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, and the simultaneously created Expert Infantryman Badge were 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 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.
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.
According to a personal memoir on the web, 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."*
(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 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 nor to members of headquarters companies of units larger in size than brigade.
(1) To date, a separate award of the CIB has been authorized for qualified soldiers in any of five conflicts: World War II (7 December 1941 to 3 September 1945), the Korean Conflict (27 June 1950 to 27 July 1953), and the Vietnam Conflict. Service in the Republic of Vietnam conflict (after 1 March 1961) combined with qualifying service in Laos (19 April 1961 to 6 October 1962), the Dominican Republic (28 April 1965 to 1 September 1966), Korea on the DMZ (after 4 January 1969), Grenada (23 October to 21 November 1983), Panama (20 December 1989 to 31 January 1990), the Persian Gulf War (17 January to 11 April 1991), and the Global War on Terrorism Era (September 18th 2001, to a date to be determined) is recognized by one award only regardless of whether a soldier has served one or multiple tours in any or all of these areas. If a soldier has been awarded the CIB for service in any of the Vietnam era areas, that soldier is not eligible to earn the Combat Medical Badge.
(2) 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.
Special provisions--Republic of Vietnam
(1) 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.
(2) In addition, any officer, warrant officer, or enlisted man whose branch is other than infantry, who under appropriate orders was assigned to advise a unit listed in (4) and (5) below or was assigned as a member of a White Star Mobile Training Team or a member of MAAG-Laos as indicated in f(1) and (2) below will be eligible for award of the CIB provided all other requirements have been met.
(3) 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.
Subsequent to 1 March 1961, a soldier must have been:
(a) 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.
(b) Assigned as advisor of an irregular force comparable to the above infantry units under similar conditions.
(c) 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.
(5) Subsequent to 24 May 1965, to qualify for the CIB, personnel serving in U.S. units must meet the requirements of c(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.
Laos. From 19 April 1961 to 6 October 1962, a soldier must have been
(1) 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.
(2) 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.
(3) Personally under hostile fire while assigned as specified in (1) or (2) above.
Dominican Republic. From 28 April 1965 to 21 September 1966, the soldier must have met the criteria prescribed in b and c above.
Korea. Subsequent to 4 January 1969, a soldier must have--
(1) Served in the hostile fire area at least 60 days and been authorized hostile fire pay.
(2) Been assigned to an infantry unit of company or smaller size and must be an infantry officer in the grade of captain or lower. Warrant officers and enlisted men must possess an infantry MOS. In the case of an officer whose basic branch is other than infantry who, under appropriate orders, has commanded an infantry company or smaller size infantry unit for at least 30 days, the award may be made provided all the following requirements are met.
(3) Been engaged with the enemy in the hostile fire area or in active ground combat involving an exchange of small arms fire at least 5 times.
(4) Been recommended personally by each commander in the chain of command and approved at division level. If killed or wounded as a direct result of overt enemy action, he must be recommended personally by each commander in the chain of command and approved at division level. In the case of infantrymen killed by enemy action, the requirement for at least 5 engagements ((3) above) and the requirement for the incident to have taken place in the hostile fire area, including the 60-day requirement ((1) above), will be waived. In the case of individuals wounded, even though outside the hostile fire area, the 5 engagements requirement and the 60-day requirement may be waived when it can be clearly established that the wound was a direct result of overt hostile action.
(5) Been eligible for award of the CIB after 4 January 1969, for service in the Republic of Vietnam, as noncommissioned officers serving as Command Sergeants Major of infantry battalions and brigades for periods of at least 30 consecutive days in a combat zone.
Grenada (Operation URGENT FURY). From 25 October 1983 to 21 November 1983, the soldier must have met the criteria prescribed in b and c above.
Panama (Operation JUST CAUSE). From 20 December 1989 to 31 January 1990, the soldier must have met the criteria prescribed in b and c above. Special forces personnel (less the special forces medical sergeant) are eligible for the CIB effective 20 December 1989. Retroactive awards are not authorized.
Persian Gulf War (Operation DESERT STORM). From 17 January 1991 to 11 April 1991, the soldier must have met the criteria prescribed in b and c above. Retroactive awards are not authorized.
Global War On Terrorism Era (Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom). From 18 September 2001 a soldier must be an Army Infantry or special forces officer in the grade of colonel or below, or Army enlisted soldier or warrant officer with an infantry or special forces MOS, that satisfactorily performed duty while assigned or attached as a member of an infantry, Stryker, ranger or special forces unit of brigade, regiment, or smaller size, or an advisor in an equivalent coalition unit, during any period such unit was engaged in active ground combat, to close with and destroy the enemy with direct fires.
l. Who may award.
(1) Current awards. Current awards of the CIB may be awarded by the Secretary of the Army during wartime or the Commanding General, Army Human Resources Command. Effective 1, November 2006, Commanders delegated authority to award the CIB may further delegate badge award authority to Commanders in the grade of Brigadier general or above. Permanent orders are required.
(2) Retroactive awards. Retroactive awards of the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge and the Combat Medical Badge may be made to fully qualified individuals. Active duty and reserve component soldiers will forward their applications through command channels to U.S. Army Human Resources Command ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA, 200 Stoval Street Alexandria, VA 22332.
Veterans, Individual Ready Reserve members, members of other U.S. services and foreign military personnel should submit a written request directly to U.S. Army Human Resources Command ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA, 200 Stoval Street Alexandria, VA 22332.
In February 1951 the War Department authorized a 2nd award of the CIB for operations in the Korean War. At that time designs for up to an 8th award of the CIB had been created by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry. The 2nd through 4th awards were symbolized by 1 to 3 five pointed stars centered between the top of the oak leaves. The 5th through 8th award were to be gold colored rather than silver, with the 6th to 8th awards symbolized by 1 to 3 five pointed stars.
The Combat Infantryman Badge is easily one of the most recognizable Army badges and is considered a “badge of honor” in that those who are awarded the decoration have participated in direct combat with an enemy force. The badge is similar in appearance to the Expert Infantryman Badge which is a recognition of infantry skills, rather than combat participation.
See also: Military badges of the United States and 3 Time Recipients of the Combat Infantryman Badge