Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces
The United States Armed Forces awards and decorations are the medals, service ribbons, specific badges which recognize military service and personal accomplishments while a member of the U. S. Armed Forces; such awards are a means to outwardly display the highlights of a service member's career. While each service has its own order of precedence, the following general rules apply to all services: U. S. military personal decorations U. S. military unit awards U. S. non-military personal decorations Presidential awards National Medals DoD and JCS Distinguished Service awards Agency-specific Distinguished Service awards Agency-specific Superior Service awards Agency-specific Meritorious Service awards Agency-specific Commendation awards Agency-specific Achievement awards Civilian unit awards Civilian service awards U. S. non-military unit awards U. S. military campaign and service medals U. S. military service and training awards U. S. Merchant Marine awards and non-military service awards Foreign military personal decorations Foreign military unit awards Non-U.
S. Service awards Foreign military service awards Marksmanship awards Awards of U. S. military societies and other organizations6a 6b State awards of the National Guard Notes on branch-specific exceptions to the above: 1a In the Army, unit awards are worn as a separate grouping, on the right side of the uniform and without frames, are worn in the order of precedence from the wearer’s right to left. 1b In the Navy, unit award ribbons are only worn on the right side of the uniform, when wearing full medals on the left side. Arrange ribbons in order of precedence in rows from top down, inboard to outboard. For U. S. Navy, the USPHS unit awards are considered unit awards. However, if Navy personnel are awarded USPHS personal decorations the USPHS order of precedence would apply. 2 Some awards, despite being ribbon-only, are higher in precedence. The Navy & Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbons and the Coast Guard's Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon are included with personal decorations, while two Air Force ribbon-only awards and the Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year Ribbon are considered in the same category as service medals.
3a Marksmanship Awards in the Air Force are considered training awards. 3b The Army and Marine Corps issue Marksmanship Qualification Badges instead of Marksmanship awards. 4 For Navy, Merchant Marine awards are considered U. S. non-military awards. 5 The obsolete Philippine Commonwealth service awards, when still listed in the order of precedence, come before the United Nations medals or before the Merchant Marine awards. 6a For Navy and ribbons from military societies, such as the Army and Navy Union of the United States, worn in the order earned may be worn after marksmanship awards. Medals and badges issued by these societies may be worn only while attending meetings or conventions or while participating in parades or other ceremonies as a member of these organizations. 6b For Army, no allowance of military society medals or ribbons is prescribed. More badges of the Army and Navy Union of the United States of America are authorized for such active duty ANU members without further restriction.
Badges of other civic and quasi-military societies of the United States, international organizations of a military nature may be worn with restrictions. These include badges of organizations composed of members who served in a U. S. force during the Revolutionary War. The badges are worn only while the wearer is attending meetings or functions of such organizations, or on occasions of ceremony. Personnel will not wear these badges to and from such events. Notes: Precedence of particular awards will vary among the different branches of service. All awards and decorations may be awarded to any service member unless otherwise designated by name or notation. Note: ^ The precedence of the Purple Heart was before the Good Conduct Medals until changed to its current precedence in 1985. Inter-service Air Force Army Coast Guard Navy and Marine CorpsTo denote additional achievements or multiple awards of the same decoration, the United States military maintains a number of award devices which are pinned to service ribbons and medals.
