Armed Forces Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal.png
TypeService medal
Awarded forParticipating in a designated U.S. military operation that did not encounter foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action
Presented bythe Department of Defense[1] and Department of Homeland Security
EligibilityU.S. military personnel
EstablishedJanuary 11, 1996
First awarded1996 (1996) (retroactive to June 1, 1992)
Armed Forces Service Medal ribbon.svg
Next (higher)Korea Defense Service Medal[2]
Next (lower)Humanitarian Service Medal[2]

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


The Armed Forces Service Medal is a round bronze medal 1+14 in (32 mm) in diameter. The obverse of the medal bears a demi-torch, as held by the Statue of Liberty, with rays radiating from behind the torch. Encircling at the top is the inscription ARMED FORCES SERVICE MEDAL. The reverse bears the eagle found on the United States Department of Defense seal. Below is a laurel wreath with the inscription IN PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY at the top.[3]

The suspension and ribbon of the medal are 1+38 in (35 mm) wide and consists of the following edge stripes from outside edge to the center: 116 in (1.6 mm) goldenlight, 18 in (3.2 mm) jungle green, 18 in (3.2 mm) green, 18 in (3.2 mm) mosstone green, and 18 in (3.2 mm) goldenlight. The center stripe is 14 in (6.4 mm) wide in bluebird.[3]


The Armed Forces Service Medal is the non-combat parallel of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal which is normally awarded for combat operations and other combat support missions.[4]

The AFSM may be awarded to service members who, on or after June 1, 1992:[5]

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.

Service members must have been permanently assigned, attached, or detailed to a unit that deployed to participate in a designated U.S. operation within the area of eligibility for 30 consecutive days (or for the full period when an operation is less than 30 days) or for 60 non-consecutive days.[5]

Aircrew members must have participated as a regular assigned crew member on an aircraft flying into, out of, within, or over the area of eligibility in direct support of the designated military operation for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days. One day of service is credited for the first sortie flown on any day. Additional sorties flown on the same day receive no further credit.[5]

The AFSM may be authorized for U.S. military operations for which no other U.S. campaign or service medal is appropriate such as:

The AFSM is not authorized for participation in national or international exercises. For operations in which personnel of only one military department participate, the AFSM will be awarded only if there is no other suitable award available to the department.[5]

Additional awards and devices

One award of the Armed Forces Service Medal is authorized for each designated military operation. Only one AFSM is awarded for multiple deployments for the same designated operation. Subsequent awards are denoted by wearing a bronze service star on the AFSM suspension and service ribbon. A silver service star is worn in lieu of five bronze service stars.

Approved operations

Approved U.S. Military Operations for the Armed Forces Service Medal[6]
Area or Operation Start Date End Date
Operation Maritime Monitor 1 June 1992 1 December 1992
Operation Provide Promise 2 June 1992 15 February 1996
Operation Deny Flight 12 April 1993 2 December 1995
Operation Sharp Guard 15 June 1993 20 September 1996
Task Force Able Sentry in support of United Nations Preventive Deployment Force 12 July 1993 31 March 1999
Operation Uphold Democracy 1 April 1995 31 January 2000
Operation Joint Endeavor 20 November 1995 19 December 1996
Operation Provide Comfort 1 December 1995 31 December 1996
Operation Joint Guard 20 December 1996 20 June 1998
Operation Joint Forge 21 June 1998 2 December 2004
Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita relief efforts 27 August 2005 27 February 2006
Operation Jump Start 15 May 2006 15 July 2008
Operation Unified Response 14 January 2010 1 June 2010
Operation United Assistance 16 September 2014 30 June 2015
Operation Oaken Steel 12 July 2016 26 January 2017
DoD Support to Customs and Border Protection to include Operation Faithful Patriot 7 April 2018 TBD
COVID-19 response[7] 31 January 2020 TBD
Capital Response I & II and the Presidential Inauguration 6 January 2021 TBD
Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) & Allies Welcome (OAW)[8] 31 August 2021 1 Apr 2022

As an exception to Department of Defense policy, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Armed Forces Service Medal may be awarded concurrently for Operations Joint Guard and Joint Endeavor.[9][10]

See also


  1. ^ "Issuances" (PDF). 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-09-12. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  2. ^ a b "Army Regulation 600–8–22 Military Awards" (PDF). Army Publishing Directorate. p. 17. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Campaign and Service Medals". The Institute of Heraldry. Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  4. ^ Harkins, Gina (19 August 2019). "Troops Who Deployed to the US-Mexico Border Are Getting a Medal". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Directives Division" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 9, 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Armed Forces Service Medal (AFSM) – Authorized Operations" (PDF). Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Troops Who Responded to COVID-19 Crisis Are Now Eligible for These Medals". Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  8. ^ Approval of the AFSM- OAR issued 16 March 2023
  9. ^ "Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) – Authorized Operations" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Public Law 105-85 Sec. 572". Government Printing Office. Retrieved 21 February 2017.