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Troops now authorized to wear service stars on GWOT-EM

By JON HARPER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 9, 2015

WASHINGTON — Troops are now authorized to wear service stars on their Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal suspensions and service ribbons if they have received more than one GWOT-EM for their support of overseas operations.

The new policy, retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, was approved by undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness Jessica Wright in a memorandum issued Monday. The change went into effect immediately.

Servicemembers are only allowed to wear one GWOT-EM suspension or service ribbon on their uniform, even if they participated in multiple operations and received more than one award.

In the past, there was no way to tell by looking at a servicemember’s uniform how many GWOT-EMs they had received. But the new policy has changed that. Troops may now wear a service star for each subsequent award.

For example, if a servicemember received a GWOT-EM for participating in Operation Enduring Freedom and one for Operation Iraqi Freedom, they may now wear one service star on their suspension or service ribbon to indicate a second award; if they received three medals for participating in OEF, OIF, and Operation New Dawn, they may wear two service stars, and so on.

The five approved operations are:

Enduring Freedom [OEF] (inclusive dates: Sept. 11, 2001- TBD);

Iraqi Freedom [OIF] (inclusive dates: Mar. 19, 2003-Aug. 31, 2010);

Nomad Shadow [ONS] (inclusive dates: Nov. 5, 2007-TBD);

New Dawn [OND] (inclusive dates: Sept. 1, 2010-Dec. 31, 2011);

Inherent Resolve [OIR] (inclusive dates June 15, 2014-TBD)

Although the Afghanistan component of OEF ended Dec. 31, OEF counterterrorism operations continue elsewhere in the world, including the Middle East, Africa, and the Philippines.

U.S. troops participating in Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the follow-on training and counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan, will not be eligible for the GWOT-EM. However, the Pentagon is currently staffing a request to make those troops eligible for the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and that request is expected to be approved, according to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision has been announced.

Operation Freedom Sentinel will help support the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan. U.S. troops in Afghanistan who participate in Operation Resolute Support will be eligible for the NATO Medal but not the GWOT-EM, according to defense officials.

harper.jon@stripes.com

Twitter: @JHarperStripes

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