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Female Soldiers Eligible for Decorations, but not Combat Infantry Badge

January 10, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Women in the Army who fought in Panama will be eligible for several decorations honoring valor, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday, but not the Combat Infantryman Badge.

None of several hundred women who served in the Panama operation serve in infantry units, a requirement to be considered for the Combat Infantryman Badge, said an Army spokesman, Maj. Joe Padilla.

″They will be eligible for decorations and awards for valor - the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, and the Medal of Honor,″ Padilla said.

″A person has to see action and has to be a member of an infantry unit″ to be eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge, the major said.

Of the 26,000 troops involved in Operation Just Cause, approximately 9,000 were in the infantry, Padilla said, but not all will receive the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Under Army policy, women are excluded from military specialties, such as the infantry, that are deemed to be combat-related.

The issue has drawn attention in light of the actions of Capt. Linda Bray, who commanded the 988th Military Police Company and its seizure of the Panamanian Defense Forces canine unit during the Dec. 20 invasion.

In that encounter, as well as others, female soldiers came under and returned fire.

Padilla said it is up to the Army’s chain of command to make decisions awarding medals and each case is reviewed individually.

The Army chief of staff, Gen. Carl Vuono, handed out Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge decorations to several wounded soldiers days after the operation ″because it was obvious that they had been injured in a firefight or that their actions merited the awards,″ Padilla said.

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