DOD expands medal eligibility


ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. troops serving in Morocco and Burkina Faso or who are helping share intelligence with Turkey are eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

The medal is for troops who have deployed abroad since Sept. 11, 2001, in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Marine Corps announced the expanded eligibility criteria in November, followed by the Air Force on Monday.

The changes became effective in October for U.S. troops in Morocco and Burkina Faso, where they are helping to train local forces in counterterrorism as part of Operation Enduring Freedom — Trans Sahara, Defense officials said.

Last year, such missions involved about 1,000 U.S. troops in Morocco and a handful of troops in Burkina Faso, said Vince Crawley, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command.

In June, more than 30 servicemembers, mostly with the Utah Air National Guard, worked with Moroccan health officials to provide medical care to thousands of patients as part the annual "African Lion" exercise between the two countries, according to AFRICOM’s Web site.

The expanded eligibility criteria are retroactive to November 2007 for U.S. troops taking part in Operation Nomad Shadow, an intelligence sharing operation involving about a two dozen servicemembers in Turkey, Defense officials said.

Details of the operation are classified, said Lt. Cmdr. Kim Dixon, a spokeswoman for U.S. European Command.

The U.S. reportedly provided Turkey with intelligence on Kurdish separatists ahead of Turkey’s incursion into northern Iraq in December 2007, according to media reports.

Representatives from each of the military services were unable to say by deadline Tuesday how many servicemembers have become eligible for the medal since the changes took effect.

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