The Afghanistan Campaign Medal was established by Executive Order 13363, signed by President George W. Bush on November 29, 2004. This Executive Order was promulgated in response to Public Law 108-234 which recommended the establishment of campaign medals for both Afghanistan and Iraq. The Department of Defense originally established the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal to be awarded to personnel who fought in Afghanistan (and other places). This produced a tidal wave of opposition by veterans and others who wanted specific campaign medals for both Afghanistan and Iraq. When the Department of Defense refused to establish those medals, in a highly unusual move Congress essentially overrode the Department of Defense by recommending the Afghanistan and Iraq Campaign Medals.
The Afghanistan Campaign Medal may be awarded to members of the Uniformed Services of the United States who serve or who have served in Afghanistan (or its contiguous air space) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from September 11, 2001 to a date to be announced or upon the cessation of Operation Enduring Freedom. The beginning eligibility date was originally October 24, 2001, which was 17 days after American warplanes started bombing Kabul and five days after Army Rangers conducted a nighttime parachute drop on a desert airfield. The Defense Department refused to move the eligibility date back, so Congress made the change in the 2006 military spending Bill, which was signed by President Bush on January 6, 2006.
To be eligible for the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, a Service member must be assigned or attached to a unit participating in Operation Enduring Freedom for 30 consecutive days or for 60 nonconsecutive days in Afghanistan or meet one of the following criteria:
The Afghanistan Campaign Medal is worn after the Kosovo Campaign Medal and before the Iraq Campaign Medal.
Originally, service stars were not authorized for the Aghanistan Campaign Medal; however, in February of 2008 that policy was reversed and the following service stars (and their respective qualifying dates) were authorized:
The basic design of the obverse of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal was executed by The Institute of Heraldry; and modified at the request of the Awards and Decorations Branch of the US Marine Corps.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
In the lower half of a bronze medallion, a range of mountains; in the upper half of the medallion, a map of Afghanistan. Following the contour of the medal is the inscription, AFGHANISTAN CAMPAIGN.
In the center of a bronze medallion, a radiating demi-sun superimposed by an eagle's head facing to the viewer's left. Across the bottom half of the reverse is the three-line inscription FOR SERVICE / IN / AFGHANISTAN.
The color combination of the ribbon represents the colors of the new Afghanistan flag as well as the United States and its Allies. The ribbon as central pinstripes of red/white/blue/white/red, bordered by larger stripes of white, which are in turn bordered by black, red, and green.