Awards and decorations of the National Guard Awards and decorations of the state defense forces U. S. military personnel having received these awards have either been discharged or retired for a substantial length of time and/or are deceased. The following decorations were designed for issuance with an approved medal, but were either never approved for presentation or were discontinued bef
Presidential Unit Citation (United States)
The Presidential Unit Citation called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the Uniformed services of the United States, those of allied countries, for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941. The unit must display such gallantry and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. Since its inception by Executive Order on 26 February 1942, retroactive to 7 December 1941, to 2008, the Presidential Unit Citation has been awarded in conflicts such as World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan; the collective degree of valor against an armed enemy by the unit nominated for the PUC is the same as that which would warrant award of the individual award of the Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Navy Cross. In some cases, one or more individuals within the unit may have been awarded individual awards for their contribution to the actions for which their entire unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
The unit with the most Presidential Unit Citations is the USS Parche with 9 citations. The Army citation was established by Executive Order 9075 on 26 February 1942, superseded by Executive Order 9396 on Dec. 2, 1943, which authorized the Distinguished Unit Citation. As with other Army unit citations, the PUC is in a larger frame than other ribbons, is worn above the right pocket. All members of the unit may wear the decoration, whether or not they participated in the acts for which the unit was cited. Only those assigned to the unit at the time of the action cited may wear the decoration as a permanent award. For both the Army and Air Force, the emblem is a solid blue ribbon enclosed in a gold frame; the Air Force PUC was adopted from the Army Distinguished Unit Citation after the Air Force became a separate military branch in 1947. By Executive Order 10694, dated Jan. 10, 1957 the Air Force redesignated the Distinguished Unit Citation as the Presidential Unit Citation. The Air Force PUC is the same color and design as the Army PUC but smaller, so that it can be worn in alignment with other Air Force ribbons on the left pocket following personal awards.
As with the Army, all members of a receiving unit may wear the decoration while assigned to it, but only those assigned to the unit at the time of the action cited may wear the decoration as a permanent award or if any member of a receiving unit had it their last duty station prior to being either discharged or retired they may continue to wear the decoration as prescribed. The Citation is carried on the receiving unit's colors in the form of a blue streamer, 4 ft long and 2.75 in wide. For the Army, only on rare occasions will a unit larger than battalion qualify for award of this decoration. Citations "to Naval and Marine Corps Units for Outstanding Performance in Action" was established by Executive Order 9050 on 6 February 1942; the Navy version has navy blue and red horizontal stripes, is the only Navy ribbon having horizontal stripes. To distinguish between the two versions of the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy version, more referred to as the Presidential Unit Citation, is referred to as the Navy Presidential Unit Citation and sometimes as the "Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation", the Army and Air Force version is referred to by the Army and Air Force as the Army Presidential Unit Citation and Air Force Presidential Unit Citation.
The ribbon is worn by only by those Navy and Marine service members who were assigned to the unit for the "award period" of the award. In the Army, those who join the unit after the "award period" may wear it while assigned to the unit. ALNan 137-43 states that the first award has a blue enameled star on the ribbon and additional stars for subsequent awards. In 1949, the award changed with no star for bronze stars for subsequent awards. To commemorate the first submerged voyage under the North Pole by the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus in 1958, all members of her crew who made that voyage were authorized to wear their Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with a special clasp in the form of a gold block letter N. Currently, US Navy sailors assigned to the USS Nautilus memorial at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, are permitted to wear the Navy Presidential Unit Citation; as of 2014, the same device may be awarded for the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal for those personnel who work in direct support of ICBM operations who serve 179 non-consecutive days dispatched to a missile complex.
To commemorate the first submerged circumnavigation of the world by the nuclear-powered submarine Triton during its shakedown cruise in 1960, all members of her crew who made that voyage were authorized to wear their Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with a special clasp in the form of a golden replica of the globe. United States Coast Guard units may be awarded either the Navy or Coast Guard version of the Presidential Unit Citation, depending on which service the Coast Guard was supporting when the citation action was performed; the current decoration is known as the "Department of Homeland Security Presidential Unit Citation". The original Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation was established under the authority of Executive Order 10694, amended by Section 74 of Executive Order 13286 to transfer the award of the USCG PUC to the Secr
The Achievement Medal is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize the contributions of junior officers and enlisted personnel who were not eligible to receive the higher Commendation Medal or the Meritorious Service Medal; each military service issues its own version of the Achievement Medal, with a fifth version authorized by the U. S. Department of Defense for joint military activity; the Achievement Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service not of a nature that would otherwise warrant awarding the Commendation Medal. Award authority rests with local commanders, granting a broad discretion of when and for what action the Achievement Medal may be awarded; the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, is the United States Navy and U. S. Marine Corps' version of the Achievement Medal; the U. S. Navy was the first branch of the U. S. Armed Forces to award such a medal, doing so in 1961, when it was dubbed the “Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement Medal”.
