The Armed Forces Service Medal was established by Executive Order 12985 signed by President William J. Clinton on January 11, 1996.
The Armed Forces Service Medal may be awarded for qualifying service performed on or after June 1, 1992.
The Armed Forces Service Medal may be awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after June 1, 1992:
- Participate (or who have participated) in, as member of U.S. a military unit, a military operation that is deemed to be a "significant activity;" and,
- Encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent threat of hostile action.
- The Service member must be bona fide members of a unit participating for one or more days in the operation within the designated area of eligibility, or meet one or more of the following criteria:
The Armed Forces Service Medal may be authorized for significant U.S. military activities for which no other U.S. campaign or service medal is appropriate, such as:
- Be engaged in direct support for 30 consecutive days in the area of eligibility (or for the full period when an operation is of less than 30 days duration) or for 60 nonconsecutive days, provided this support involves entering the area of eligibility.
- Participate as a regularly assigned crew member of an aircraft flying into, out of, or over the area of eligibility in support of the operation.
- Peacekeeping operations;
- Prolonged humanitarian operations; or,
- Military operations in direct support of the United Nations or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and for operational assistance to friendly foreign nations.
The Armed Forces Service Medal provides recognition to participants who deploy to the designated area of eligibility for the qualifying operation. Outstanding or meritorious performance of nondeployed or remotely located support units and individuals is not justification for award of this medal (such performance may be recognized by appropriate unit and/or individual decorations).
Because the Armed Forces Service Medal may be awarded for a prolonged humanitarian operation, distinction between the Armed Forces Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal must be maintained.
The Humanitarian Service Medal is an individual award, presented to individuals who are physically present at the site of immediate relief and who directly contribute to and influence the humanitarian action. The Humanitarian Service Medal is only awarded for service during the identified "period of immediate relief;" eligibility for the Humanitarian Service Medal terminates once (if) the humanitarian action evolves into an "established ongoing operation beyond the initial emergency condition."
The Armed Forces Service Medal is a theater award, authorized for presentation to all participants who meet eligibility requirements established for a designated operation.
For operations in which all deployed participants are awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal and for which the "period of immediate relief" coincides with the duration of significant deployed operations, award of the Armed Forces Service Medal is not authorized.
Humanitarian operations for which some (or all) participants awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal, which continue beyond the "period of immediate relief," may be recognized by award of the Armed Forces Service Medal. The Armed Forces Service Medal may be awarded for the entire period of the operation; individuals awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for direct participation during the "period of immediate relief" are also eligible for the Armed Forces Service Medal, if it is awarded.
"Significant activity" is defined as a U.S. military operation considered to be of such a high degree of scope, impact, and national or international significance as to warrant the permanent commemoration and recognition afforded by award of a campaign or service medal.
The "area of eligibility" is defined as:
"Direct support" is defined as services being supplied to participating forces in the area of eligibility by ground units, ships, and aircraft provided it involves actually entering the designated area of eligibility. This includes units, ships, and aircraft providing logistic, patrol, guard, reconnaissance, or other military support within the designated area of eligibility.
- The foreign territory on which troops have actually landed or are present and specifically deployed for the operation;
- Adjacent water areas in which ships are operating, patrolling, or providing direct support for the operation; and,
- The air space above and adjacent to the area in which operations are being conducted.
The following limitations apply to the Armed Forces Service Medal:
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
- The medal shall be awarded only for operations for which no other U.S. campaign or service medal is approved;
- For operations in which personnel of only one Military Department participate, the Armed Forces Service Medal shall be awarded only if there is no other suitable award available to that Department;
- The military service of the Service member on which qualification for the award of the Armed Forces Service Medal is based must be honorable;
- Award of the Armed Forces Service Medal is not authorized for participation in national or international exercises; and,
- The Armed Forces Service Medal will not be awarded for NATO or UN operations not involving significant, concurrent U.S. military support operations.
The Armed Forces Service Medal is worn after the Korea Defense Service Medal.
