Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Description :

The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) is a military award of the United States military , which was first created in 1961 by Executive Order of President John Kennedy . The decoration is awarded for participation in "any military campaign of the United States for which no other service medal is authorized." Additional awards of the medal are denoted by service stars , with the arrowhead device also authorized for United States Army personnel who are awarded the decoration through participation in an airborne or amphibious assault. The Fleet Marine Force combat operation insignia is also authorized for certain sailors.

Since its original conception over forty years ago, 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 , 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 . 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, which was seized by North Korea. Because of this some military personnel have been awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal & the Vietnam Service Medal. 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 . 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 Storm. 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 . The medal is also authorized for several United Nations actions, such as peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and Somalia . 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 trasitioned to Operation Iraqi Freedom , are not eligible for both medals

A complete listing of approved operations for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is as follows:

  • Quemoy and Matsu Islands 23 August 1956 - 1 June 1963
  • Lebanon 1 July 1958 - 1 November 1958
  • Taiwan Straits 23 August 1958 - 1 January 1959
  • Vietnam (General Service) 1 July 1958 - 3 July 1965
  • Congo 14 July 1960 - 1 September 1962
  • Laos 19 April 1961 - 7 October 1962
  • Berlin 14 August 1961 - 1 June 1963
  • Cuba 24 October 1962 - 1 June 1963
  • Congo 23 November 1964 to 27 November 1964
  • Dominican Republic 28 April 1965 - 21 September 1966
  • Korea 1 October 1966 - 30 June 1974; also eligible for the Korean Defense Service Medal for same timeframe as a DOD exception to policy
  • Cambodia 29 March 1973 - 15 August 1973 (Vietnam Support Operations)
  • Cambodia (Evacuation-Operation Eagle Pull) 11 April 1975 - 13 April 1975
  • Thailand (Cambodia Support Operations) 29 March 1973 - 15 August 1973
  • Vietnam (Evacuation: Operation Frequent Wind ) 29 April 1975 - 30 April 1975; may exchange AFEM for Vietnam Service Medal
  • Mayagüez Operation 15 May 1975
  • El Salvador 1 January 1981 - 1 February 1992
  • Lebanon 1 June 1983 - 1 December 1987
  • 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 - 1 August 1990
  • Panama ( Operation Just Cause ) 20 December 1989 - 31 January 1990
  • Somalia ( Operation Restore Hope , Operation United Shield ) 5 December 1992 - 31 March 1995
  • Haiti ( Operation Uphold Democracy ) 16 September 1994 - 31 March 1995
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia 1 June 1992 - 20 June 1998
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia , and Hungary ( Operation Joint Guard ) 20 December 1996 - 20 June 1998; also entitled to Armed Forces Service Medal for above same timeframe as an exception to policy
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia , Italy , Hungary , former Yugoslavia , ( Operation Joint Endeavor ) 20 November 1995 - 19 December 1998; also entitled to Armed Forces Service Medal for same timeframe as a DOD exception to policy
  • Southwest Asia ( Operation Southern Watch ) 1 December 1995 - 18 March 2003
  • Southwest Asia (Maritime Intercept Operation) 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
  • Yugoslavia ( Operation Joint Forge ) 21 June 1998 - 2 December 2004
  • Haiti ( Operation Secure Tomorrow ) 29 February 2004 - 15 June 2004

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 . To date, however, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is still listed on official precedence charts and the decoration is still considered an active service medal.

The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal is similar in nature to the AFEM, and was awarded for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom up until June 2005 when it was replaced by the Iraq Campaign Medal for Operations directly in Iraq and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for Operations directly in Afghanistan. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is no longer currently issued for operations in the Middle East , but may be reactivated for future campaigns which may not qualify for either the GWOTEM, the Iraq Campaign Medal or Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

The United States Air Force also maintains a decoration known as the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon . Despite the similarity in names, however, this award is unrelated to the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and rather is presented for duty performed on Air Force deployments.

On a bronze medal, 1 1/4 inches in diameter, an eagle, with wings addorsed and inverted, standing on a sword loosened in its scabbard, and super- imposed on a radiant compass rose of eight points, all within the circumscription "ARMED FORCES" above and "EXPEDITIONARY SERVICE" below with a sprig of laurel on each side. On the reverse 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". 

Ribbon :

The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3/16 inch green 67129; 3/16 inch golden yellow 67104; 3/16 inch spicebrown 67196; 3/16 inch black 67138; 7/16 inch bluebird 67117; 1/8 inch ultramarine blue 67118; 1/8 inch white 67101; 1/8 inch scarlet; 7/16 inch bluebird; 3/16 inch black; 3/16 inch spicebrown; 3/16 inch golden yellow; and 3/16 inch green. 

Criteria :

a. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal may be awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who after 1 July 1958 participate as members of U.S. military units in a U.S. military operation in which service members of any Military Department participate, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), in significant numbers and encounter during such participation foreign armed opposition, or are otherwise place in such a position that in the opinion of the JCS, hostile action by foreign armed forces was imminent even though it does not materialize. 

b. 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 to friendly foreign nations. 

c. The medal shall be awarded only for operations for which no other U.S. campaign medal is approved.