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New rules to receive Combat Action Ribbon

25 Jan 2013 | Cpl. Ali Azimi

The Combat Action Ribbon is awarded to Marines who have rendered satisfactory performance under enemy fire while actively participating in a ground or surface engagement.

A revision to the requirements to receive the award has redefined what can qualify Marines for the CAR, due to Marine Administrative Message 038/13.

The award is given for engagement while under fire and in direct contact with the enemy, receiving and returning fire. The revision reflects the very real threat posed to coalition forces from improvised explosive.

These devices have become one of the biggest threats to troops in Afghanistan. Those exposed to them may be eligible to receive the CAR under its revised requirements.

Any Marine who is exposed to or is directly active in disabling, rendering safe or destroying IEDs, mines, or scatterable munitions, with or without enemy presence, is now eligible for a CAR.

These individuals are at increased risk of the effects of these weapons, if detonated. This constitutes performance under fire if either a Marine is within close proximity of detonated munitions or neutralized it poses as a threat.

Using remote mine clearing systems or direct fire weapons to neutralize or destroy the threat from outside of the anticipated blast area does not qualify Marines to receive the CAR.

According to the MarAdmin, an active IED, mine or scatterable munition are defined as one having both a main explosive charge and functional fusing or triggering mechanism.  Caches of these explosives not emplaced by the enemy for detonation also do not qualify as meeting the criteria for the award.

This revision is retroactive to 2001, qualifying anyone who meets the criteria since then to receive the award.

Currently, the only authorized operation which the CAR may be awarded for is Operation Enduring Freedom. Marines can only receive the CAR once per operation, even if engaged with the enemy or munitions multiple times. 

For more information refer to Marine Administrative Message 038/13.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms