Armed Forces Service Medal

Armed Forces Service Medal

Armed Forces Service Medal
Awarded by All Branches of the United States Military
Type Service medal
Eligibility All personnel
Awarded for Engaging in "significant activity" for which no other campaign or service medal is authorized.
Status Current
First awarded 1996
Next (higher) Korea Defense Service Medal[1]
Next (lower) Humanitarian Service Medal[1]

Ribbon for the Armed Forces Service Medal

The Armed Forces Service Medal (AFSM) is a military award of the United States military which was created on January 11, 1996 by President Bill Clinton under Executive Order 12985. The medal is a theater service award which is presented to those service members who engage in "significant activity" for which no other campaign or service medal is authorized.

The term "significant activity" is determined by theater commanders and is normally deemed to be participation in a U.S. military operation considered to hold a high degree of scope, impact, and international significance that the operation warrants the presentation of a permanent service medal. Actions to be considered include peacekeeping operations, prolonged humanitarian actions, or military operations in support (or as a member of) NATO or United Nations forces.

The Armed Forces Service Medal was originally intended to be a replacement for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, however the two awards are considered separate awards with different award criteria. The primary difference between the two is that the Armed Forces Service Medal is awarded for actions "through which no foreign armed opposition or imminent threat of hostile action was encountered". This definition separates the two medals in that the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is normally awarded for combat operations and other combat support missions.

To qualify for the medal, service members must be bona fide members of a unit participating for one or more days in the operation within the designated areas of eligibility, or meet one or more of the following criteria:[2]

  1. Be engaged in direct support for 30 consecutive days in the area of eligibility or for 60 non-consecutive days provided this support involves entering the area of eligibility.
  2. Participate as a regularly assigned crew member of an aircraft flying into, out of, within, or over the area of eligibility in support of the operation.

Additional awards of the Armed Forces Service Medal are denoted by service stars.

Designated U.S. military operations

The following U.S. military operations are approved for award of the AFSM:[3]

As an exception to Department of Defense policy the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Armed Forces Service Medal may be awarded concurrently for the following Operations in Yugoslavia:

This medal was also awarded to U.S. Forces in relation to Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Rita relief efforts for 30 consecutive or 60 accumulated days from 27 August 2005 - 27 February 2006


  1. 1 2 "Army Regulation 600–8–22 Military Awards" (PDF). Army Publishing Directorate. p. 17. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  2. 578.34 Armed Forces Service Medal
  3. AFSM Approved Operations Archived October 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

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