Armed Forces Expeditionary 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.
|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|Awarded 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|
|Next (higher)||Antarctica Service Medal|
|Next (lower)||Vietnam Service Medal|
Service ribbon and streamer
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.
- Ribbon devices
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 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 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.
U.S. military operations
|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|
U.S. operations in direct support of the United Nations
|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|
U.S. operations in direct support of NATO operations
|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|
U.S. operations of assistance for a friendly foreign nation
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:
- Enduring Freedom: September 11, 2001 – present
- Iraqi Freedom: March 19, 2003 - August 31, 2010
- Nomad Shadow: November 5, 2007 – present
- New Dawn (Operation Iraqi Freedom renamed): September 1, 2010 – present December 31, 2011
- Inherent Resolve: June 15, 2014 – present
- Freedom's Sentinel: January 1, 2015 – present
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.
- >Also eligible for the Korean Defense Service Medal for same timeframe as a DOD exception to policy, Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 National Defense Volume 3, dated 7 July 2008
- >May exchange AFEM for Vietnam Service Medal, Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 National Defense Volume 3, dated 7 July 2008
- >The Kosovo Campaign Medal transitioned to the AFEM effective January 1, 2014; hence, start date for award of the AFEM does not coincide with the start date of Operation JOINT GUARDIAN
- >Also entitled to Armed Forces Service Medal for above same timeframe as an exception to policy, Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 National Defense Volume 3, dated 7 July 2008
- >Only for participants deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, The Institute of Heraldry: Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- "Issuances" (PDF). www.esd.whs.mil. 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-09-12. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
- "Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal". The Institute of Heraldry: Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the ARMY. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
- "Rank Ribbons" (PDF). www.studyguides.af.mil.
- Air Force Personnel Center Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine
- "Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal". 3 July 1998. Archived from the original on 1998-07-03.
- Army Regulations 600-8-27 p. 26 paragraph 9-14
- Army Regulations 600-8-27 p. 26 & 28
- "DoD Authorizes Service Stars on Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
- Foster, Frank C. (2002). A complete guide to all United States military medals, 1939 to present. Fountain Inn, S.C.: MOA Press. ISBN 978-1-884-45218-5. OCLC 54755134.
- Kerrigan, Evans E. (1971). American war medals and decorations. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-670-12101-4. OCLC 128058.
- Kerrigan, Evans E. (1990). American medals and decorations. Noroton Heights, CT: Medallic. ISBN 978-0-792-45082-5. OCLC 21467942.