CIB. Noun. The Combat Infantryman Badge. This little doohickey here:

This little award is given to infantryman when they are proven by TEDIOUSLY WRITTEN SWORN STATEMENTS to have been engaged in combat, and maneuvered and strangled somebody and cut someone's balls off with a bayonet, and a slew of other requirements. In earlier OIF rotations, CIB was a blanket award, so you could get it without actually being in a firefight.

It's different now, with the requirements tightened up. I've been put in for it atleast once, and I know for sure that it's been kicked back once. Now, wouldn't ones first reaction to being denied this over-glorified piece of plastic be a little upset?


The majority of the US population has no idea what the CIB is, nor do they care. Until reading this post, my immediate family had no idea what the damn thing was.

Let's just break this bad bitch down right now, and rip the "glory" and all that horseshit away from this joke of an award. Get some rubber gloves and a plastic hairnet.

The CIB is hyped up the entire time you're in the army. They make it sound like a rite of passage, getting your combat badge, your proof that you are an honest to God hardass American, shitting bullets at the enemy and forcing an Democratic Moneyshot onto the face of any random Third World Country, in sprays of automatic fire.

Hurray! The CIB makes you look like a badass, a REAL soldier, it shows you've DONE THINGS!

Yes, on the surface it's all pretty and wonderful. But here's the truth about the CIB. A handful of my friends got theirs by getting killed. CIB or the non-infantry version, the Combat Action Badge. Either way, get killed by a stranger in someone else's country, and there's your glorious fucking medal. Lot of good it did you huh? Wear it proudly, son.

Well what if it isn't YOU getting killed? Then it's some other poor sucker on the receiving end. You're getting your pat on the back and your handjob for being a stone cold hardass John Wayne Motherfucker, and someone else isn't going home for dinner, ever. Spare me the semantics about whether or not the said sucker deserved it or not, because that's beyond the point.

To summon the Satanic Avatar of the CIB, shit has to hit the fan, and someone is very likely to die. Now who still wants their badge? I won't wear mine. In fact, now I understand why some grizzled vet types wear their EIB instead of CIB. The Expert Infantryman Badge looks the same, minus the wreath around it. And minus the body count. You earn the EIB by busting your ass, three days of trials. Fuck up more than once, and sorry, we'll see you next year. But more importantly, you won't get it posthumously.

"But Suspect, the CIB is a good thing, especially if you're looking to make a career out of the army."

Well I'm NOT. I never thought of the army as a career, not for a minute, not even in the beginning. I knew from the start that this was four years ON LOAN to my Uncle Sam, the guy with all the problems.

Furthermore, I do not need to involve myself in horse and pony shows where my character is judged based on whether or not I've got a Motherfuckers Got Killed Badge. Pretentious horseshit, and you can fuck right off with that.

If my CIB goes through, it'll go straight to a storage trunk. Or a trash can. Or to the first sad-sap New Guy who asks me about Iraq or combat or any of those erection inducing death machine components. I'll pin the motherfucker to his face and congratulate him, point to his buddy, and tell him "McCormick over here is dead for the rest of the day. Put him on a stretcher and carry him to his barracks room. Enjoy your CIB."

I find it so pitiful and disgusting that the CIB is looked at in such high esteem, now that I've thought about what lurks underneath the surface. Completely pathetic.

Thanks for your life, son! Here's a medal! Bright N Shiny! We'll have it engraved on your tombstone, for all those civilians to look at! You know, the ones who'll say, "What the fuck is that rifle with the shit wrapped around it? Looks dumb."

Let someone try to interfere with me going home, THEN I'll get that CIB hands down. Just a by-product though. Safety, security, going home. S'all I care about.

CIB is just a still frame from a snuff film. That's what I really think.


  1. Anonymous said...
    You always explain things best man. Sad thing is you probably speak for most of the soldiers in the army, you are the only one man enough to write it.


    mamaworecombatboots said...
    My father was a medic on an LST (Landing Ship Tank--think Saving Private Ryan) in WWII--4+ years of hell--he was at Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinowa. He was in a kamikazi attack that sank the two ships on either side of him. If all that wasn't enough, he was caught in a typhoon that sank about 27 ships. I have his old uniform. He made E-6in 4 years. Do you know how many medals he has?

