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Items of interest to Ordnance Field Park members, and Vietnam Veterans in general, will be posted here. If you have any item/s for our Notice Board please
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Bob Nash (WebMaster)

07 June 2008

Army Combat Badge

What and why is it?
Members will be familiar with the Infantry Combat Badge (ICB), introduced by RA Infantry in July 1970. This device introduced considerable division within the Australian Army regarding the relative “worth” of the individual/ unit/ service. Other Corps and notably other Arms rejected proposals to implement similar corps specific devices.
Lt-Gen Leahy, when introducing the Army Combat Badge (ACB) is reported to have said. “We see now in our combined arms teams that infantry, armour and combat service support are all essentially doing the same job” and their efforts deserve to be recognised.
Eligibility criteria is detailed in DI(A) PERS 119-1, which can be seen in full at http://www.defence.gov.au/army/PUBS/downloads/ap119_01.pdf .
However, the following extracts should be sufficient for most.

The Army Combat Badge (ACB) is awarded to any member of the Australian Regular Army (ARA) or Army Reserve (all elements) on Continuous Full-time Service (CFTS) or other Reserve member in exceptional circumstances, for service in warlike operations or situations. This award does not replace the Infantry Combat Badge (ICB).

The purpose of the ACB is to recognise any member of the Army who was force assigned to an infantry, armour, artillery, aviation or combat engineer based combat team/battle group, or similar unit/sub-unit, and who has served for a specified period of time on warlike operations.

Any member of any Corps who were force assigned to an infantry, armour, artillery, aviation or combat engineer based combat team/battle group or similar unit/sub-unit, and has given either continuous or an aggregate of 90 days satisfactory service on warlike operations for a single deployment or operation is eligible to wear the ACB. The Chief of Army may alter the eligibility criteria depending on the operation or deployment.

The current situation in relation to the eligibility of OFP Members to wear the ACB
Several members who were at FSB Coral during the battles in May 1968, and who have been invited by the Government/DVA to attend the 40th Anniversary commemorations, applied to the Army for approval to wear the ACB in view of the warlike experiences at FSB Coral.

The Army, in its infinite wisdom has reply as follows:-
“Thank you for your email of 31 March 2008 requesting the awarding of the Army Combat Badge for your service with 1 OFP in South Vietnam in 1968.
In coming to a decision, the Director General Personnel - Army considered the original intent of the award which was to closely align the eligibility criteria for the Army Combat Badge with the Infantry Combat Badge and recognise non infantry soldiers’ service in an Arms Corps unit or battle group in an operational area. The Director General Personnel - Army also took into consideration the outcomes of other requests for special consideration that he has received. Taking those factors into account, the Director General Personnel - Army has determined that while there is no doubt that you and other members of 1 OFP were exposed to a degree of risk whilst on operations, that you and your colleagues were not force assigned to an infantry, armour, artillery, aviation or combat engineer based combat team/battle group and therefore ineligible to be issued and wear the Army Combat Badge.
I appreciate that this decision will be a source of disappointment to you and the other members of 1 OFP. I trust that you and the other members will understand that in matters affecting awards, the integrity of the eligibility criteria must be observed. All the best to you and your colleagues.”

As you can appreciate, this bureaucratic response from the Army has not gone down well with the ‘Coral Boys’. A decision was made to make a submission to the Chief of Army for special consideration to the awarding of the ACB to the OFP as a Unit. There was not a lot of time available to seek input from every OFP members so the ‘Coral Boys’ (Les Wilkinson, Colin Cross and Tony Flanagan) in conjunction with Bob Nash, put together the submission on behalf of everyone.
This submission was also rejected with the following comment from the Chief of Army:-
“It is widely acknowledged that RAAOC members and other combat service support soldiers conducted vital combat related duties in the support of 1 ATF.”

Members of the OFP are only seeking due recognition for the dual role they played in the support of all units attached to the 1st Australian Task Force. We intend to pursue this matter until we receive this recognition.
Members are encouraged to add their comments regarding this article.


Ron Meppom said...

It would appear that the brass, again "in their wisdom" has had a change of interpretation as I recently received a note from Colin Cross to the effect that he had received his ACB in the mail.

It may be the time for all to submit their application and quote this precedent.

Bob Nash (WebMaster) said...

Ron,thanks for your comment.

I would suggest that we all remain patient for a little while. There are political processess in the pipe line which we hope will support our request for unit recognition to wear the ACB.

So if everyone can "hang five" for the present time and watch this space for further news, when it happens.


Bob Nash (WebMaster) said...

We have received a letter from Dr Mike Kelly (Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support) advising us that the Army is currently reviewing the Defence Instructions (Army) PERS 119/1 (Army Combat Badge) with a proposed amendment that will seek to clarify the policy with regards to those members that were not force assigned to a combat team.
We are hopeful of receiving further information in this regard by about the end of August 2008. Stay tuned !!!

Anonymous said...

Tony & Others,
It would seem that your 'stumbling blocks' might continue to be the 'Force assigned' and '90 day qualifying' period aspects to the 'current' entitlement.

If you can get around all that, without opening up 'Pandora's Box' from the point of view that, for example; Sig Ops were 'att' to Inf units 'on & off'for a period,you might also simarly qualify.

I think it will remain that the 'retrospective' aspect of your qualification/entitlement to the ACBwill remain the issue, as against the current system for the Force Commander to presently make the decision 'on the spot'.

Good luck & keep fighting!

David Catterall
(1 Armd Sqn Wksp Stores Sect - SVN 67/68)

Bob Nash (WebMaster) said...

It is now February 2009 and this matter is STILL on-going !!!

The matter is now in the hands of our Head of Corps who is taking it up with the Chief of Army on our behalf.


Bob Nash (WebMaster) said...

UPDATE.......We have been advised that MAJGEN Cavenagh (Head of Corps RAAOC) recently briefed Chief of Army. CA has advised MAJGEN Cavenagh that he is willing to review the matter of the award of the ACB. Deputy Chief of Army (who manages Heads of Corps for CA) has given some guidance, the implications of which will be investigated further by HoC. HoC will be in touch with us soon with a more detailed response.