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Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal: Wikis


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Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Awarded by Department of Defense
Type Single-grade Medal
Eligibility Military personnel only
Awarded for Awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces who, after July 1, 1958, have participated in a United States military operation and encountered foreign armed opposition, or were in danger of hostile action by foreign Armed Forces.
Status Currently awarded
Description The obverse has an eagle with wings raised, perched on a sword. In back of this is a compass rose, with rays coming from the angles of the compass points. This design is encircled by the inscription "Armed Forces" at the top and "Expeditionary Service" below. Between these words, completing the circle is a sprig of laurel on each side.

The reverse has the shield as it appears on the President's seal. Below this are branches of laurel to right and left, joined in the center by a knot. At the top, in a semicircle, is the inscription "United States of America."

The ribbon has three narrow stripes of blue, white, and red in the center, flanked by wide stripes of light blue and, on each side, four equal stripes of black, brown, yellow, and green. The center stripes symbolize the United States, and the many colors at the edges symbolize other areas of the world.

Established Executive Order 10977, Dec. 4, 1961
Next (higher) Antarctica Service Medal
Next (lower) Vietnam Service Medal

Streamer AFE.PNG

The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) is a military award of the United States military, which was first created in 1961 by Executive Order of President John Kennedy. The decoration is awarded for participation in "any military campaign of the United States for which no other service medal is authorized." Additional awards of the medal are denoted by service stars, with the arrowhead device also authorized for United States Army personnel who are awarded the decoration through participation in an airborne or amphibious assault. The Fleet Marine Force combat operation insignia is also authorized for certain sailors.

Since its original conception over forty years ago, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal has been awarded for United States participation in over forty five designated military campaigns. The first campaign of the AFEM was the Cuban Missile Crisis and the award was issued for military service between October 1962 and June 1963. Following this original issuance, the AFEM was made retroactive to 1958 and issued for actions in Lebanon, Taiwan, the Congo, Quemoy and Matsu, and for duty in Berlin between 1961 and 1963.

During the early years of the Vietnam War, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued for initial operations in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. In 1965, with the creation of the Vietnam Service Medal, the AFEM was discontinued for Vietnam War service. As the Vietnam Service Medal was retroactively authorized, those personnel who had previously received the AFEM were granted the option to exchange the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the Vietnam Service Medal. After the close of the Vietnam War, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued for various military operations in Panama, Grenada, and Libya. The AFEM has been issued for numerous operations in the Persian Gulf, most notably Operation Earnest Will, which began in 1987 and lasted until the eve of the Gulf War. Following the close of the first Gulf War, and the engagement in peacekeeping and sanction missions against Iraq, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued again for several operations such as Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Vigilant Sentinel. The medal is also authorized for several United Nations actions, such as peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and Somalia. In 2003, with the creation of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the AFEM was discontinued for Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. After 18 March 2003, some personnel became eligible for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, as well as the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Only one medal may be awarded, however, and individuals or units that deployed to the Gulf for Operation Southern Watch, and then immediately trasitioned to Operation Iraqi Freedom, are not eligible for both medals.

A complete listing of approved operations for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is as follows:

Beginning in 1992 an effort was begun to phase out the AFEM in favor of campaign specific medals and the newly created Armed Forces Service Medal. To date, however, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is still listed on official precedence charts and the decoration is still considered an active service medal.

The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal is similar in nature to the AFEM, and was awarded for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom up until June 2005 when it was replaced by the Iraq Campaign Medal for Operations directly in Iraq and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for Operations directly in Afghanistan. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is no longer currently issued for operations in the Middle East, but may be reactivated for future campaigns which may not qualify for either the GWOTEM, the Iraq Campaign Medal or Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

The United States Navy and Marine Corps issue two similar decorations, the Navy Expeditionary Medal and the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. In the modern age, service members authorized one of the aforementioned decorations are occasionally permitted to choose between receipt of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the service specific expeditionary medal. The AFEM and the Navy/Marine Expeditionary Medal cannot be bestowed simultaneously for the same action.

The United States Air Force also maintains a decoration known as the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon. Despite the similarity in names, however, this award is unrelated to the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and rather is presented for duty performed on Air Force deployments.


Any false written or verbal claim to a decoration or medal or any wear, purchase, attempt to purchase, solicitation for purchase, mailing, shipping, import, export, manufacture, sale, attempt to sell, advertising for sale, trade, or barter of a decoration or medal authorized for wear by authorized military members or veterans is a federal offense punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. [1]


  1. ^ 18 U.S.C. 704


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