This title was shortened in 1967 to the "Navy Achievement Medal". On 19 August 1994, to recognize those of the United States Marine Corps who had received the Navy Achievement Medal, the name of the decoration was changed to the "Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal"; the award is referred to in shorthand speech as a "NAM". From its inception in the early 1960s to 2002, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal could not be approved by the commanding officers of ships, aviation squadron, or shore activities who held the rank of Commander. Awards for crewmembers had to be submitted to the Commodore or Air Wing Commander or the first appropriate O-6 in the chain of command for approval, who signed the award and returned it; this led to a lower awarding rate when compared to similar size units in the Army or Air Force awarding their own achievement medals considering that those services did not establish their respective achievement medals until the 1980s. Since 2002 the commanding officers of aviation squadrons and ships have had the authority to award NAMs without submission to higher authority.
For the Army, battalion commanders (or the first O-5 in a soldier's chain of command for the Army Achievement Medal. The United States Coast Guard created its own Achievement Medal in 1967. S. Army and U. S. Air Force issued their own versions of the award with the Army Achievement Medal in 1981 and Air Force Achievement Medal in 1980. Effective 11 September 2001, the Army Achievement Medal may be awarded in a combat area. Since this change over sixty thousand Army Achievement Medals have been awarded in theaters of operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan; the Joint Service Achievement Medal was created in 1983. This award was considered a Department of Defense decoration senior to the service department Achievement Medals; the following devices may be authorized to be worn on the following achievement medals suspension ribbon and service ribbon: All Achievement Medals, "C" device, which signifies meritorious performance "under combat conditions", after January 2016 Army Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters Air Force Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, for additional awards - 5/16 inch stars Coast Guard Achievement Medal, for additional awards - 5/16 inch stars Joint Service Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters Coast Guard Achievement Medal - Operational Distinguishing Device Coast Guard Achievement Medal - Combat Distinguishing Device The following ribbon devices were authorized in the past but have now been discontinued: Air Force Achievement Medal - "V" Device, until December 2016 Army Achievement Medal - "V" Device, until December 2016 Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal - Combat Distinguishing Device, until December 2016 Awards and decorations of the United States government Awards and decorations of the United States military Awards and decorations of the United States Coast Guard Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Citation Examples HRC Joint Awards FAQ
Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U. S. combat do not meet the criteria for the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross, the Air Force Cross, the Coast Guard Cross; the Distinguished Service Cross was first awarded during World War I. In addition, a number of awards were made for actions before World War I. In many cases, these were to soldiers who had received a Certificate of Merit for gallantry which, at the time, was the only other honor for gallantry the Army could award, or recommend a Medal of Honor. Others were belated recognition of actions in the Philippines, during the Boxer Rebellion and on the Mexican Border; the Distinguished Service Cross is distinct from the Distinguished Service Medal, awarded to persons in recognition of exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility.
The Distinguished Service Cross is only awarded for actions in combat, while the Distinguished Service Medal has no such restriction. A cross of bronze, 2 inches high and 1 13⁄16 inches wide with an eagle on the center and a scroll below the eagle bearing the inscription "FOR VALOR". On the reverse side, the center of the cross is circled by a wreath with a space for engraving the name of the recipient; the service ribbon is 1 3⁄8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 1⁄8 inch Old Glory Red 67156. The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army, distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of a Medal of Honor; the act or acts of heroism must have been so notable and have involved risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her comrades. The following are authorized components of the Distinguished Service Cross: Decoration: MIL-D-3943/4. NSN 8455-00-269-5745 for decoration set.
