Pentagon working on criteria, design for new Iraq, Afghanistan medals
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon is ironing out criteria and design of two new campaign medals authorized by Congress to honor servicemembers who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Before recessing in May, both the House and Senate authorized the two new medals. President Bush signed the legislation into law May 28.
Now it’s up to the Defense Department to design the medals and their ribbons, and establish the eligibility criteria, which could take up to a year, according to Pentagon spokesman Jim Turner.
The new medals are different from the Global War on Terrorism medals that President Bush signed into law in March 2003.
The GWOT medals, as they are called, include an expeditionary medal awarded to servicemembers who have deployed to one of 44 specified combat areas around the globe and a service medal awarded to members who have served in support of combat operations, but not in those combat areas.
Until the GWOT medals were created, the U.S. military had offered campaign medals for each individual operation. Pentagon officials explained the break with tradition by saying that the all-encompassing medals reflected the global nature of the war on terror.
But some troops, as well as some in Congress, rallied for the establishment of separate campaign medals for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A bill calling for the campaign medals was narrowly defeated in the Senate last year, by a 48-47 vote. When the same bill was re-introduced this year, it passed both chambers easily.
A number of questions remain up in the air, such as whether a servicemember who has deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan would be eligible to receive both the new campaign medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, which includes those countries among the eligible combat zones.
Defense officials will address the overlap issue, Turner said in a Monday e-mail reply to questions from Stars and Stripes.