This is an individual service award. It may be awarded to members of the Coast Guard in the grade of Captain (O-6) and below who actively participate in ground or maritime combat.
The principal eligibility award criterion is satisfactory performance under enemy fire while actively participating in a ground or maritime engagement. Neither service in a combat area nor being awarded the Purple Heart (or a combat award or badge from another Service) automatically makes a service member eligible for the USCG Combat Action Ribbon.
A direct exposure to the detonation of an improvised explosive device used by an enemy, with or without the immediate presence of enemy forces, constitutes active participation in a ground or maritime engagement. Personnel who serve in clandestine or special operations, who by the nature of their mission are restricted in their ability to return fire, and who are operating in conditions where the risk of enemy fire is great and expected to be encountered, may be eligible for the USCG Combat Action Ribbon. The ribbon will not be awarded to personnel for aerial combat; however, a pilot or crew-member forced to escape or evade after being forced down may be eligible for the award.
Establishing Authority & Effective Dates
The Secretary of Homeland Security established the Coast Guard Combat Action ribbon on July 16, 2008. This award is currently authorized for operations Allied Force (Kosovo), Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. It may also be awarded for minor operations as well as for specific actions, as determined by the Commandant of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon is retroactive to May 1, 1975 (the earliest date for which a Navy Combat Action Ribbon. Air Force Combat Action Medal, or Army Combat Infantry/Medical/Action badge may be converted to a Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon).
History & Symbology
Personnel who have previously earned the Navy Combat Action Ribbon, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, or the Army Combat Infantry/Medical/Action Badge for actions on or after May 1, 1975 must request authorization to be awarded the USCG Combat Action Ribbon. Requests will be individually reviewed and acted upon based on their merit.
Effective January 1, 2009, no award of the Navy Combat Action Ribbon, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, or the Army Combat Infantry/Medical/Action badge is authorized for wear on the Coast Guard uniform, even if previously authorized by waiver from the Coast Guard Headquarters. However, their award for service prior to May 1, 1975 will remain authorized for wear on the Coast Guard uniform, but will not be considered for conversion to the USCG Combat Action Ribbon.