NSN 8455-00-246-3827 for individual replacement medal. Decoration: MIL-D-3943/4. NSN 8455-00-996-50007. Ribbon: MIL-R-11589/50. NSN 8455-00-252-9919. Lapel Button: MIL-L-11484/1. NSN 8455-00-253-0808. Additional awards of the Army's Distinguished Service Cross are denoted with oak leaf clusters; the Distinguished Service Cross was established by President Woodrow Wilson on January 2, 1918. General Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Forces in France, had recommended that recognition other than the Medal of Honor be authorized for the Armed Forces of the United States for valorous service rendered in like manner to that awarded by the European Armies; the request for establishment of the medal was forwarded from the Secretary of War to the President in a letter dated December 28, 1917. The Act of Congress establishing this award, dated July 9, 1918, is contained in 10 U. S. C. § 3742. The establishment of the Distinguished Service Cross was promulgated in War Department General Order No.
6, dated January 12, 1918. The Distinguished Service Cross was designed by J. Andre Smith, an artist employed by the United States Army during World War I; the Distinguished Service Cross was first cast and manufactured by the United States Mint at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The die was cast from the approved design prepared by Captain Aymar E. Embury II, Engineers Officer Reserve Corps. Upon examination of the first medals struck at the Mint, it was considered advisable to make certain minor changes to add to the beauty and the attractiveness of the medal. Due to the importance of the time element involved in furnishing the decorations to General Pershing, one hundred of the medals were struck from the original design; these medals were furnished with the provision that these crosses be replaced when the supply of the second design was accomplished. 10 U. S. C. § 3991 provides for a 10% increase in retired pay for enlisted personnel who have retired with more than 20 years of service if they have been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Order of precedence and wear of decorations is contained in Army Regulation 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority and issue of decorations is contained in AR 600-8-22. During World War I, 6,309 awards of the Distinguished Service Cross were made to 6,185 recipients. Several dozen Army soldiers, as well as eight marines and two French Army officers, received two Distinguished Service Crosses. A handful Air Service aviators, were decorated three or more times. Eddie Rickenbacker, the top U. S. ace of the war, was awarded a record eight Distinguished Service Crosses, one of, upgraded to the Medal of Honor, while flying with the 94th Aero Squadron. Fellow aviators Douglas Campbell of the 94th, Frank O'Driscoll "Monk" Hunter of the 103rd Aero Squadron each received five. Another 94th aviator, Reed McKinley Chambers, was awarded four Distinguished Service Crosses. Three aviators received three Di
Inter-service awards and decorations of the United States military
The United States military inter-service awards and decorations are those medals and ribbons which may be awarded to all members of the five military branches of the U. S. Armed Forces; each military branch awards inter-service awards under the same criteria. The World War I Victory Medal was the first inter-service award; this was followed by the Purple Heart,Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal decorations. Prior to this time, several older service medals had been issued both to the Army and Navy, but in different versions for each service; the World War I Victory Medal, Purple Heart, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal were thus the first medals which appeared identical, regardless of which service was bestowing the award. By the end of World War II, several World War II service medals had been established for issuance to both Army and Navy personnel; the United States Coast Guard received such awards under the authority of the Department of the Navy.
After World War II, The Korean Service Medal was the first inter-service non-decoration award, awarded by all five branches of the U. S. Armed Forces. Since 1956, 2010, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star Medal may be awarded by the Coast Guard. In the 1960s and 1970s, the U. S. Armed Forces created the Meritorious Service Medal, several campaign medals and service awards, all of which may be awarded by any service branch; the United States Department of Defense in the 1960s and 1970s began creating a series of peacetime meritorious awards which were eligible for presentation to any military member working in a joint command or under the authority of the Secretary of Defense. The last such medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal decoration, was created in 1983; the only inter-service unit award, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award was created in 1981. On April 5, 2011, President Barack Obama amended Executive Order 12824 modifying the award eligibility of the Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal to "any member of the Armed Forces of the United States" making it an inter-service award of the U.
