The Southwest Asia Service Medal was established by Executive Order 12754 signed by President George Bush on March 12, 1991.


The Southwest Asia Service Medal is awarded for qualifying service from August 2, 1990 to November 30, 1995 (during Operations Desert Sheild and Desert Storm).


The Southwest Asia Service Medal is awarded for service in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, that portion of the Arabian Sea that lies north of 10 degrees North latitude and west of 68 degrees East longitude, as well as the total land areas of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Individuals serving between January 17, 1991, and November 30, 1995, in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan (including their air space and territorial waters) are also eligible; however, they must have directly supported combat operations (e.g., embassy guards are not eligible). The Service member must have:

  • been attached to or regularly served for one or more days with an organization participating in ground or shore military operations;

  • been attached to or regularly served for one or more days aboard a naval vessel directly supporting military operations;

  • Actually participated as a crew member in one or more aerial flights directly supporting military operations in the areas designated above; or,

  • Served on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non consecutive days (these limitations may be waived for people participating in actual combat operations).


The Southwest Asia Service Medal is worn after the Vietnam Service Medal and before the Kosovo Campaign Medal.


  • A bronze service star shall be worn on the suspension and service ribbon of the medal for participation during either of the following periods of service:
  • Defense of Saudi Arabia: August 2, 1990 to January 16, 1991;

  • The Liberation and Defense of Kuwait: January 17 to April 11, 1991;

  • Cease-Fire Campaign: April 12, 1991 to November 30, 1995

  • Operation Provide Comfort: June 1, 1992 to November 30, 1995.
  • The Fleet Marine Force combat operations insignia may be worn on the Southwest Asia Service Medal by Navy personnel who meet the appropriate requirements.

The Southwest Asia Service Medal was designed by Nadine Russell of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.


The identity of the first recipient of the Southwest Asia Service Medal is not known.



In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, the inscription SOUTHWEST ASIA SERVICE is shown in two lines, with the word SERVICE centered on the second line. Over the inscription, in the top half of the medal, a desert landscape with a tank beneath a rising sun at the eleven o'clock position and an armored personnel carrier beneath attack helicopters at the two o'clock position; and, in the background, two camels. Beneath the inscription is a seascape with a naval vessel in the exergue and two attack aircraft sweeping upward in the eight o'clock position. An oil tanker appears in the distance at the five o'clock position.

The camels on the sand and the oil tanker in the background distinguish the Persian Gulf and the importance of the region. Each of the Armed Forces is represented in the military equipment and collectively they embody the spirit of cooperation among all forces.


In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, an upright unsheathed sword is shown partially covered by a palm branch. The inscription UNITED STATES (to the left of the sword) and OF AMERICA (to the right of the sword) follows the contour of the medal.

The unsheathed sword represents all of the forces and different nations working together to fight oppression, and the palm represents victory as well as being a symbol of the region.


On a chamois background edged in black, a green stripe in the center bisected by a narrow stripe of black. Two sets of blue, white and red pinstripes toward each edge. The chamois color was selected because it looks like sand; the blue white and red pinstripes represent the United States and the green and black "are typically colors associated with that area of the world." The black also symbolizes "solidity, strength and determination."

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