|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|Presented by||the Department of Defense|
|Eligibility||Served in the U.S. Armed Forces after July 1, 1958, and 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.|
|Established||Executive Order 10977, December 4, 1961|
Service ribbon and streamer
|Next (higher)||Antarctica Service Medal|
|Next (lower)||Vietnam Service Medal|
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces, which was 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 a bronze medal, 1 1⁄4 inches in diameter.
The obverse side of the medal consists of an eagle, with wings addorsed and inverted (representing the strength of the United States Armed Forces), standing on a sword loosened in its scabbard, and super- imposed on a radiant compass rose of eight points, (representing the readiness to serve wherever needed) 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, 3⁄32 inch Golden Yellow, 3⁄32 inch Spicebrown, 3⁄32 inch Black, 7⁄32 inch Bluebird, 1⁄16 inch Ultramarine Blue, 1⁄16 inch White, 1⁄16 inch Scarlet, 7⁄32 inch Bluebird, 3⁄32 inch Black, 3⁄32 inch Spicebrown, 3⁄32 inch Golden Yellow and 3⁄32 inch Green.
A bronze service star is authorized for participation in subsequent U.S. military operations authorized for award of the AFEM (only one award is authorized for each designated U.S. military operation). A silver service star is worn in lieu of five bronze service stars.
The Arrowhead device is authorized for United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Space 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; U.S. military operations in direct support of the United Nations; and U.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, Taiwan, Republic of the Congo, Quemoy and Matsu, and 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, Laos, 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 previously 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 (AGER-2), which was seized by North Korea, as well as for Korean Service, and 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 also awarded the medal for their involvement in the supply and training of the IDF on the use and deployment of anti-tank weapons.
In the 1990s, it was awarded to numerous Naval ships such as USS Simpson (FFG-56) who enforced the Dayton Peace Accords and operated in the Adriatic Sea enforcing UN arms embargo against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and participating in Operation Sharp Guard and Operation Joint Endeavor up through and during the Bosnian crisis.
In 2003, with the creation of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the AFEM was discontinued for Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and 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, however, and individuals or units that deployed to the Gulf for Operation Southern Watch, and then 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 also originally intended to be a replacement for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, however the two awards are currently considered separate awards with different award criteria. The primary difference between the two is that the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is normally 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, Grenada, and Libya Operation El Dorado Canyon.
|Area or operation||Start date||End date|
|Quemoy and Matsu Islands||23 August 1956||1 June 1963|
|Lebanon (1958 Lebanon crisis)||1 July 1958||1 November 1958|
|Taiwan Straits (Second Taiwan Strait Crisis)||23 August 1958||1 January 1959|
|Berlin (Berlin Crisis)||14 August 1961||1 June 1963|
|Cuba||24 October 1962||1 June 1963|
|Congo (Operation Dragon Rouge)||23 November 1964||27 November 1964|
|Dominican Republic (Operation Power Pack)||28 April 1965||21 September 1966|
|Korea||1 October 1966||30 June 1974|
|Arab–Israeli War (Operation Nickel Grass)||October 6, 1973||October 25, 1973|
|Cambodia (Evacuation-Operation Eagle Pull)||11 April 1975||13 April 1975|
|Vietnam (Evacuation Operation Frequent Wind)||29 April 1975||30 April 1975|
|Mayagüez Operation||15 May 1975||15 May 1975|
|Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury)||23 October 1983||21 November 1983|
|Libya (Operation El Dorado Canyon)||12 April 1986||17 April 1986|
|Persian Gulf (Operation Earnest Will)||24 July 1987||26 September 1988|
|Panama (Operation Just Cause)||20 December 1989||31 January 1990|
|Haiti (Operation Uphold Democracy)||16 September 1994||31 March 1995|
|Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, waters of the Arabian / Persian Gulf (Operation Southern Watch)||December 1995||March 2003|
|Saudi Arabia (Operation Southern Watch)||December 1995||March 2003|
|Haiti (Operation Secure Tomorrow)||29 February 2004||15 June 2004|
|Former Republic of Yugoslavia||1 January 2014||to a date to be determined|
The medal is also authorized for several United Nations actions, such as peacekeeping efforts in Somalia.
|Area or operation||Start date||End date|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||14 July 1960||1 September 1962|
|Somalia (Operation Restore Hope, Operation United Shield)||5 December 1992||31 March 1995|
The medal is also authorized for NATO peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
|Area or operation||Start date||End date|
|Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Operation Joint Endeavor)||1 June 1992||19 December 1996|
|Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Operation Joint Guard)||20 December 1996||20 June 1998|
|Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Operation Joint Forge)||21 June 1998||2 December 2004|
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.Following the close of Desert Storm, and the engagement in peacekeeping and sanction missions against Iraq, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued again for several operations such as Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Vigilant Sentinel.