S. military. This decoration has been given to Gen Craig R. McKinley for his service as Chief of the National Guard Bureau; the Medal of Honor a Navy award, is now technically an inter-service award, is issued in different versions for each branch of military service. There are presently three versions of the decoration in existence for the Army and Air Force. Marines receive the Navy version of the Medal of Honor while a Coast Guard version, which exists in theory, has never been bestowed; the following are the various military medals of the United States which are considered inter-service awards and decorations. Medals are shown in categories, not in order of precedence for uniform wear. Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It most indicates the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the recipient has met the criteria for receiving the medal in multiple theatres; when used in conjunction with decorations for exceptional service, such as gallantry medals, the term "and bar" means that the award has been bestowed multiple times. In the example, "Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO and two bars, DFC", "DSO and two bars" means that the Distinguished Service Order was awarded on three separate occasions. A British convention is to indicate bars by the use of asterisks. Bars are used on long service medals to indicate the length of service rendered; the two terms are used because terms. Prior to the early 19th century and decorations were only awarded to ranking officers. One exception was the Army Gold Medal issued to higher ranking participants in the Peninsular War.
A medal was given with a clasp for each battle fought. After four clasps were earned the medal was turned in for a cross with the battle names on the arms, additional clasps were added; the maximum was achieved with a cross and nine clasps. Over the next 40 years, it became customary for governments to present a medal to all soldiers and officers involved in a campaign; these medals were engraved with the names of the major battles the recipient had fought in during the campaign. The main disadvantages of this system were that new medals had to be created for each campaign or war, that it was impossible to tell at a glance if the recipient was only a participant in the campaign overall, or if he had been involved in one or several major actions; the Sutlej Medal was the earliest medal. It was awarded to British Army and Honourable East India Company soldiers who fought in the First Anglo-Sikh War between 1845 and 1846; the first battle the recipient participated in would be engraved on the medal itself.
If the recipient had participated in multiple engagements, silver bars bearing the name of each additional battle were attached to the medal's ribbon. This method of notation evolved again on the Punjab Campaign medal, where the standard medal was awarded to all that had served during the campaign, with bars produced for the three major battles; the creation of bars led to the development of'General Service' medals, which would be presented to any soldier serving in a general region or time frame. Bars would be awarded to denote the particular war the recipient fought in; the 1854 India General Service Medal was awarded to soldiers over a 41-year period. Twenty-three clasps were created for this award, becoming one of the more extreme uses of this system; the British Naval General Service Medal, was authorised in 1847 with some 231 clasps for actions ranging from minor skirmishes to certain campaigns and all full-fledged battles between 1793 and 1840. The Crimea Medal was issued with ornate battle bars.
Since the general trend has been to have simple horizontal devices. Campaign bars or battle bars are used to denote the particular campaign, battle, or region the recipient operated in to receive the award; this is the most common use of medal bars on military decorations. In the United Kingdom, campaign bars are known as clasps and when the ribbon alone is worn they are sometimes indicated by rosettes, although this is not authorised. Examples of ones that were issued are the "under enemy fire" clasp on the 1914 Star and the Battle of Britain clasp on the 1939-45 Star. In the United States Military, Service stars are used to indicate participation in multiple battles or campaigns, although the World War I Victory Medal had an extensive system of bars. Starting with World War II the Arrowhead device was authorized for assault landings. In this conflict a unique variation of the Service star was the Wake Island Device, a "W" placed on the ribbons of the Navy and Marine Corps Expeditionary Medals.
