WASHINGTON — The Army’s new combat badge is designed to honor non-infantry soldiers performing infantry work, not simply those who find themselves in combat situations, the service’s chief of personnel said Friday.

“While everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan is in harm’s way, there is a difference between combat operations such as patrols fighting off attacks and deliberately planned offensive combat missions,” said Lt. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck.

“The [new badge] is the right thing to do to recognize those soldiers in units purposefully reorganized to serve as infantry and conducting infantry-unique missions.”

Criteria for the Close Combat Badge, unveiled last week, will mirror that of the Army’s 62-year-old Combat Infantry Badge, awarded to infantry units and special forces who engage in active ground combat.

Hagenbeck said the CCB was created after generals in the war on terror complained that “de facto infantry” — non-infantry units that have been reorganized for that type of combat missions — were not being properly recognized for their work.

The Close Combat Badge will be awarded to soldiers with military occupational specialties in armor, the cavalry, combat engineering, and field artillery. Officers must have a branch or specialty recognized in Army regulations as “having a high probability to routinely engage in direct combat.”

But other soldiers have complained publicly that other forces caught in ambushes and firefights in Iraq have faced the same combat situations and deserve the honor as well.

On Friday, Hagenbeck called their service commendable, but said the idea behind the combat badges is to recognize those with an infantry mission.

“The CCB is for an infantry-like job,” he said. “It’s an emotional issue. The CIB has been around for more than 60 years, a lot of discussion went into this. The consensus was that these soldiers needed to be recognized for this job.”

Officials plan to make the honor retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, and want to begin awarding the new badge in March, though the actual badge will not be available until the fall.

Hagenbeck said the design for the badge has not been finalized, but plans call for the CIB’s rifle to be replaced with a bayonet.

Under current Army rules, all soldiers are allowed to wear their unit patch on their right soldier as a combat patch after serving 30 days in an authorized combat theater.

Hagenbeck said officials also plan to honor non-Army troops serving with CCB and CIB eligible units with those badges as well, the first time non-Army fighters would receive such an honor.

That could include both U.S. forces and foreign nationals embedded with Army combat units, Hagenbeck said.

Who is eligible?:

Colonel or below for officers; all enlisted soldiers are eligible.Enlisted soldiers must have a Military Occupational Specialty in Armor or Cavalry (CMF 19), Artillery (CMF 13), or Combat Engineer (CMF 12).Officers must have a branch or specialty officially recognized in Army Regulation 611-1 as “having a high probability to routinely engage in direct combat.”Soldiers must be:

Assigned or attached to an Army brigade or smaller unit that is purposely organized to routinely conduct close combat operations and engage in direct combat, in accordance with existing Army rules and policy.Under fire while engaged in active ground combat, to moving into contact and destroy the enemy with direct fire.Battle or campaign participation is not sufficient to qualify for this award; the unit must have been in active ground combat.Effective date:

Sept. 11, 2001 (retroactive).

— Source: U.S. Army

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