|Area or operation||Start date||End date|
|Vietnam (General Service)||1 July 1958||3 July 1965|
|Laos||19 April 1961||7 October 1962|
|Cambodia (Vietnam Support Operations)||29 March 1973||15 August 1973|
|Thailand (Cambodia Support Operations)||29 March 1973||15 August 1973|
|El Salvador||1 January 1981||1 February 1992|
|Lebanon||1 June 1983||1 December 1987|
|Persian Gulf (Operation Earnest Will)||24 July 1987||1 August 1990|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Southern Watch)||1 December 1995||18 March 2003|
|Southwest Asia (Maritime Intercept Operations)||1 December 1995||18 March 2003|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Vigilant Sentinel)||1 December 1995||15 February 1997|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Northern Watch)||1 January 1997||18 March 2003|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Desert Thunder)||11 November 1998||22 December 1998|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Desert Fox)||16 December 1998||22 December 1998|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Desert Spring)||31 December 1998||18 March 2003|
Similar awards of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal:
The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (the AFEM is no longer issued for operations in the Middle East, but may be reactivated for future campaigns which may not qualify for either the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal). Similar in nature to the AFEM, the GWOTEM is awarded for deploying abroad on or after Sept. 11, 2001 (and a future date to be determined), for service in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Service stars are also authorized for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal effective February 9, 2015, retroactive to September, 11, 2001.Each service star represents a deployment in support of an approved GWOT operation. Only one GWOT-EM is awarded for each operation (five bronze service stars are authorized for six approved deployment operations). The GWOT-EM approved operations by inclusive dates are:
The Navy Expeditionary Medal and the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. In the modern era, service members who were authorized one of these medals are occasionally permitted to choose between receipt of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the service specific expeditionary medal. The AFEM and the Navy/Marine Expeditionary Medal cannot be bestowed simultaneously for the same action.
The Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon. Although similar in name, this award is unrelated to the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and is presented for duty performed on U.S. Air Force deployments.
The National Defense Service Medal (NDSM) is a service award of the United States Armed Forces established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. It is awarded to every member of the U.S. Armed Forces who has served during any one of four specified periods of armed conflict or national emergency from June 27, 1950 through December 31, 2022. Combat or "in theater" service is not a requirement for the award.
The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, also known as the Vietnam Campaign Medal, is a South Vietnamese military campaign medal which was created in 1949, and awarded to French military personnel during the First Indochina War. During the Vietnam War, the South Vietnamese government awarded the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device to members of the South Vietnamese military for wartime service and on March 24, 1966, to members of the U.S. military for support of operations in Vietnam. In May 1966, other allied foreign military personnel became eligible for the award.
The Vietnam Service Medal is a military award of the United States Armed Forces established on 8 July 1965 by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The medal is awarded to recognize service during the Vietnam War by all members of the U.S. Armed Forces provided they meet the award requirements.
A service star is a miniature bronze or silver five-pointed star 3⁄16 inch in diameter that is authorized to be worn by members of the eight uniformed services of the United States on medals and ribbons to denote an additional award or service period. The service star may also be referred to as a campaign star or battle star depending on which award the star is authorized for and the manner in which the device is used for the award.
The Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia is a miniature 5⁄16 inch bronze United States Marine Corps emblem that may be authorized by the Secretary of the Navy for wear on specific campaign, expeditionary, and service medal ribbons issued to United States Navy sailors attached to and on duty with Fleet Marine Force (FMF) units during combat operations and sailors on duty with Navy units attached to and operating with Fleet Marine Force units while under Marine Corps operational control during combat operations. The device was instituted in 1953 with the Navy and Marine Corps Award Manual dated 1953.
The Afghanistan Campaign Medal (ACM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces which was created by Executive Order 13363 of President George W. Bush on November 29, 2004, and became available for general distribution in June 2005. The medal was designed by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry.
The Iraq Campaign Medal (ICM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces which was created by Executive Order 13363 of U.S. President George W. Bush on 29 November 2004, and became available for general distribution in June 2005. The medal was designed by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry and was awarded during the Iraq War, from 19 March 2003 to 31 December 2011.
The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (GWOT-SM) is a military award of the United States Armed Forces which was created through Executive Order 13289 on 12 March 2003, by President George W. Bush. The medal recognizes those military service members who have supported operations to counter terrorism in the War on Terror from 11 September 2001, to a date yet to be determined.
The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (GWOT-EM) is a United States Armed Forces award created by George W. Bush on 12 March 2003, through Executive Order 13289. The medal recognizes those military service members who have deployed overseas in direct service to the War on Terror from 11 September 2001 to a date to be determined. Prior to 30 April 2005, the medal was awarded for service within Iraq and Afghanistan, but has been replaced with the Iraq Campaign Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal and now serves primarily as recognition for personnel who have deployed in support of the War on Terror to locations beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. In a similar fashion the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal is now issued instead for service in the fight against ISIS, with eligibility retroactive to 15 June 2014.
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