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Reserve "M" Device Explained

By Maj. Donna Miles, USAR
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 1996 – Confusion reigns over who can wear the new "M" device for mobilized reservists, Defense officials said.

Defense Secretary William J. Perry said President Clinton authorized the device more than four months ago to "recognize the sacrifice of our National Guard and reserve people who are mobilized as part of the total force."

Defense officials estimate 282,000 reserve component members are authorized to wear the bronze "M" device on the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

Air Force Col. Fred Reinero, director of military personnel at DoD reserve affairs, said reserve component members who served in support of a contingency operation on or after Aug. 1, 1990, can wear the device. That is limited to the Persian Gulf War, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti and Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia.

The "M" device can be awarded to any guardsman or reservist who served at least one day of active duty in support of a contingency operation; it does not matter whether the member volunteered for duty or deployed to the theater of operations.

Reinero said members in Active Guard and Reserve or temporary active reserve status also qualify, but only if they received military orders changing their current duty status or their duty location or assignment to support a qualifying contingency mission.

The "M" device can be awarded only once for any single operation. However, the "M" device may be awarded more than once to members who support more than one contingency mission. According to Reinero, reserve component service members who served in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War, then supported missions in Somalia, Haiti or Bosnia, qualify for multiple awards. After the first award of the "M" device, qualifying individuals receive an Arabic numeral indicating the number of times the device has been awarded. The numeral is worn on the Armed Forces Reserve Medal ribbon to the right of the "M" device.

Reinero said department guidance on the "M" device made other changes in the wear of the Armed Forces Reserve Medal. Before, the medal was awarded after 10 years of satisfactory military service in one or more reserve component. The so-called "hourglass device" represented succeeding 10-year periods of service.

Now, the rules for the hourglass award have been changed to distinguish between members who earn the Armed Forces Reserve Medal for 10 years of reserve service and those who earn the medal for serving in a contingency operation.

Under the new guidelines, Reinero said, a bronze hourglass now represents the first 10 years of reserve service. A silver hourglass denotes the second 10 years of service and a gold hourglass, the third 10year period. Guard and reserve members who complete 40 years of reserve service will now wear both gold and bronze hourglasses on the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.

Officials will change the DoD Manual of Military Decorations and Awards to prescribe the appropriate wear of both the "M" and hourglass devices on the Armed Forces Reserve Medal. The revised manual is expected out soon.

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