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Army Confirms Troy Nehls Is Ineligible for the Combat Badge He Proudly Wears

Rep. Troy Nehls told his critics to “go ask the Army” about his Combat Infantryman Badge. So we did — and it wasn’t good news for Nehls.

Troy Nehls
Rep. Troy Nehls sits at a committee hearing in Congress wearning a Combat Infantryman Badge below his Congressional Member’s Pin. Jose Luis Magana/AP

When House Republicans called Rep. Troy Nehls out for continuing to wear a revoked Combat Infantryman Badge, he challenged critics to “go ask the Army.”

So NOTUS did.

For the first time since this controversy started in May, the Army commented on Nehls’ service record on Friday. And it wasn’t great news for the Texas congressman.

The Army’s statement to NOTUS confirms prior reporting that Nehls served in the Army as an enlisted infantryman, as well as an armor and civil affairs officer from July 1988 to December 2008 — first in the Wisconsin National Guard for 13 years and then in the Army Reserve for the last seven years. For both deployments — Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2008 — Nehls served as an officer in the civil affairs branch, an Army spokesperson confirmed to NOTUS. That role does not qualify for the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Nehls received the CIB in 2008, but the award was rescinded in 2023 when the Pentagon amended his service record, as CBS News previously reported.

Nehls, who frequently wears his Infantryman badge on his suit jacket lapel, has argued that the 101st Airborne has “been in combat now for the past 20-plus years” and that they rightly gave him a Combat Infantryman Badge.

In a letter to the Army’s Human Resources Command, Nehls said it was “clear you disagree with the 101st Airborne Division’s interpretation as it relates to the awarding of the CIB.”

“Do they interpret this wrong? Are they misinterpreting this policy for the issuance of a CIB?” Nehls asked. “Or just big army got it wrong?”

NOTUS asked the 101st Airborne Division how it would issue a Combat Infantryman Badge. “The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) follows the Army’s regulatory guidance prescribed in the service’s guide on Military Awards, also known as AR 600-22,” Lt. Col. Tony Hoefler, spokesperson for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, told NOTUS. “For specific award discrepancies involving former Soldiers, I would refer you to the team at U.S. Army Human Resources Command.”

Nehls’ office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

U.S. Army Human Resources Command is the unit responsible for removing the Combat Infantryman Badge from Nehls’ military record. According to the Army standard, soldiers must “be an infantry Soldier satisfactorily performing infantry duties” and “assigned to an infantry unit during such time as the unit is engaged in active ground combat.”

Whether the 101st Airborne Division can even change that standard, Army regulations state that “Commanders are not authorized to make any exceptions to this policy.”

Nehls served as an infantry soldier in the early ’90s with the Wisconsin National Guard. And he did deploy once during that time — to Bosnia — but he wasn’t given either the Combat Action or Combat Infantryman Badge during that deployment, according to his military record.

Later, Nehls served as a Civil Affairs officer in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne, which gave him the Combat Infantryman Badge. But according to Army standards, that was a mistake.The Army established the award to “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.” A civil affairs role is to “prevent civilian interference with tactical operations,” and they “are specifically selected, trained, and equipped to understand and influence the civil component of the operational environment,” according to the Army.

Members of the Army have to be serving in an infantry or special forces military occupation specialty when they are engaged in combat for someone to receive the Combat Infantryman Badge. A spokesperson for the U.S. Army sent NOTUS the exact language that qualifies someone for the Combat Infantryman Badge. “Personnel with other than an infantry or [special forces military occupation specialty] are not eligible, regardless of the circumstances,” according to the Army’s official guide on Military Awards.

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Nehls previously defended questions about his military record when a review showed that he had one Bronze Star, not the two he claimed. Nehls posted photographs and paperwork for two Bronze Stars on his X account in May.

“The Department of Defense (DoD) claims I was awarded only one Bronze Star. Wrong. I have two,” he said in the post.

To date, Nehls hasn’t posted any contradictory information about his Combat Infantryman Badge.

John T. Seward is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.