Infantry Mission, Heraldry and Awards

Mission of the Infantry

The mission of the Infantry is to close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him, or to repel his assault with fire, close combat, and counterattack.


Infantry Plaque & Insignia

Branch Plaque – The plaque design has the branch insignia, letters and border in gold. The background is light blue.

Branch Insignia – The branch insignia for Infantry are two gold color crossed 1795 Springfield muskets (not the Brown Bess from the Revolutionary War era).   The 1795 Springfield muskets was the first official United States shoulder arm, made in a government arsenal, with interchangeable parts, caliber .69, flint lock, smooth bore, muzzle loader.  Crossed muskets were officially adopted as the Army insignia of Infantrymen by War Department General Order No. 96 19 Nov 1875.  From the 1870’s to 1921 there were numerous attempts to keep the insignia current with the ever changing rifles being introduced into the Army.   The standardized musket now in use was first suggested by Major General Charles S. Farnsworth, U.S. Army, while he was the first Chief of Infantry, in July 1921, approved by General Pershing, Chief of Staff, in 1922 and standardized in 1924.  There have been slight modifications to the size of the insignia over the years; however, the basic design has remained unchanged.   

Prior to 1875 the Infantry borrowed from the European tradition and used a hunting horn as the branch insignia.  European armies used the hunting horn as an insignia for light infantry or rifle units because those troops were often recruited from huntsmen, the horn being symbolic of the hunt.  These first appeared as an individual U.S. Army insignia on the infantry cap (shako) of 1832.

Branch Colors – Light blue – 65014 cloth; 67120 yarn; PMS 5415.

The infantry color is light blue; however, infantry regimental flags and guidons have been National Flag blue since 1835. White is used as a secondary color on the guidons for letters, numbers, and insignia.  The Infantry has made two complete cycles between white and light blue. During the Revolutionary War, white facings were prescribed for the Infantry. White was the color used for Infantry until 1851 at which time light or saxony blue was prescribed for tack.  The 1851 Regulations set up a system of branch insignia and branch colors many of which are still features of modern U.S. Army uniforms.    After the Civil War the linings of Infantrymen capes and trouser stripes were prescribed to be white.  However, in 1902, the light blue was prescribed again.  In 1917, the cape was still lined with light blue but the Infantry trouser stripes were of white as were the chevrons for enlisted men.

Birthday – 14 June 1775. The Infantry is the oldest branch in the Army. Ten companies of riflemen were authorized by the Continental Congress Resolve of 14 June 1775. However, the oldest Regular Army Infantry Regiment, the 3d Infantry, was constituted on 3 June 1784 as the First American Regiment.

Much of the information presented can be found on the Army Institute of Heraldry and American Military Patches, Other Insignia and Decorations of World War Two by Dr. Howard G. Lanham c.201

Regimental Flags – There is no standard infantry regimental flag to represent all of the infantry regiments. Each regiment of infantry has its own coat of arms which appears on the breast of a displayed eagle. The background of all the infantry regimental flags is flag blue with yellow fringe.  A scroll with the Regiments designation is underneath the eagle.

Regimental Coat of Arms & Crest – Personnel assigned to the Infantry branch affiliate with a specific regiment and wear the crest of the affiliated regiment.  Each Infantry Regiment has its own regimental insignia and coat of arms.  They are listed here.

Infantry Division, Brigade, Regiment Lineage And Honors – Army Infantry Regimental history such as when a regiment or its constituent battalions was organized, redesignated, consolidated, attached to a division, relieved, inactivated, reactivated campaign participation and unit decorations information can be found here.  Army Infantry Divisions & Brigades here.


Combat Infantryman Badge


Description – A silver and enamel badge 1 inch (2.54 cm) in height and 3 inches (7.62 cm) in width, consisting of a cocked 1795 model Springfield Arsenal musket on a light blue bar with a silver border, on and over an elliptical oak wreath. Stars are added at the top of the wreath to indicate subsequent awards; one star for the second award, two stars for the third award and three stars for the fourth award.

Symbolism – The bar is blue, the color associated with the Infantry branch. The musket is adapted from the Infantry insignia of branch and represents the first official U.S. shoulder arm, the 1795 model Springfield Arsenal musket.  The oak symbolizes steadfastness, strength and loyalty.

