Morale: Air Force Ground Combat Badge


August 18, 2006: All the U.S. military services, except for the U.S. Air Force, have developed new decorations to recognize non-combat troops who have experienced combat on the ground. This is a result of the large number of non-combat troops who have been in combat because of the extensive attacks on convoys, and American bases, in Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq. Such attacks are not unique, there was quite a lot of action against base camps, and supply convoys, during the Vietnam war. Even during World War II, combat support troops often were told to grab their rifles and man the fighting line. This was particularly common in the Pacific.
But in Iraq, there have been weeks where the majority of casualties were among combat support troops. This was unheard of in past wars. So in recognition of that, there are now "Combat Badges" available for non-combat troops in the army, marines and navy. Now the air force is considering such an award. Airmen have seen a lot of action defending convoys and bases in Iraq, and even the pilots (normally the only "combat" troops in the air force) are in favor of a badge to recognize the air force role in ground combat. Some pilots would be eligible for this badge. Pilots serve on the ground as air controllers with army combat units. The air controllers communicate with warplanes above and direct attack by aircraft.
The air force thought it had solved the combat badge "problem" by earlier approving a gold border for the Expeditionary Service Ribbon. This ribbon is awarded to airmen who deploy overseas on a combat mission. The gold border would signify that the wearer had spent at least 45 consecutive days "supporting combat operations in a designated combat zone." But the airmen, and air controllers, were still grumbling. So apparently the air force brass are giving in, and preparing a combat badge similar to the one awarded by the other services.


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