–PA and any commander delegated authority by the Secretary of the Army during wartime.
(2) Retroactive awards of the CIB and Combat Medical Badge. These awards may be awarded by USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC–PDO–PA to active duty Soldiers and Reserve Component Soldiers. Applications for retroactive award of the CIB and CMB will be forwarded through command channels to USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC–PDO–PA, 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 and CMB are authorized for time periods specified above to fully qualified individuals. Such awards will not be made except where evidence of injustice is presented.
h. The following is a history of the CIB. The CIB was established by the War Department on 27 October 1943. Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair, then the Army Ground Forces commanding general, was instrumental in its creation. He originally recommended that it be called the “fighter badge.” The CIB was designed to enhance morale and the prestige of the “Queen of Battle.” Then Secretary of War Henry Stinson said, “It is high time we recognize in a personal way the skill and heroism of the American infantry.”
(1) Originally, the Regimental Commander was the lowest level at which the CIB could be approved and its award was retroactive to 7 December 1941. There was a separate provision for badge holders to receive a $10 per month pay stipend, which was rescinded in 1948. Several factors led to the creation of the CIB, some of the most prominent factors are as follows:
(a) The need for large numbers of well-trained infantry to bring about a successful conclusion to the war and the already critical shortage of infantrymen.
(b) Of all Soldiers, it was recognized that the infantryman continuously operated under the worst conditions and performed a mission that was not assigned to any other Soldier or unit.
(c) The infantry, a small portion of the total Armed Forces, was suffering the most casualties while receiving the least public recognition.
(d) General Marwill’s well known affinity for the ground forces Soldier and, in particular, the infantryman. All these factors led to the establishment of the CIB, an award that would provide special recognition of the unique role of the Army infantryman, the only Soldier whose daily mission is to close with and destroy the enemy and to seize and hold terrain. The badge was intended as an inducement for individuals to join the infantry while serving as a morale booster for infantrymen serving in every theater.
(2) In developing the CIB, the War Department did not dismiss out of hand or ignore the contributions of other branches. Their vital contributions to the overall war effort were certainly noted, but it was decided that other awards and decorations were sufficient to recognize their contributions. From the beginning, Army leaders have taken care to retain the badge for the unique purpose for which it was established and to prevent the adoption of any other badge which would lower its prestige. At the close of World War II, our largest war in which the armor and artillery played key roles in the ground campaigns, a review was conducted of the CIB criteria with consideration being given to creating either additional badges or authorizing the badge to cavalry and armor units. The review noted that any change in policy would detract from the prestige of the badge.
(3) The definition of requirement to be “engaged in active ground combat” has generated much dialogue over the years as to the original intent of the CIB. The 1943 War Department Circular required infantrymen to demonstrate “satisfactory performance of duty in action against the enemy.” The operative words “in action” connoted actual combat. A War Department determination in October 1944 specified that “action against the enemy” for purposes of award of the CIB was to be interpreted as “ground combat against enemy ground forces.”
(4) In 1948, the regulation governing badges stipulated that “battle participation credit is not sufficient; the unit must have been in contact with the enemy.” This clearly indicated that an exchange of hostile fire or equivalent personal exposure was the intent of the Army leadership.
(5) In 1963 and 1965 HQDA messages to the senior Army commander in the Southeast Asia theater of operations authorized award of the CIB to otherwise qualified personnel “provided they are personally present and under fire.” U.S. Army Vietnam regulations went so far as to require documentation of the type and intensity of enemy fire encountered by the Soldier. The intended requirement to be “personally present and under fire” has not changed.