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:

  • Be engaged in actual combat against the enemy and under circumstances involving grave danger of death or serious bodily injury from enemy action, regardless of the time in Afghanistan.

  • While participating in Operation Enduring Freedom or on official duties, regardless of time, is killed, wounded, or injured requiring medical evacuation from Afghanistan.

  • While participating as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying sorties into, out of, within, or over Afghanistan in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom; each day that one or more sorties are flown in accordance with these criteria shall count as one day towards the 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive day requirement.

  • Service members who qualified for the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal by reason of service in Afghanistan between October 24, 2001 and April 30, 2005 shall remain qualified for that medal. However, any Service member who wishes to do so may be awarded the Afghanistan Campaign Medal in lieu of the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for that service. Additionally, any Army soldier authorized the arrowhead device may be awarded the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with arrowhead device in lieu of the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with arrowhead device.

  • No Service member shall be entitled to both the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for the same act, achievement, or period of serivce.

  • Only one award of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal may be authorized for any individual.

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:

  • Liberation of Afghanistan (September 11, 2001 to November 30, 2001)
  • Consolidation I (December 1, 2001 to September 30, 2006)
  • Consolidation II (October 1, 2006 to November 30, 2009)
  • Consolidation III (December 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011)
  • Transition I (July 1, 2011 to a date to be announced)

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.



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.

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