History – The Combat Infantryman Badge was approved by the Secretary of War on 7 October 1943 and announced in War Department Circular 269, dated 27 October 1943.

Major Charles W. Davis was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Guadalcanal.  Serving as an executive officer in the 27th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division on January 12, 1943 he volunteered to vary messages to pinned down infantry companies where he chose to remain overnight.  The next morning he volunteered to lead a four man patrol to assault an enemy machinegun position. Crawling to within 10 yards of the enemy position, the enemy threw two grenades that failed to detonate to which he and his detachment responded with eight grenades of their own.  CPT Davis then stood and moved forward.  After his rifle jammed, he drew his pistol waved his men forward and cleared the knoll.  Called back to Washington D.C. Maj Davis opined to Gen Marshall the Chief of Staff that “it would be wonderful if someone could design a badge for every infantryman who faces the enemy every day and every night with so little recognition.” 

The Infantry has always suffered the majority of casualties on the battlefield.  Rates ranged from 70%-90% of all casualties and to many an assignment to the Infantry was not welcome news.   There were many reasons to establish the CIB.

A need existed for large numbers of well-trained infantry to bring about a successful conclusion to the war and there already existed a critical shortage of infantrymen.  During 1944 large numbers of soldiers were forced into Infantry specialties because of extreme shortages in Europe.   Besides the Infantry’s propensity to make up the majority of casualties and receive the least public recognition, it was recognized of all soldiers, infantryman continuously operated under the worst conditions and performed a mission that was not assigned to any other Soldier or unit.   Finally, Gen Marshall’s well known affinity for the ground forces Soldier and, in particular, the infantryman was an important factor.

All these factors led to the establishment of the CIB, an award that would provide special recognition of the unique role of the Army infantryman, the only Soldier whose daily mission is to close with and destroy the enemy and to seize and hold terrain. The badge was intended as an inducement for individuals to join the infantry while serving as a morale booster for infantrymen serving in every theater.  Attesting to the rigor of the Infantry’s fight and the lack of general recognition for the sacrifices and service rendered in 1947, a policy was implemented that authorized the retroactive award of the Bronze Star to soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman Badge during World War II.

LTG Lesley J. McNair, then the Army Ground Forces commanding general, was instrumental in the CIB’s creation originally recommending it be called the “fighter badge”.  . There was a separate provision for badge holders to receive a $10 per month pay stipend, which was rescinded in 1948. The CIB was established by the War Department on 27 October 1943

In developing the CIB, the War Department did not dismiss out of hand or ignore the contributions of other branches. Their vital contributions to the overall war effort were certainly noted, but it was decided that other awards and decorations were sufficient to recognize their contributions. From the beginning, Army leaders have taken care to retain the badge for the unique purpose for which it was established and to prevent the adoption of any other badge which would lower its prestige. At the close of World War II, our largest war in which the armor and artillery played key roles in the ground campaigns, a review was conducted of the CIB criteria with consideration being given to creating either additional badges or authorizing the badge to cavalry and armor units. The review noted that any change in policy would detract from the prestige of the badge.  It was only recently that the Combat Action Badge was created to retain the unique nature of the CIB.

Award Eligibility – A Soldier must be an Army Infantry or Special Forces officer or soldier (11 or 18 MOS field) in the grade of colonel or below, or an Army enlisted Soldier, who subsequent to 6 December 1941 has satisfactorily performed duty while assigned or attached as a member of an infantry, ranger or Special Forces unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size during any period such unit was engaged in active ground combat.

A recipient must be personally present and under hostile fire while serving in an assigned infantry or Special Forces primary duty, in a unit actively engaged in ground combat with the enemy.  Battle or campaign participation credit alone is not sufficient; the unit must have been in active ground combat with the enemy during the period.

Personnel with other than an infantry or Special Forces MOS are not eligible, regardless of the circumstances.  Commanders are not authorized to make any exceptions to this policy.

The definition of requirement to be “engaged in active ground combat” has generated much dialogue over the years as to the original intent of the CIB. The 1943 War Department Circular required infantrymen to demonstrate “satisfactory performance of duty in action against the enemy.” The operative words “in action” connoted actual combat. A War Department determination in October 1944 specified that “action against the enemy” for purposes of award of the CIB was to be interpreted as “ground combat against enemy ground forces.”

