The U.S. Army has authorized the combat patch for some soldiers who have served in Somalia, according to a U.S. Central Command news release.
The shoulder sleeve insignia for former wartime service is authorized for soldiers who have been "deployed, temporarily stationed or permanently assigned to Somalia since 2004 and who received combat zone tax exclusion plus hostile fire pay and/or imminent danger pay," the March 6 release states.
"The shoulder sleeve insignia is a unique Army tradition that distinguishes soldiers who have served in areas of combat, and our soldiers in Somalia have certainly earned this recognition," Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in the release.
Soldiers who have deployed to Somalia can begin wearing the combat patch immediately, as long as they have the proper documentation to support their eligibility, according to the release.
The combat patch has been a symbol of military service during combat operations since World War I. The unit patch is worn on the right sleeve of the uniform, just below the American flag.
Last October, al-Shabaab terrorists attacked Baledogle Military Airfield in Somalia with a car bomb, leaving one U.S. service member injured. U.S. service members train foreign troops to operate military drones out of the base, which is located about 60 miles from the capital of Mogadishu.
In June 2018, a U.S. special operations soldier was killed in a terrorist attack. Four other American service members were wounded when the group of U.S., Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland, Somalia.
The U.S. currently has roughly 6,000 troops based in Africa.
This authorization adds Somalia to the list of current combat zones -- including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Djibouti -- where soldiers are receiving combat zone tax exclusion and imminent danger pay, according to the release.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.