This was issued to represent the medal bar for fighting in the Battle of Wake Island. Achievement bars are used to indicate a additional feat associated with the medal; as an example, the Wintered Over Device attached to the United States Antarctica Service Medal indicates that the recipient performed a tour of duty during the Antarctic winter. Service bars indicate the length of service a person has provided to the organisation presenting the award; this type of bar is most found on long service medals for the military and emergency services. Multiple award bars display the number of times a decoration for merit or distinguished service has been awarded. In the United States, Oak Leaf Clusters and Stars, rather than bars, are issued for receiving the same award multiple times. In the United Kingdom, each bar is indicated by a rosette. Dorling, Henry Taprell. Ribb
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is a military award of the United States Armed Forces, first created in 1961 by Executive Order of President John Kennedy. The medal is awarded to members of the U. S. Armed Forces who, after July 1, 1958, participated in U. S. military operations, U. S. operations in direct support of the United Nations, or U. S. operations of assistance for friendly foreign nations. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is issued as 1-1/4 inches in diameter; the obverse side of the medal consists of an eagle, with wings addorsed and inverted, standing on a sword loosened in its scabbard, super- imposed on a radiant compass rose of eight points, all within the circumscription "ARMED FORCES" above and "EXPEDITIONARY SERVICE" below with a sprig of laurel on each side. On the reverse side of the medal is the shield from the United States Coat of Arms above two laurel branches separated by a bullet, all within the circumscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"; the ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3/32 inch Green.
Ribbon devicesA bronze service star is authorized for participation in subsequent U. S. Military operations authorized for award of the AFEM. A silver service star is worn in lieu of five bronze service stars; the Arrowhead device is authorized for United States Army and United States Air Force personnel who are awarded the medal through participation in an airborne or amphibious assault. The Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia is authorized for U. S. Navy service members assigned to Marine Corps units that participate in combat during the assignment; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal may be authorized for three categories of operations: U. S. military operations. S. military operations in direct support of the United Nations. S. operations of assistance for friendly foreign nations. The medal shall be awarded only for operations for which no other U. S. campaign medal is approved, where a foreign armed opposition or imminent threat of hostile action was encountered. Since its original conception in 1961, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal has been awarded for United States participation in over forty five designated military campaigns.
The first campaign of the AFEM was the Cuban Missile Crisis and the award was issued for military service between October 1962 and June 1963. Following this original issuance, the AFEM was made retroactive to 1958 and issued for actions in Lebanon, Republic of the Congo and Matsu, for duty in Berlin between 1961 and 1963. During the early years of the Vietnam War, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued for initial operations in South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was intended to replace the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Navy Expeditionary Medal, but this never occurred and both services continue to award their service expeditionary medals and the AFEM, though not concurrently for the same action. In 1965, with the creation of the Vietnam Service Medal, the AFEM was discontinued for Vietnam War service; as the Vietnam Service Medal was retroactively authorized, those personnel who had received the AFEM were granted the option to exchange the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the Vietnam Service Medal.
In 1968, the AFEM was awarded for Naval operations in defense of the USS Pueblo, seized by North Korea, as well as for Korean Service, awarded for Thailand and Cambodia operations in 1973. Because of these awards during the Vietnam War period, some military personnel have been awarded both the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal & the Vietnam Service Medal; some military advisers involved in the 1973 Arab–Israeli War were awarded the medal for their involvement in the supply and training of the IDF on the use and deployment of anti-tank weapons. In 2003, with the creation of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the AFEM was discontinued for Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait. After 18 March 2003, some personnel became eligible for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, as well as the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Only one medal may be awarded and individuals or units that deployed to the Gulf for Operation Southern Watch, immediately transitioned to Operation Iraqi Freedom, are not eligible for both medals.
Beginning in 1992 an effort was begun to phase out the AFEM in favor of campaign specific medals and the newly created Armed Forces Service Medal. The Armed Forces Service Medal was originally intended to be a replacement for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, however the two awards are considered separate awards with different award criteria; the primary difference between the two is that the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is awarded for combat operations and combat support missions. After the close of the Vietnam War, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued for various military operations in Panama and Libya Operation El Dorado Canyon; the medal is authorized for several United Nations actions, such as peacekeeping efforts in Somalia. The medal is authorized for NATO peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Croatia; the AFEM has been issued for numerous operations in the Persian Gulf, most notably Operation Earnest Will, which began in 1987 and lasted until the eve of Operation Desert Shield.