Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal authorized for Operation Inherent Resolve
By CHRIS CARROLL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 31, 2014
WASHINGTON — The Defense Department on Friday announced that troops who deploy in support of current operations in Iraq and Syria are eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
Until now, there was uncertainty over what medal would be awarded to troops who participate in Operation Inherent Resolve. The operation to combat Islamic State extremists who overran broad sections of Iraq this spring and summer remained unnamed for more than two months after the United States initiated airstrikes in early August.
“This award provides immediate recognition to our servicemembers supporting efforts to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL” — another name for the Islamic State — “and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community,” the Pentagon said its announcement of the expansion of eligibility.
A Friday memo from Jessica L. Wright, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said that troops operating in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in the following countries after June 15, were now eligible for the medal: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Troops supporting the operation in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea east of 25 degrees longitude are also eligible.
The medal is approved retroactively beginning June 15, the Pentagon said.
The U.S. military has some 1,400 troops in Iraq providing security and advising Iraqi government and Kurdish troops. That number could rise if U.S. advisers begin supporting Sunni tribes battling the Islamic State in the Anbar province of western Iraq, a possibility Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey recommended Thursday.
Meanwhile, Air Force and Navy pilots have flown hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since August 8, and thousands of troops are supporting operations from other locations in the Middle East.