Global War on Terrorism Service Medal: Wikis


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Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Awarded by United States
Type Service medal
Awarded for Direct support in service to the Global War on Terrorism.
Status current
Established March 12, 2003
Next (higher) Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Next (lower) Korea Defense Service Medal
Related National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg

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The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal is a military decoration of the United States military which was created by Executive Order 13289 of President George W. Bush on March 12, 2003. The decoration recognizes those military service members who have performed service in the War on Terrorism from September 11, 2001 to a date to be determined.



To be awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a military service member must perform duty in a designated anti-terrorism operation for a period of either 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days of duty. For those who were engaged in combat, killed, or wounded in the line of duty the time requirement is waived.

The initial authorized operation for the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal was the so called "Airport Security Operation" which occurred between September 27, 2001 and May 31, 2002. Additional operations, for which the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal is authorized, include the active military campaigns of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Future operations are at the discretion of United States component commanders upon approval from the United States Department of Defense.

Support Duty

In 2004, Defense Department and military service branches began publishing directives, messages, and orders, that specified that the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal would be awarded not only for direct participation in specific operations, for also to any personnel who performed support duty of an anti-terrorism operation but do not directly participate.

The phrase "support" was further defined as any administrative, logistics, planning, operational, technical, or readiness activity which provides support to an operation of the Global War on Terrorism. As a result of this blanket term, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal became an eligible award for most personnel of the United States armed forces who performed service after September 11, 2001. As of 2007, it was standard practice to present the medal to any personnel who had served more than thirty days of duty and the GWOTSM effectively became an "automatic decoration" awarded to anyone serving in the military.

Between 2006 and 2007, regulations also clarified the award of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal to reservists, specifically that such reservists would receive the medal after performing three months of reserve duty in good standing which implied attendance at weekend drills and participation in a two week annual training period. Inactive reservists (IRR) are ineligible for the decoration.

With the orders granting the GWOTSM for "support duty", the medal has essentially become almost the same type of award as the National Defense Service Medal and graduates of training schools, ROTC, and service academies are typically presented both awards at the same time. The primary difference between the NDSM and the GWOTSM is that the NDSM is automatic as soon as a person joins the military whereas the GWOTSM may only be presented after thirty days of duty (or three months in the case of the reserves). The regulations for reservists are also not as well defined for the GWOTSM as they are for the NDSM, since the presentation of the NDSM to reservists has codified and clarified as far back as the Gulf War.

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal

A similar decoration, known as the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, also was created under the same Presidential Order that authorized the GWOT Service Medal. The primary difference between the two awards is that the service medal is intended for those who performed duty within the United States while the expeditionary medal recognizes those who were deployed to foreign countries.

For those participating in multiple operations, both the GWOT Service and GWOT Expeditionary Medal may be authorized, however both medals cannot be bestowed for service in a single operation. In addition, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal may not be awarded, in lieu of the service medal, if duty was performed within the United States and not in an overseas deployed status.

Service and battle stars

Only one award of this medal may be authorized for any individual; therefore, no service stars are prescribed.

Although qualifying circumstances would be extremely rare, battle stars may be applicable for personnel who were engaged in actual combat against the enemy involving grave danger of death or serious bodily injury. Only a Combatant Command can initiate a request for a battle star. This request will contain the specific unit(s) or individual(s) engaged in actual combat, the duration for which combat was sustained, and a detailed description of the actions against the enemy.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the approving authority for the specific battle stars.

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