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Navy & Marine Corps Awards and Decorations
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
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Authorization. E.O. 10977 of 4 December 1961.

Eligibility Requirements

(1) Personnel Eligibility. Awarded to personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States who after 1 July 1958:

(a) Participate, or have participated, as members of U.S. military units in a U.S. military operation in which, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, personnel of any military department participate in significant numbers.

(b) Encounter, during such participation, foreign armed opposition, or are otherwise placed, or have been placed, in such position that, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hostile action by foreign armed forces was imminent even though such hostile action did not materialize.

(2) Categories of Operations. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal may be authorized for three categories of operations:

(a) U.S. military operations.

(b) U.S. operations in direct support of the United Nations.

(c) U.S. operations of assistance to friendly foreign nations.

(3) Definitions

(a) The “Area of Operations” is defined as:

1. The foreign territory upon which U.S. Armed Forces have actually landed or are present and specifically deployed for the direct support of the designated military operation.

2. Adjacent water areas in which U.S. ships are operating, patrolling or providing direct support of operations.

3. The airspace above and adjacent to the area in which operations are being conducted. Ships and units which are present in an area merely for training purposes are not eligible for the award.

(b) “Direct Support” is defined as the supply by ground units, ships and aircraft, of services and/or supplies and equipment to combat forces in the area of operations, provided such support involves actually entering the designated area and furnishing fire, patrol, guard, reconnaissance or other military support.

(4) Degree of Participation. Personnel must be bonafide members of a unit engaged in the operation (see note below) or meet one or more of the following criteria:

(a) Serve not less than 30 consecutive days in the area of operations.

(b) Engage in direct support of the operation for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days, provided such support involves entering the area of operations.

(c) Serve for the full period when an operation is less than 30 days.

(d) Engage in actual combat or duty which is equally as hazardous as combat duty, during an operation against armed opposition, regardless of time in the area.

(e) Participate as a regularly assigned crew member of an aircraft flying into, out of, within or over the area in support of the military operation.

(f) Be recommended or attached to a unit recommended for the award by CNO or the commander of a unified or specified command for award of the medal, although the criteria above may not have been fulfilled.

(g) Personnel are entitled to the award if they were attached to or serving on board a ship/unit for 1 day or more during the period(s) for which that ship/unit is listed as eligible. This includes personnel attached to a squadron or unit embarked in a ship during the period(s) for which that ship is listed as eligible. Members of rear echelons, transients, observers and personnel assigned for short periods of TAD and training duty are normally not eligible for the award; however, consideration will be given in those instances where the cognizant commander certifies a particular and significant contribution by an individual. Such certification should be submitted to CNO/CMC via the fleet commander who exercised operational control in the area involved.

(5) Operations. The following operations have been designated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as qualifying for award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal:

(a) U.S. Military Operations

1. Berlin.......14 Aug 61 to 01 Jun 63. Including the City of West Berlin.

2. Cuba.........24 Oct 62 to 01 Jun 63.

NOTE. Although terminal date of Cuban operations was established by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as 01 Jun 63, no Navy/Marine Corps units are considered to be eligible after 31 Dec 62. Water area between 12N and 28N latitudes and 66W and 84W longitudes.

3. Dominican Republic...28 Ap r65 to 21 Sep 66. The area is composed of the contiguous water and airspace within the following boundaries: from the point 17N, 75W; eastward to 17N, 67-45W; thence northward to 20-25N, 73-35W; thence southwestward to 18-40N, 75W; thence south to the initial point at 17N, 75W.

4. Lebanon..............01 Jul 58 to 01 Nov 58. The area is geographically composed of the adjacent water area defined as that portion of the Mediterranean Sea east of 31E longitude.

5. Quemoy and Matsu Islands...23 Aug 58 to 01 Jun 63. The area is composed of the water area 21N to 26N and 116E to 121E.

6. Taiwan Straits.......23 Aug 58 to 01 Jan 59. The area is composed of the water area from 19N to 28N between 117E and 123E.

7. Congo.......23 Nov 64 - 27 Nov 64. The area is composed of the land and water area of the Congo.

8. Korea.......0l Oct 66 to 30 Jun 74. This includes the entire land mass of the Republic of Korea and the waters and air space enclosed by the following boundaries: From a point located at 32N on the Coast of China, east to 32N by 129-20E; thence northeastward to 36N by 134E; thence north to the Coast of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); thence along the coastline of the USSR, Korea and China to the initial point.

9. Cambodia Evacuation (Operation EAGLE PULL).....11-13 Apr 75.

10. Vietnam Evacuation (Operation FREQUENT WIND)...29-30 Apr 75.

11. Mayaguez Operation.........15 May 75.

12. Grenada Operation..........23 Oct 83 - 21 Nov 83.

NOTE. The island nation of Grenada, including Grenada, Carriacou, Green, Hog, Calivigny, other outlying islands and the territorial seas of Grenada; waters adjacent to Grenada in which Atlantic Fleet ships operated in direct support of operations in Grenada; the airspace above Grenada and the adjacent sea areas where the operations were conducted; and the Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados.

13. Libya (Operation ELDORADO CANYON)...12-17 Ap r86. The area of operations where U.S. forces were employed is bounded by the following coordinates: 37N, 11E to 37N, 21E to 34N 25E to 23N, 25E to 23N, 11E to 37N, 11E.

