C (Combat) Device
The C device was created to distinctly recognize those service members performing meritoriously under the most arduous combat conditions.
Are the “C” and “R” devices retroactive?
Yes, they are retroactive to 7 January 2016, which is the date when the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) signed the directive approving the “C” and “R” devices. Awards approved 6 January 2016 or earlier are NOT authorized for reconsideration for award of the "C" or "R" device. SECDEF did not direct any other guidance regarding the retroactive status of the new devices (meaning NO SECDEF guidance was issued to make them retroactive to e.g. the start of GWOT). There is no current initiative, nor is one expected, to reconsider changing the retroactive date.
Where did this idea come from?
The creation of the “C” and “R” devices is the result of the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Decorations and Awards Review (MDAR). This year-long, formal review involved the DoD, Joint Staff, Military Departments, the Combatant Commands, and several other stakeholders, to ensure the Department’s military decorations and awards program continues to appropriately recognize the service, sacrifices, and actions of our service members. The MDAR found that some medals are inherently for combat service or achievement (such as the BSM), while many other awards are not so distinct (such as the ARCOM). The MDAR determined Soldiers should receive appropriate, distinct recognition for qualifying meritorious service or achievement performed under combat conditions or for impacting combat operations from a remote location. The creation of the “C” and “R” devices establishes a way to distinguish such multi-purpose awards as having been earned in combat or for directly contributing to combat. The Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) approved the MDAR on 7 January 2016.
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