Posted on: Monday, August 14, 2006
Marines change Combat Action Ribbon criteria
By Tony Perry
Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO — To the outside world, it may seem but a bit of brightly colored ribbon. But to U.S. Marines, the Combat Action Ribbon is greatly prized as proof they were in the fight, rather than in the rear with the gear.
"It's a badge of honor," said attorney Paul Geitner, a former Marine. "A Marine can wear it on his chest, and he doesn't have to say a thing. The ribbon says it all."
The rules for awarding the ribbon, which also may be given to sailors and Coast Guard personnel, were written in an era when war meant firefights — unlike the Iraqi insurgency, which employs roadside bombs and mortars and hides among civilians.
So the commandant of the Marine Corps has changed the standards for awarding the Combat Action Ribbon. Troops who "render satisfactory performance under enemy fire" can receive the ribbon, even if no shots are fired in response.
"Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror represent a new type of battlefield," said Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commanding general of the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
Changing the criteria, he said, gives the Combat Action Ribbon "greater relevance for the type of combat in which Marines are currently engaged."
Sattler, who commanded Marines during the battle for Fallujah in late 2004, had asked Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee to review the Combat Action Ribbon.
"Marines were leaving (Iraq) after having participated in combat action and were not eligible because the criteria did not recognize the type of the threats we're seeing," said Lt. Col. Jim Taylor, leader of the Marine Corps' military awards section.
The first notice of the change came in March. Officers have until Jan. 1 to request that the ribbon be awarded to their troops retroactively.
So far, 85 Marines who previously had been rejected have received the Combat Action Ribbon under the new rules. The 85 were selected from 3,400 cases first submitted prior to the rule change.
The Combat Action Ribbon — with its gold, blue, and red stripes — was created in 1969, during the Vietnam War. In 1999, the award was made retroactive, extended to personnel who served in World War II and Korea. Coast Guard personnel are eligible when working under Navy direction.
In a message to Marines, the commandant said that while the criteria for the Combat Action Ribbon have changed, the aggressive virtues it is meant to recognize have not.
While all this is somewhat perplexing and I for one believe there are Government/DoD motives for this new definition in redefining ultimately what is a Veteran and who is entitled to what benefits. No different than the Army putting out a Combat Action Badge separate from the CIB. This after decades of resisting many forms of combat awards other than the CIB. One must remember on the books for years has been a CAR for the Department of the Army of which the Army had vehemently rejected. Even though the exact same scenarios existed in Vietnam for those without an MOS of 11BXX or 0311.
I will leave it to you and future government definitions of who qualifies for what as to whether these new rules and definitions have underlying budget motives.
I think, and I probably should quit doing that totally, with all the talk coming of the White House, the VA, the Disability Commission, government elected officials, etc as to redefining "what is a Veteran," then this all falls into place.
To me it lends itself to something along the line, unless you have a valor award or one of these new combat awards your service to the nation will be no different than a "civil service job" with no guaranteed or implied follow on of anything except for those that have met the new definitions and those that are career military and make their 20 years of retirement, even the latter may be in question as far as changes for cost cutting purposes.
The last six years there has been an ongoing debate to define "what is a Veteran" and to cut costs for supporting the Veterans of the Nation. Not only from the White House but leadership within the DoD/Pentagon officials such as the "infamous" Dr. David Chu with the reported and published statement of; The nation can no longer defend itself with the benefits paid to our Veterans.
Never mind the fact the Nation is about three rungs off of socialism for doing nothing for the nation.
Including the massive amount of fraud within these social programs or the fact the government has lost track of millions of taxpayer dollars each year within the different agencies and cannot find where the money went. No one is held accountable except the nations veterans who have more integrity than most of our fraudulent citizens and illegals alike.
Us old guys that are on the way out I guess we have no dog in the fight but lets not just roll over and think the nation and its elected officials are doing any of this; other than for government ulterior motives.
Veterans do not vote as one and they and their families are the most logical choice of government budget screwing and cost cutting.
You only have to look at previous Veterans Issues, Cover-ups, Scientific and Medical Fraud, Government mandated protocol and study changes as the evidence mounted against the government/DoD, etc to see how this Veteran's history has repeated itself time after time.
While our congress sends out "form letters" about how they support Veterans and their families when we broach these specific issues with our elected officials. With very few exceptions, they talk a good game but are absent without leave on any actions or direct responses to the questions or concerns, other than the form letter.
In other words you and your men and their families do not vote as one body therefore; just please go away.
Consider this specific point and the Marine leadership statements above by the Marine Corps' military awards section.
Those Khe Sanh and Hill Fight Marines, Navy, Army, and Air Force personnel that served during the longest running battle of the Vietnam War and maybe in the history of our Nations Warriors are still, 40 years after the fact, fighting to get their Combat Action Ribbon over years at a time.
Not only from the DoD but from the same congress that says "they support Veterans."
While these awards are a pride issue, it is much more than that with the present VA rules that these awards help the Veteran in his/her last fight with our government mandated VA budget control processes and procedures.
Time and future government actions will let us know if this is all for an ulterior government goal.