14. Panama (Operation JUST CAUSE) 20 Dec 89 - 31 Jan 90. The total land area of Panama, including internal waters, territorial seas, and airspace thereover.

15. Haiti (Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY) 16 Sep 94 - 31 Mar 95. The area of operations consists of the total land area, sea and air space defined by the following coordinates: 16-30N, 71-40W; 18-00N, 71-45W; along the Haitian-Dominican Republic Border to 20-00N, 71-44W; 21-00N, 71-40W; 21-25N/73-00W; 21-25N, 74-00W; 20-00N, 74-00W; 19-45N, 75-00W; 19-00N, 76-00W; 16-30N, 76-00W; to 16-30N, 71-40W.

(b) U.S. Operations in Direct Support of the United Nations.

1. Congo.......14 Jul 60 to 1 Sep 62. Water area from 3S to 9S between 9E and the mainland of Africa.

2. Somalia (Operation RESTORE HOPE and UNITED SHIELD) 05 Dec 92 to 31 Mar 95. The area operation is from 20N northward to 30-30E and from 46-36E eastward to 63E.

(c) U.S. Operations Assisting Friendly Foreign Nations.

1. Laos.........19 Apr 61 to 07 Oct 62.

2. Vietnam.......0l Jul 58 to 03 Jul 65. Water areas from a point on the east coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with China southeastward to 21N, 108-15E; thence southward to 18N, 108-15E; thence southeastward to 17-30N, 111E; thence southward to 11N, lllE; thence southwestward to 7N, 105E; thence westward to 7N, 103E; thence northward to 9-30N, 103E; thence northeastward to l0-15N, 104-27E; thence northward to a point on the west coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with Cambodia. In addition, the area has been extended to include the land mass encompassing Thailand.

3. Cambodia (land only) 29 Mar 73 to 15 Aug 73.

4. Thailand.......29 Mar 73 to 15 Aug 73. (Only those in direct support of Cambodia operations).

5. Lebanon........01 Jun 83 to 01 Dec 87.

NOTE. The terminal date of Lebanon operations was established by Joint Chiefs of Staff as 01 Dec 87; no Navy ships/units are considered to be eligible after 01 Aug 84. Marine Security Guard personnel or other personnel serving “in country” Lebanon may be awarded medal for the entire period.

6. Persian Gulf....24 Jul 87 to 01 Aug 90 (Operation ERNEST WILL).

7. Persian Gulf/Iraq...(Operation SOUTHERN WATCH) 01 Dec 95 to TBD. The area consists of the land area and airspace of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq and the waters of and airspace above the Arabian Gulf west of 056E longitude. Individuals serving aboard vessels in the Red Sea in direct support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH are also eligible for the AFEM. Service members who earned the SWASM and subsequently become eligible for the AFEM in another tour are permitted to wear both medals. For example, an individual that earned the SWASM in 1991 and subsequently returns to the area after 01 Dec 95 may wear both awards. Both awards may not be earned by an individual who serves a single tour that spans the transition date of 01 Dec 95. In the case of those individuals whose service spans the transition date and meets the eligibility criteria for both awards, they may elect one or the other but not both awards.

8. El Salvador...01 Jan 81 to 01 Feb 92. The total land area of El Salvador. This award was approved by Section 525 of the FY96 Defense Appropriations Act.

9. Operation Southern Watch; including Maritime Intercept, Vigilant Sentinel, Desert Thunder, Desert Fox, Desert Spring, and Northern Watch; 01 Dec 95 to TBD. Only one award for participation in one or all operations.

10. Operation Joint Guard...20 Dec 96 to 20 Jun 98.

11. Operation Joint Endeavor......20 Nov 95 to 16 Dec 96.

12. Operation Joint Forge..21 Jun 98 to TBD (may elect to receive the AFSM vice AFEM).

(6) Eligible Ships and Units. Ships and units which are present in an area merely for training purposes are not eligible for the award. Squadrons or units embarked in a ship during the period for which that ship is listed as eligible are automatically eligible for the medal.

(7) Limitation of Medal. The medal shall be awarded only for operations for which no other U.S. campaign medal is approved, and shall not be issued for service in Vietnam after 03 Jul 65. For operations in which personnel of only one military department participate, the medal shall be awarded only if there is no other suitable award available to that department.

(8) Election of Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal/Vietnam Service Medal. Personnel who have earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Vietnam during the period 01 Jul 58 to 03 Jul 65, inclusive, may elect to receive the Vietnam Service Medal in lieu of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. No individual may be issued both medals for service in Vietnam during the period 01 Jul 58 to 28 Mar 73.

(9) Election of Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal/Navy or Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. Members of the naval service may elect one expeditionary medal for the following operations:

  • Lebanon...25 Aug 82
  • Libya...20 Jan 86 -27 Jun 96
  • Persian Gulf...24 Jul 87 -01 Aug 90

Approval of Operations. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) shall designate operations which qualify for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Recommendations for Military Operations to be designated shall be submitted through joint channels to the JCS.

A 3/16-inch bronze star is worn on the suspension ribbon of the medal and on the ribbon bar for participation in each subsequent operation; i.e., Lebanon, Taiwan, Cuba, etc. Participation in two or more engagements within the same operation does not qualify for the bronze star.

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