Combat Action Ribbon
|Combat Action Ribbon|
Top: Navy Combat Action Ribbon
Bottom: Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon
|Awarded by the Department of the Navy|
and Department of Homeland Security
|Type||Service ribbon (No medal; decoration)|
|Eligibility||Satisfactory performance under enemy fire while actively participating in a ground or maritime engagement.|
|Awarded for||Active participation in ground or surface combat on or after December 7, 1941.|
|Established||Navy Combat Action Ribbon (U.S. Department of the Navy): February 17, 1969|
Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon (U.S. Department of Homeland Security): July 16, 2008
|First awarded||Navy Combat Action Ribbon: 1969 (retroactive to March 1961)|
|Next (higher)||Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal|
Coast Guard Commandant's Letter of Commendation
|Equivalent||Air Force Combat Action Medal|
|Next (lower)||Presidential Unit Citation|
|Related||The Army Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Medical Badge, and Combat Action Badge.|
The Combat Action Ribbon (colloquially "CAR"), is a United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard military decoration awarded to those U.S. naval military members "who have actively participated in ground or surface combat."
Sailors, marines, and coast guardsmen in clandestine, stealth, or special operations, where their ability to return hostile fire is curtailed, are deemed eligible for consideration of the award.
The Combat Action Ribbon is awarded to members of the Navy and Marine Corps in the grade of USN/USCG captain and below and USMC colonel and below.
Air combat does not meet the criteria for the Combat Action Ribbon, Naval Aviators, Naval Flight Officers and enlisted Naval Aircrewman typically being recognized for combat via the Air Medal, although this award requires far more combat exposure over a prolonged period.
The Navy Combat Action Ribbon was authorized on 17 February 1969. The Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon was authorized on 16 July 2008 and may be awarded to members of the Coast Guard in the grade of captain and below, "who have actively participated in ground or maritime combat."
The Navy Combat Action Ribbon is retroactive to 7 December 1941 and the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon is retroactive to 1 May 1975.
A Combat Action Ribbon is not automatic; after consideration of specified criteria the member's service may award the CAR. For a military member to be awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, evidence must establish the individual sailor or marine physically engaged the enemy, was under hostile fire, or was physically attacked by the enemy. The Member's enemy engagement must have been with honor to the United States and to the satisfaction of the service.
Evidence must show a service member was in actual combat, not merely present in the area where combat is occurring; presence in a combat zone does not qualify the member for the award, the award will be considered only for actual direct combat with the enemy.
The Combat Action Ribbon is a ribbon-only award in contrast to military branches that award a badge or medal. Compare: The U.S. Army awards the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge, or Combat Medical Badge. A U.S. Air Force combat participant is awarded the Air Force Combat Action Medal (AFCAM).
The Combat Action Ribbon is awarded only to individual service members. The CAR cannot be awarded to a military unit, station, or group.
The Combat Action Ribbon is worn in order of precedence on a member's "ribbon rack" displayed on the left side of a service member's uniform. The outermost blue stripe is to the wearer's right. Only one Combat Action Ribbon is authorized. Additional combat action awards are signified with an appropriate 5⁄16 inch gold star attached to the CAR. In full dress uniform when medals are worn on the member's left side, the Combat Action Ribbon is worn on the right side of a member's uniform.
Combat Action Ribbon versions
The CAR is currently authorized with a U.S. Navy (to include the U.S. Marine Corps) and a U.S. Coast Guard version. The Navy version covers Navy and Marine Corps service members from when the CAR was established in 1969, and made retroactive from December 7, 1941 forward. Prior to year 2008, U.S. Coast Guard service members who were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon received the Navy CAR, this because in most conflicts and wars Coast Guard members eligible for the CAR operated with or under the U.S. Navy. Year 2009 forward, Coast Guard members who perform in combat are awarded the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon.
- Award inquiries
Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard veterans are advised to submit eligibility requests etc. to each of their respective branches in regard to the Navy Combat Action Ribbon or additional awards of this award.
The Navy Combat Action Ribbon ("CAR") was established during the Vietnam War by a Secretary of the Navy Notice, dated February 17, 1969 with retroactive award to March 1, 1961. The Navy CAR is awarded to members of the Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard (when operating under the control of the Navy) personnel with the grade of captain/colonel and below, who have actively participated in ground or surface combat.
Personnel who earn the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Badge, or Combat Action Medal while assigned to United States Army or United States Air Force units, or who earned such for prior service in said service branches may be authorized to wear the Combat Action Ribbon upon application to the Department of the Navy.
In January 2013, the awarding criteria were expanded to include dangerous exposure to IEDs, mines, and scatterable munitions, be it the detonation of such or direct action taken to disable, render safe, or destroy such, can be deemed eligible if detonated or specifically emplaced by the enemy. Previously it applied only to exposure to IEDs detonated by the enemy. Eligibility under this criterion is retroactive only to 7 October 2001.