In 1948, the regulation governing badges stipulated that “battle participation credit is not sufficient; the unit must have been in contact with the enemy.” This clearly indicated that an exchange of hostile fire or equivalent personal exposure was the intent of the Army leadership.

See Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards for more awards eligibility information.

On 8 February 1952, the Chief of Staff, Army, approved a proposal to add stars to the Combat Infantryman Badge to indicate award of the badge in separate wars. Under this change in policy, the badge was no longer limited to a one-time award, but could now be awarded to eligible individuals for each war in which they participated. The policy was expanded to permit award to Command Sergeants Major of infantry battalions or brigades, effective 1 December 1967. On 11 February 2005, the Chief of Staff, Army, approved changes to the CIB policy. Further changes were approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) on 24 June 2008.

CIB 2nd to 4th

Much of the information presented can be found on the Army Institute of Heraldry CIB page and the   Combat Infantryman’s Association site.

Expert Infantryman Badge


Description – A silver and enamel badge 7/16 inch (1.11 cm) in height and 3 inches (7.62 cm) in width, consisting of an uncocked 1795 model Springfield Arsenal musket on a light blue bar with a silver border.

Symbolism – The bar is blue, the color associated with the Infantry branch. The musket is adapted from the Infantry insignia of branch and represents the first official U.S. shoulder arm, 1795 model Springfield Arsenal musket. It was adopted as the official Infantry branch insignia in 1924.

History – The Expert Infantryman Badge was approved by the Secretary of War on 7 October 1943, and announced in War Department Circular 269 dated 27 October 1943.

In 1944 Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall initiated the development of an Award to honor the U.S. Army Infantryman. The Office of Heraldic Activity of the Quartermaster General began work on designing a badge that would represent the U.S. Infantry’s tough, hard hitting role in combat and symbolize proficiency in the Infantry arts.

Just as the Combat Infantryman Badge was intended to be an award for those U.S. fighting men whose primary mission was to close with and destroy the enemy; the Expert Infantryman Badge was instituted to build and maintain esprit de corps within U.S. Infantry units.  The intent of the EIB was to provide an award to those Infantrymen who had attained and demonstrated the highest proficiency in their unique exceptionally demanding and difficult skill set.

In 1944, 100 NCOs of the 100th Infantry Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina were selected to undergo three days of concentrated testing to determine the Army’s first Expert Infantryman. Testing consisted of:

  • Qualify with one individual weapon and in transition firing; or
  • Qualify with one crew served weapon (for men who are authorized to fire same for qualification) and in transition firing.
  • Complete familiarization firing with one other weapon.
  • Complete continuous (without falling out) foot marches, with full field equipment of 25 miles in 8 hours and 9 miles in 2 hours.
  • Complete physical fitness test.
  • Complete the infiltration, close combat, and combat-in-cities courses
  • Qualify in the grenade course.
  • Military subject test, evaluated by a board of officers.

Upon completion of testing, 10 NCOs remained. These ten were then interviewed to determine the first Expert Infantryman. On 29 March 1944, Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair, Commander of Army Ground Forces, presented the first Expert Infantry Badge to Technical Sergeant Walter Bull.

When awarding Sergeant Bull the EIB, Lieutenant General McNair stated, “The Expert Infantry Badge being awarded here today has been set up by the War Department for U.S. Infantrymen who are trained and fit for battle. After the Infantryman has been in battle, the Expert Infantry Badge may be replaced by the Combat Infantry Badge.” He went on to say, “Two-thirds of the troops of a division are Infantry. The other third Artillery, Engineers and the smaller units are to help and protect the Infantry. These helpers must find pride and satisfaction in the achievements of their Infantry, cheer it to victory… Infantrymen are killed and wounded in battle in far greater numbers than other branches. I am honored to be with you here. Be proud of your badges and become more expert every day. May they change to combat badges before long. Good luck.”

EIB testing is required to be conducted at least once each training year by authorized headquarters as long as the mission allows.  Testing since 1944 has become much more extensive and rates of attainment have ranged widely.  The current U.S. Army Infantry School, USAIS Pamphlet 350-6 has been revised to standardize EIB testing. 