    Three, total.

    As usual, excellent writing.
    Red said...
    You always do know just how to describe it. I wonder how many soldiers feel the same way...a lot, I would guess. Just come home in one piece. That's the greatest award that your friends and family could ever witness.
    WmEarl said...
    If you earned it you can wear it, but you know it is cheap, CIBs were given to postal couriers going into the no longer in Combat Grenada (way before your time). My father came back from WWII with a bronze arrowhead on his Campaign ribbon, that impressed his brother and both of them knew being home was better than medals.
    hooch said...
    I just took 3 soldiers in transfer cases off of a C-17 today in Dover Delaware. Definitely the heaviest moment so far of my military experience...it was an honor to have done it though. Definitely does put a new spin on a CIB.
    Anonymous said...
    I am "enjoying" your blog, though I'm sure enjoy isn't the right word for it. It's amazing that you can articulate your experience! If anything can save your head, that will. Anger is a good, clean reaction to hypocrisy. All the best, and take it as easy as possible.
    themorethingschange... said...
    you take me back to my husband's experience in VN, where he said "you get an ArCom just for showing up."...

    in Korea my dad earned a DFC he never actually saw--he doesn't care, I have the paperwork and I care...

    so, don't throw your awards/medals away, some day your son/daughter (who will see them differently than you) may want to frame them

    I look at my dad's 3 wars worth of medals and remember they are part of what made him who he is...
    themorethingschange said...
    PS: HOUSE TO HOUSE arrived yesterday--gotta love Amazon.com!
    Corky Alexander said...
    I have linked your blog to mine. I appreciate your honesty. I never served and never would. You are a solitary voice amid all the patriotic hooplah here.
    Anonymous said...
    The CIB means a lot to Paul and me. Your Great Uncle Horace got a Silver Star for doing things that a Medal of Honor recipient did. It's all relative, but we are SO PROUD OF YOU, and we know what you've done to EARN more than most have...

    Horace would have said the same thing you do...

    it doesn't change the fact that you have balls of steel.

    Anonymous said...
    Suspect, For a long time your CIB will only serve to remind you of the friends you lost and the terror you experienced. Bring it home and put it in a trunk or desk drawer. In 10 years (or 20), it will be important to you. Probably won't buy you a cup of coffee or a beer and you will be selective about who you talk to about it, but it will mean a lot to you.
    Come home safe,
    Uncle Paul
    T said...
    OMG. I love your blog. You're so honest and open and I have complete respect for that. I found you through the Sandbox blog. I couldn't stop reading your posts... My man's over there too. Sucks. But he doesn't want to talk about it for reasons you probably understand. Maybe that's another reason I dig your blog. I'm trying to understand, you know? Hang in there!
    Army Sergeant said...
    I don't know if you've read him, but you should look up what General Smedley Butler had to say about medals.

    And how absolutely worthless they are.

    I'm linking you, by the way-you sound like you've got your head on straight. If you'd rather I not do it due to my affiliations, I'll take it off. Just let me know.
    unhappycamper said...
    War is a Racket --> http://www.wanttoknow.info/warisaracket

    My chapter of the VFP is named after him.
    AirborneParaInf82 said...
    You are correct in ways... most people don't know what a CIB is or probably even give a shit about it. Even those that have it don't always care that its there for decorations sake.

    But myself along with others I know, view it as a representation of something that we did that will be with us for the rest of our lives. Its war. Death is a part of war, and as much as it sucks, its reality. If you over think the cost of "earning" this award, then your heads not where it should be. You don't go out to earn the award. You go out to do your job and CIB is just something that comes with the territory.

    Just worry about doing whats right to get yourself and your guys to come home. Thats really all that matters, and if they want to give you some award for it, you always have the right to turn it down if your that much against it. Despite everything I've heard anyone ever say, I have yet to see someone turn down an award.
    wakingdaydreams said...
    I think the person who would understand your point best is Uncle Robert; he keeps all of his medals locked in a trunk. He lived with us for a bit when he got home, and he showed them once to mom and I- he would (could) only talk about a couple of them. That was the only time we could ever get anything out of him about Iraq. Now, when you ask him, all he answers about it is "it was boring."
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