Joint Meritorious Unit Award

JMUA with Army-style frame (above)
with Navy/Marine Corps/Air Force/Space Force/Coast Guard-style frame (below)
Awarded forAwarded to joint units or units tasked to perform a joint mission.
Presented byUnited States Department of Defense[1]
EligibilityMilitary units
StatusCurrently awarded
EstablishedJune 4, 1981; 43 years ago (1981-06-04)
First awardedSeptember 30, 1982 (1982-09-30) (retroactive to January 1979)
Last awardedOngoing
award streamer
Next (higher)Presidential Unit Citation
Next (lower)Army: Valorous Unit Award[2]
Naval Service: Navy Unit Commendation[3]
Air and Space Forces: Gallant Unit Citation[4]
Coast Guard: Department of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award[5]

The Joint Meritorious Unit Award (JMUA) is a US military award that was established on June 4, 1981, by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and was implemented by Department of Defense Directive 1348.27 dated July 22, 1982. The Joint Meritorious Unit Award was made retroactive to January 23, 1979.[6]


Authorized by the Secretary of Defense on June 10, 1981, this award was originally called the Department of Defense Meritorious Unit Award. It is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to joint activities for meritorious achievement or service, superior to that which is normally expected, for actions in the following situations; combat with an armed enemy of the United States, a declared national emergency, or under extraordinary circumstances that involve national interests.[7]

The first organization to receive the Joint Meritorious Unit Award was the "Electronic Warfare During Close Air Support Joint Test Force" and was awarded the decoration on September 30, 1982.[8] The JMUA was also awarded to U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy who served in Somalia in the early 1990s.[9]

It was awarded for Operation Praying Mantis in 1988. Returning Navy units were to receive a Presidential Unit Citation, but it was downgraded after Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by USS Vincennes.[citation needed]

The Joint Meritorious Unit Award is a ribbon, enclosed in a gold frame. Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard recipients wear a different, smaller frame than do U.S. Army, as the latters' unit awards are displayed at a different location on the uniform.[10][11][12] The ribbon is very similar to the Defense Superior Service Medal, indicative of the fact that the service performed would warrant the award of the medal to an individual. Subsequent decorations of the Joint Meritorious Unit Award are annotated with oak leaf clusters.[13]


  1. ^ "Issuances" (PDF). 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  2. ^ "Unit Awards". The Institute of Heraldry. United States Department of the Army. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Navy Awards Precedence Chart". Navy Personnel Center. United States Navy. Archived from the original on 9 April 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Awards and decorations". Air Force Personnel Center. United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  5. ^ "COMDTINST M1650.25E Medals and Awards Manual" (PDF). US Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard. pp. Enclosure 22. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  6. ^ Department of Defense Manual NUMBER 1348.33, Volume 1 (23 November 2010), DTIC Online, date accessed 201-04-05.
  7. ^ "Awards and decorations". Air Force Personnel Center. United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  8. ^ Joint Meritorious Unit Award – Approved DoD Activities, Department of Defense OEPM, date accessed 2011-04-05
  9. ^ "Publication" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-07-30. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  10. ^ "Joint Meritorious Unit Award with Army Frame". USAMM.
  11. ^ "Joint Meritorious Unit Award with NAVY/AF/MC/CG Frame". USAMM.
  12. ^ "Joint Meritorious Unit Award (Small Frame) - Navy Medals & Ribbons".
  13. ^ Fact Sheet: Joint Meritorious Unit Award Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine, Air Force Personnel Center, date accessed 2011-04-05.