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Exception Allows Expeditionary Medal For Balkans

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 23, 1999 – It is bronze, 1 1/4 inches in diameter, and displays the image of an eagle standing on a sword loosened in it scabbard. It is the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and today the Pentagon announced that it will be awarded to service members who took part in or provided direct support to operations Joint Endeavor or Joint Guard in the Balkans.

In a one-time exception to policy, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has approved the award in addition to the Armed Forces Service Medal for qualified service in the Balkan operations. For awards purposes, Operation Joint Endeavor began Nov. 20, 1995, and ended Dec. 19, 1996; Operation Joint Guard began Dec. 20, 1996, and ended June 20, 1998. Officials estimate 50,000 service members are affected.

U.S. service members normally may receive the expeditionary medal for major operations that encounter foreign armed resistance or the service medal for major operations that don't. The expeditionary medal is the higher of the two. Prior to today's announcement, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had designated 22 operations for which the expeditionary medal may be awarded.

Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended Cohen approve the one-time exception to Defense Department and service policies that limit members to one decoration for an act, achievement or period of service. Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard participants already had the service medal or were eligible for it when Congress authorized the expeditionary medal in the fiscal 1998 defense authorization act and allowed the secretary to make an exception.

The expeditionary medal is authorized to service members who participated in or provided direct support to Joint Endeavor or Joint Guard while deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina or Croatia, aboard U.S. naval vessels operating in the Adriatic Sea, or as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying to, from or over the two countries or the Adriatic.

To qualify for the expeditionary medal, a person must have been a member of a unit engaged in Joint Endeavor or Joint Guard for at least one day in the designated geographic area of eligibility or must have deployed to the area as an individual on official orders for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days.

Expeditionary and service medals for participation in the Balkan operations are each awarded only once. Even if they served in both Balkan operations or multiple times, service members can receive no more than one of each medal -- bronze service stars are not authorized.

Service members with questions should contact their local personnel offices.

Past Armed Forces Service Medal recipients who don't meet criteria for the expeditionary medal retain their awards and are unaffected by the new exception.

President John F. Kennedy authorized the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal in 1961. The medal covered operations from 1958 on. The Joint Chiefs of Staff designates eligible operations. Among them are: Lebanon (1958); Vietnam (July 1958- July 1965); Berlin (1961-1963); Grenada (1983); Lebanon (1983- 1987); and Panama (Dec. 20, 1989-Jan. 31, 1990).

The Armed Forces Service Medal has a more recent history. Authorized in 1996, the medal was intended to meet fill a void in criteria between the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal. The medal was authorized for Yugoslavia and Haiti.

To see an image of the medal and for additional historical background, go to Army Personnel Command "Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal."

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