Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., wants to make eligibility for the Combat Action Badge award retroactive to Dec. 7, 1941. The CAB was created in recognition of the dangers of fighting a new kind of war with a new kind of Army. Congress should leave the CAB alone.
The Combat Action Badge is awarded to non-Infantry soldiers who engage the enemy in combat. At least, that is what the requirement is supposed to be. The award is authorized for action on or after 18 September 2001. The award is the center of controversy within the Army ranks. Some feel that only Infantry or, possibly, Combat Arms soldiers should be awarded for involvement in combat.
The editorial by the Military Times correctly identifies the key factor that warrants the establishment of the Combat Action Badge. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom put forth a very different battle space than previous wars. In Iraq today, enemy combatants will not engage Infantry or Combat Arms units because they know they cannot defeat them and they will likely be captured or die in the engagement. Rather, enemy combatants find ways to engage what are traditionally less prepared, less trained personnel. They are typically easier to hit, produce higher casualty rates and are less likely to counter-strike with significant effectiveness. Soldiers other than Combat Arms are significantly more likely to find themselves engaged in a firefight in today’s conflicts. Therefore, it stands to reason that they should be recognized for having stood that test, just as the Infantry has recognized its members who are battle proven with the Combat Infantry Badge.
The CAB reflects the very different nature of the conflicts we are engaged in today. The CAB is not about some aspect of war that has always been present, like the Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor. The CAB awards the performance of soldiers in unique aspect of modern combat. Congress needs to leave the CAB alone.
[posted with ecto]
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