Achievement Medal
Five Achievement Medals are awarded by branch or service. From left to right: Joint Service, Army, Navy & Marine Corps, Air Force & Space Force, and Coast Guard.
TypeMedal (decoration)
Awarded for"Meritorious service or achievement in either combat or noncombat situations based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature but which does not warrant a Commendation Medal or higher."
Presented byUnited States Department of Defense
United States Department of the Army[1]
United States Department of the Navy[2]
United States Department of the Air Force[3]
United States Department of Homeland Security[4]
EligibilityMilitary personnel only
StatusCurrently awarded
EstablishedNaval Service (1961)
Coast Guard (1963)
Army (1981)
Air and Space Forces (1980)
Joint Service (1983)
Service ribbons for the Joint Service, Army, Naval Service, Air and Space Forces, and Coast Guard Achievement Medals
Next (higher)Service commendation medals
Next (lower)Army: Prisoner of War Medal
Naval Service: Combat Action Ribbon
Air and Space Forces: Combat Action Medal
Coast Guard: Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon

The Achievement Medal is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize outstanding achievement or meritorious service[5] of military personnel who were not eligible to receive the higher Commendation Medal or the Meritorious Service Medal.

Each military service issues its own version of the Achievement Medal, with a fifth version authorized by the U.S. Department of Defense for joint military activity. The Achievement Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service not of a nature that would otherwise warrant awarding the Commendation Medal. Award authority rests with local commanders, granting a broad discretion of when and for what action the Achievement Medal may be awarded.[citation needed]


The Navy and Marine Corps ribbon bar of the Achievement Medal with "V" device denoting combat bravery. The "V" device ceased being awarded with Achievement Medals in late 2016.

Navy and Marine Corps

The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM), is the United States Navy and U.S. Marine Corps' version of the Achievement Medal. The U.S. Navy was the first branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to award such a medal, doing so in 1961, when it was dubbed the "Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement Medal." This title was shortened in 1967 to simply, the "Navy Achievement Medal." On August 19, 1994, to recognize those of the United States Marine Corps who had received the Navy Achievement Medal, the name of the decoration was officially changed to the "Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal". The award is still often referred to in shorthand speech as the "Navy Achievement Medal" or "NAM" for short.

Chain of Command approval

From its inception in the early 1960s to 2002, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal could not be approved by the commanding officers of ships, submarines, aviation squadron, or shore activities who held the rank of Commander (O-5). Awards for crewmembers had to be submitted to the Commodore or Air Wing Commander or the first appropriate O-6 in the chain of command for approval, who then signed the award and returned it. This led to a dramatically lower awarding rate when compared to similar size units in the Army or Air Force awarding their own achievement medals, especially considering that those services did not establish their respective achievement medals until the 1980s. Since 2002 the commanding officers of aviation squadrons and ships have had the authority to award NAMs without submission to higher authority.[6] This is in contrast to the Army, where battalion commanders or the first O-5 in a soldier's chain of command are the authorizing official.

Army, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard created its own Coast Guard Achievement Medal in 1967; the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force issued their own versions of the award with the Army Achievement Medal (AAM) in 1981[7] and Air Force Achievement Medal (AFAM) in 1980.[8] Effective 11 September 2001, the Army Achievement Medal may be awarded in a combat area.[9] Since this change over sixty thousand Army Achievement Medals have been awarded in theaters of operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.[10] On 16 November 2020, the Air Force Achievement Medal was renamed to the Air and Space Achievement Medal (ASAM) by the Secretary of the Air Force.[11]

Joint Service Achievement Medal

The Joint Service Achievement Medal (JSAM) was created in 1983.[12][13] This award was considered a Department of Defense decoration senior to the service department Achievement Medals.

Ribbon devices

The following devices may be authorized to be worn on the following achievement medals suspension ribbon and service ribbon:

Former ribbon devices

The following ribbon devices were authorized in the past but have now been discontinued:[15]

Notable recipients

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-01-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-18. Retrieved 2018-01-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Production publication" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-27. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  4. ^ "Data" (PDF). 2017.
  5. ^ "Air Force Achievement Medal".
  6. ^ SECNAVINST 1650.1H - NAVY AND MARINE CORPS AWARDS MANUAL (PDF) (Report). United States Navy. August 22, 2006. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-18. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Error". Archived from the original on 2012-01-21. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
  8. ^ a b "Factsheets : Air Force Achievement Medal". Archived from the original on 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  9. ^ "Army Achievement Medal".
  10. ^ Awards and Decorations Statistics by Conflict, Operation or Incident Archived August 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Department of the Air Force Manual 36-2806" (PDF). Air Force. October 27, 2022. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  12. ^ "Joint Service Achievement Medal". The Institute of Heraldry. Archived from the original on 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  13. ^ "Factsheets : Joint Service Achievement Medal". Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  14. ^ deGrandpre, Andrew; Panzino, Charlsy (30 March 2017). "12 military awards now eligible for new 'C' and 'R' devices, and 2 no longer rate a 'V'". Military Times. Virginia. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
    Dickstein, Corey (31 March 2017). "Pentagon implements 'C' and 'R' awards devices, removes 'V' from 2 awards". Stars and Stripes. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "Pentagon implements 'C' and 'R' awards devices, removes 'V' from 2 awards".
  16. ^ a b Levine, Peter (21 December 2016). "Section 3: Award Requirements and Restrictions" (PDF). DoD Instruction 1348.33: DoD Military Decoretions and Awards Program. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017. Includes Army Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Air Force Achievement Medal.
  17. ^ Then Known as HRH Prince William of Wales (In the United Kingdom) & William Wales (Used during his military service)