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ARLINGTON, Va. — Soldiers aren’t the only potential recipients of the Army’s new Combat Action Badge: any servicemember may qualify for the award, as long as he or she was assigned to an Army unit in a combat zone when bullets, bombs or mortars began to fly.

According to detailed criteria and issuing instructions for the Combat Action Badge, or CAB, issued by the Army earlier this month, the device “may be awarded to members of the other U.S. Armed Forces, and foreign soldiers assigned to a U.S. Army unit, provided they meet the above criteria.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker approved the CAB on May 2 as a way to recognize any active, Reserve, or Guard soldier “personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement,” according to initial criteria issued by Army officials May 4.

But Army officials also included a clause in the criteria recognizing a relatively new phenomenon: members of other services who are stepping in to fill shortages in the Army’s supply of certain occupations such as truck drivers, military police, and even interrogators.

The Air Force, for example, has stepped in to help fill the voids, providing hundreds of airmen who volunteered to learn a new skill and temporarily “go green” as assigned members of Army units.

Prior to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the only servicemembers routinely assigned to other services’ units were officers and support staff associated with high-level, joint task force headquarters and special operations.

Servicemembers who are still deployed with the Army sponsor should consult their immediate Army supervisor for help in applying for the badge.

Servicemembers who believe they are eligible for the CAB, but are no longer assigned to an Army unit, should consult their personnel offices for advice on how to file an application for the award.


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