Blanket lists of units and operations whose members or participants are deemed to be "in-combat", and thus potentially eligible, can be found in OPNAVNOTE 1650 (for specific units & ships) & in chapter 2, appendix E of recent SECNAVINST's (for specific operations & ships) though "Neither service in a combat area nor being awarded the Purple Heart Medal automatically makes a service member eligible" and specific sailors and Marines may receive the ribbon in recognition of individual actions or various minor operations.
In 2017, sailors from USS Nitze, USS Mason, USS Ponce, and USS San Antonio were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon after their ship was fired upon by rebels off the coast of Yemen in 2016, one of the few instances in the 21st century when navy sailors from a ship were awarded the ribbon. In 2005, the USS Kearsarge was awarded the ribbon as well.
Additional awards of the Navy CAR (Navy/Marine Corps) are denoted by 5⁄16 inch gold stars on the ribbon.
- World War II and Korean War
In October 1999, World War II and Korean War veterans became retroactively eligible for the Navy Combat Action Ribbon by Public Law 106-65 on October 5, 1999, which permitted the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) to award the Combat Action Ribbon to a member of the Navy or Marine Corps for participation in ground or surface combat during any period on or after December 7, 1941, and or before March 1, 1961, if the Secretary determines that the member has not been previously recognized in an appropriate manner for such participation. Two specific blocks of time were later designated by then SECNAV Danzig: Dec. 7, 1941—Apr. 14, 1946 (World War II) & June 25, 1950—July 27, 1954 (Korean War)
Coast Guard CAR
The Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon (CGCAR) was established by the approval of the Secretary of Homeland Security on July 16, 2008 in ALCOAST 361/08. The Coast Guard version of the CAR is awarded to members of the Coast Guard who have actively participated in a ground or maritime engagement. Satisfactory performance under fire with the enemy is required.
Criteria for the CGCAR also include personnel with direct exposure to the detonation of an improvised explosive device used by an enemy, and for personnel who serve in clandestine/special operations, who are restricted in their ability to return fire, where the risk of enemy fire was great.
The Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon is authorized for:
- Operation Allied Force (Kosovo)
- Operation Desert Storm
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
Other minor operations and specific actions are authorized the ribbon as determined by the Commandant of the Coast Guard. Only one award per operation is authorized.
Initially, all other similar military awards from other services were required to be converted to the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon in order to be worn on the Coast Guard uniform, but the policy was modified effective January 1, 2009 to allow wearing the Navy Combat Action Ribbon, Air Force Combat Action Medal, and Army Combat Infantry/Medical/Action Badge for service prior to May 1, 1975 and cannot be converted to the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon.
Additional awards of the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon are denoted by 5⁄16 inch gold stars on the ribbon.
In 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard began awarding a Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon (CGCAR) similar in design to the Navy Combat Action Ribbon. Prior to 2008, Coast Guard members earning a Combat Action Ribbon received the U.S. Navy CAR because in times of conflict and war the Coast Guard in combat areas typically operated with or under the U.S. Navy. For example, in the Vietnam War's Operation Market Time the U.S. Coast Guard had at any one time approximately 1,200 Coast Guard members participating in Operation Market Time. Those Coast Guard members in Vietnam who engaged in combat were awarded the U.S. Navy Combat Action Ribbon by the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam.
With its own Combat Action Ribbon, USCG members will now receive the Coast Guard CAR regardless if a member is operating in conjunction with or under the control of the U.S. Navy. Those USCG members awarded the U.S. Navy CAR prior to 2009 are authorized to continue wearing the Navy award despite the availability of the Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 16, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
- "Info" (PDF). media.defense.gov. 2017.
- "COMDTINST M1650.25E Medals and Awards Manual" (PDF). 15 August 2016. pp. 2–12, 2–13. Retrieved 24 February 2017.[permanent dead link]
- "MARADMIN 038/13". Archived from the original on January 31, 2016.
- Jamie McIntyre, CNN Washington Bureau. "CNN.com - Navy gives USS Cole crew awards - September 5, 2001". edition.cnn.com.
- Ziezulewicz, Geoff (November 3, 2017). "Four ship crews receive Combat Action Ribbon".
- Affairs, This story was written by Journalist 2nd Class Bretta Heath, USS Kearsarge Public. "Kearsarge Awarded Combat Action Ribbon".
- Pub.L. 106–65 Oct. 5, 1999, STAT.588, G, Sec.564, "Retroactive Award of the Navy Combat Action Ribbon"
- DOD Press Release, March 21, 2000, Retroactive Combat Action Ribbon "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved February 9, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2015
- Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon @ Foxfall medals  Retrieved May 13, 2015[better source needed]
- Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon – Official Coast Guard All Hands blog[dead link]