The EIB train-up and test must be completed within 12 consecutive days.  The current test consists of 43 individual tasks.  Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in nine different weapons’ tasks/tests, 30 individual tasks conducted under simulated combat conditions, a day & night land navigation test course, physical training test, 12 mile road march in three hours with pack/personal equipment/weapon and qualify expert with the M4 rifle.  No retests are allowed on land navigation, PT test (minimum score of 75% in each event), road march and marksmanship.  No retests are allowed on the 30 individual skill tests with only two failures authorized.  All events are timed.  Standards for all task are cross walked with current Infantry series Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks.

Award Eligibility – A Soldier must be an Army Infantry or Special Forces officer or soldier (11 or 18 MOS field) in the grade of colonel or below, or an Army enlisted Soldier.

See Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards for more awards eligibility information.

For more information see The Army Maneuver Center EIB page here or PFC Walter Bull – The First Expert Infantryman

The History of the Infantryman Badge CONFIRM

Infantry Blue Cord

The Infantry Blue Cord is a fourragere in light blue (“Infantry Blue”) worn over the right shoulder and under the right epaulette of a U.S. Army infantryman’s dress blue uniform jacket or Class B shirt. The cord is composed of a series of alternating left and right half knots that are tied around a leader cord to form a “Solomon bar”.

The Infantry Blue Cord is presented to infantryman at the end of their Initial Entry Training. Officers commissioned into the infantry receive their Blue Cords at the end of the 16 week Infantry Basic Officer Leader’s Course (IBOLC).  Enlisted infantryman earn their Blue Cords after successfully completing all Infantry Training Brigade requirements required for achieving the infantry MOS by graduating from 16 weeks of Infantry One Station Unit Training (OSUT), or six weeks of Infantry Advanced Individual Training (AIT), all of which are conducted at the U.S. Army Infantry School’s Infantry Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The Infantry Blue Cord is worn by qualified U.S. Army Infantrymen currently assigned to an infantry unit in the Active Army, Army National Guard or Army Reserve. Only those with an Infantry MOS Military Occupational Specialty such as 11A(officers), 11B, 11C, (NOT 11X as this is an “unassigned” position designated for recruits who are contracted into the CMF (Career Management Field) 11 – Infantry). Other 11 series MOS holders (as both their primary and duty MOS) who may wear the cord are Infantrymen assigned to an Infantry slot that is not in an Infantry unit (such as with Infantry assigned to a cavalry unit) if authorized, or Instructors, Drill Sergeants, or Recruiters.

Qualified Infantry soldiers who are not assigned to an Infantry unit, to include those who are an 11-series MOS holder transitioning to 18-series MOS, for example, (CMF 18 is the designation for Army Special Forces MOS) may not wear the Infantry Blue Cord or Disks; those assigned to an Infantry unit, may wear the Infantry Blue Cord and Disks until their transition to a non-Infantry unit is complete.


During the Korean War General “Lightning Joe” Collins, Chief of Staff for the Army, asked a group of advisors what could be done to enhance the morale of the fighting Infantryman. It was decided that they would receive special insignia, so that everyone would know that the soldier was an Infantryman who would be fighting on the front lines.


A light-blue cord was created to be worn over the right shoulder of both officers and enlisted men. Also, light-blue plastic disks were issued to be placed behind the metal “crossed rifles” Infantry branch of service insignia disks. The new enhancements were first worn by the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”).

The light-blue cord and disks became standard for all Infantrymen in 1952. Although some other service branches adopted colored plastic disks for their branch insignia (e.g., red for Artillery, yellow for Cavalry) the blue shoulder cord is unique to the Infantry.


Today, enlisted graduates of Infantry One Station Unit Training receive their blue cord at the “Turning Blue” ceremony held the day before their Initial Entry Training/OSUT graduation, or graduation from Infantry AIT. Other branches attend a similar ceremony called “Turning Green”, but do not receive a shoulder cord.

Graduates of the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course must complete their two week-long final FTX with a 16 mile tactical road march and a mock company attack. Prior to graduation and out-processing, students have their “Blue Cord” ceremony at Freedom Hall where their blue cords are pinned on them by their platoon trainer Captain and NCOs. The staff sergeant or sergeant first class who pins on the blue cord then renders a salute recognizing the lieutenant’s entry into the ranks of the Infantry.

References:  AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia (28–30. Distinctive items authorized for infantry personnel)

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