An explosive ordnance disposal technician responds to an unexploded ordnance call in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Sgt. John Jackson / Marine Corps)
- Filed Under
Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan who have taken direct action to disable, render safe or destroy an enemy emplaced improvised explosive device, mine or scatterable munition may now be eligible for the Combat Action Ribbon.
The eligibility changes, retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001, were set forth in All Navy message 068/12, published in mid-October.
The changes are "consistent with the 2006 clarification of CAR criteria concerning IED engagements, and with the original intent of the CAR, which is to provide recognition to sailors and Marines who directly and actively participate in ground or surface combat," the ALNAV states.
The principal eligibility criterion for the Combat Action Ribbon is that a Marine, in the grade of colonel or below, performs satisfactorily under enemy fire while actively participating in a ground engagement.
But even without the immediate presence of enemy fire, direct exposure to the detonation of an IED, mine or scatterable munition used by an enemy constitutes active participation in a ground or surface engagement, according to the ALNAV. Placing oneself in immediate proximity — at risk to the explosive effects of a munition — while taking direct action to disable, render safe or destroy it also qualifies.
The message defines munitions as those having both a main explosive charge and a functional fusing or triggering mechanism.
Exposure to caches of munitions that have not been emplaced does not satisfy the criterion, nor does marking a suspected IED or mine. Using a remote mine-clearing system or firing a weapon at a munition to destroy it from outside the blast radius also does not qualify.
The only authorized ongoing operation for which the Combat Action Ribbon may be awarded is Operation Enduring Freedom, which began Oct. 7, 2001.
Eligibility dates for recently concluded operations are:
• Operation Iraqi Freedom, from March 19, 2003, to Aug. 31, 2010.
• Operation New Dawn, from Sept. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2011.
All other CAR recommendations should be forwarded to the secretary of the Navy, via the commandant of the Marine Corps, according to the ALNAV. The secretary retains authority to award the ribbon for actions outside the operations, times and areas listed.