Morale: Marines Expand Use of Combat Action Ribbon


April 4, 2006: Recognizing the impact of new forms of warfare, the U.S. Marine Corps has authorized the award of the Combat Action Ribbon for those who came under attack with IEDs (roadside bombs). This change is retroactive to October 7, 2001. Many Marines had applied for the Combat Action Ribbon because they came under fire via IEDs, but these requests have, until now, been turned down. All of these previous applications will be reviewed again by May 1, 2006.

The Combat Action Ribbon (CAR) was introduced in 1969, to identify, like the army's Combat Infantry Badge (CIB), someone who had been in combat. While the CIB is only available to infantry, and only those who have been in a combat zone for at least 30 days, the CAR is available to all marines, sailors and coast guardsmen who are in ground or naval combat, and perform satisfactorily. That last element is left to the discretion of the applicant's commanding officer. While CARs have been awarded to those who come under artillery or mortar fire, IEDs were not, at first, considered as adequate to earn an IED. But since the IED is a principal enemy weapon, and troops spend a lot of time, effort and nervous tension dealing with them, the brass finally changed their minds. A separate award is available to aircrew, to designate those who have participated in combat.


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