Additional awards of the Armed Forces Service Medal are denoted by 3/16-inch bronze stars. A 3/16-inch silver star will be worn in lieu of five bronze stars.
The Armed Forces Service Medal was designed by Nadine Russell of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.
The identity of the first recipient of the Armed Forces Service Medal is not known.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
In the center of a bronze medallion one and three-eighths inches in diameter, a demi-torch (as on the Statue of Liberty) is shown encircled at the top by the inscription, ARMED FORCES SERVICE MEDAL.
The torch, adapted from the Statue of Liberty, represents the principles of democracy as well as leadership and guidance.
In the center of a bronze medallion one and three-eighths inches in diameter, an eagle (as on the seal of the Department of Defense) is shown between a wreath of laurel at the base and the inscription IN PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY at the top.
The eagle, adapted from the seal of the Department of Defense, reflects the scope of the award and its applicability. Laurel is for honor and achievement.
The medal is suspended from a ribbon one and three-eighths inches in width consisting of the following stripes: 1/16" Goldenlight; 1/8" Bottle (Jungle) Green; 1/8" Green; 1/8" Mosstone; 1/8" Goldenlight; 1/4" Bluebird; 1/8" Goldenlight; 1/8" Mosstone; 1/8" Green; 1/8" Bottle (Jungle) Green; and 1/16" Goldenlight.
Green denotes life and growth; medium blue is the color used by the Department of Defense, and gold is for honor.
The following operations qualify for the Armed Forces Service Medal:
- MARITIME MONITOR: June 1 to December 1, 1992
(NATO maritime surveillance of cargo transported through the Adriatic Sea to the Former Yugolsavia)
- PROVIDE PROMISE: July 2, 1992 to February 15, 1996
(Multinational operation to support humanitarian relief activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina)
- DENY FLIGHT: April 12, 1993 to December 2, 1995
(NATO enforcement of the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina)
- SHARP GUARD: June 15, 1993 to September 20, 1996
(NATO maritime enforcement of UN embargo against the former Yugoslavia. US participation was amended by the November 1994 Nunn-Mitchell Act to exclude US enforcement of the arms embargo against Bosnia. NATO enforcement actions ended in June of 1996 and the operation was terminated in September of 1996, following the lifting of the UN embargo and associated economic sanctions.
- TASK FORCE ABLE SENTRY: July 12, 1993 to March 31, 1999
(Support to the UN Preventive Deployment force in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Upon expiration of the UN mandate in February of 1999, US forces remained in place and were renamed Task Force SABRE, tasked to protect US facilities and equipment. They were relieved in June of 1999 by the US national support element to KFOR - Task Force FALCON (Rear).
- JOINT ENDEAVOR: November 20, 1995 to June 20, 1998
(NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) operation to implement the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia-Herzegovina).
- JOINT GUARD: December 20, 1996 to June 20, 1998
(NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) to deter resumption of hostilities and to stabilize the peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina in accordance with the Dayton Peace Accords (preceded by NATO Operation Joint Endeavor and followed by Joint Forge). Operations Deliberate Guard and Determined Guard were the respective air and naval components).
- JOINT FORGE: June 21, 1998 to a date to be determined
(NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) follow-on force (FOF) providing a continued military presence in order to deter resumption of hostilities in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to contribute to a secure environment which will promote the re-establishment of civil authority in accordance with the Dayton Peace Accords. Operaitions Deliberate Forge and Determined Forge are the respective air and naval components. the US contribution to SFOR was Task Force Eagle).
- HAITI OPERATIONS (Uphold Democracy)
- United Nations Mission Haiti (April 1, 1995 to January 31, 2000)
- U.S. Forces Haiti (April 1, 1995 to January 31, 2000
- U.S. Support Group, Haiti (April 1, 1995 to January 31, 2000
- PROVIDE COMFORT: December 1, 1995 - December 31, 1996
(Combined Task Force to enforce the no-fly zone in northern Iraq above the 36th parallel and to support coalition humanitarian relief operations in northern Iraq).