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Old 27 March 2008, 07:08 PM
pinqy pinqy is offline
Join Date: 20 February 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 11,647

Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
Being "under sniper fire" does not mean exactly the same as "being shot at."
Yes, it does. To be "under fire" means that someone is actively, at that moment, shooting at you. In 20 years in the army, I have never heard any other use of the phrase.

An area might be posted as a "sniper zone" in which case one inside that area could be "under sniper fire" even if no shots were fired in that entire day or week.
Please show an example of this by someone in the military. I've never encountered such use.

Some of the troops deployed to active combat duty in Iraq will never see an enemy combatant. They will never be downrange of active enemy fire. They will never be inside the burst radius of explosives.
And while they may say they served in a combat zone, they would be regarded as liars if they said they were in combat. I served in a combat zone...I even had explosions going on all around me...but I never served in combat and would never say I did. (the explosions were our own ammunition dump exploding in an accident and subsequent explosions of the ordinance left over).

Would you deny them combat pay, since they were never "in combat?"
Semantics are important here. Technically, there is no such thing as "combat pay." There is "Imminent Danger" pay, which means serving in an area designated as an Imminent Danger area, and "Hostile Fire Pay" which requires that the individual is:
  • Subject to hostile fire or mine explosions
  • In an area near hostile fire or mine explosions which endanger the member
  • Killed, injured, or wounded by hostile fire, mines, or any hostile action.
Since those are legal definitions, differences in ordinary speech are irrelevant: a person is either legally entitled to the pay based on the definition or they're not. Is a person serving in an Imminent Danger Area actually in imminent danger? Probably not (Bahrain is currently an IDA), but it's the legal definition that's important. If the requirements specifically said that actually being under fire was necessary (which IIRC was the rule in Vietnam) then that would be different.

Would you deny them the bragging rights, years later when they choose to run for Congress, of saying that they served "in combat?"
Yes, I would, if they didn't serve in combat. Serving in a combat zone and serving in combat are different. Current army insignia make things a little are entitled to wear on your right shoulder the patch of a unit you served in an imminent danger area, receiving imminent danger pay. This is commonly known as the combat patch, though there is no expectation that actual combat was seen. Contrary to this is the Combat Action Badge, which requires that the: Soldier must be personally present and actively engaging or being engaged by the enemy, and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement. Combat Zone versus Combat.

ETA: the rules for combat patches have changed since I was awarded one, and under the current rules, I would not be authorized the wear of my patch since my unit did not actually participate in any combat (we got there after the war).


Last edited by pinqy; 27 March 2008 at 07:15 PM.
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