Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal
TypeService medal
Awarded forParticipating in or directly supporting nuclear deterrence operations after 26 December 1991.
Presented bythe Department of the Air Force[1]
EligibilityUnited States Air Force personnel
StatusCurrently awarded
Established27 May 2014
Service ribbon of the medal
Next (higher)Air and Space Campaign Medal[2]
Next (lower)Air Force Overseas Ribbon - Short Tour[3]

The Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal is a service medal of the United States Air Force established on 27 May 2014. The medal recognizes service by personnel in various career fields who have served in units involved with national strategic nuclear deterrence operations. Officer and enlisted personnel in the Active, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard communities are eligible for this medal. Eligible service is retroactive from 26 December 1991.


The establishment of the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal was announced by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James on 27 May 2014.[2] The timing of the announcement of the medal was very close to the timing of an announcement about the ongoing efforts of Air Force Global Strike Command to improve and reform the nuclear-capable and ICBM career fields.[4] The creation of this medal is part of a multifaceted approach to attract and retain high-caliber personnel in the nuclear and missile operations career fields.[5] The idea for this medal had been circulating within the Air Force for a few years prior to approval, with confirmation as early as 2011 that work was ongoing to develop this award.[6]


The Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal may be awarded to Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard personnel for service in support of US Air Force nuclear deterrence operations from 26 December 1991 until a date to be determined. To be eligible personnel had to have been assigned to the Nuclear Enterprise and performed duties in one of the following, including all Airmen assigned to nuclear missile and bomb wings, regardless of career field:[2][7]

The required length of service to be eligible for the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal is 120 consecutive or 179 non-consecutive days attached, deployed, assigned, or mobilized to a unit supporting the nuclear deterrence mission. After completion of the medal's requirements is certified by the individuals squadron commander, the group commander may approve the award of the medal. Subsequent awards may only be earned by completing the same service and requirements after a permanent change of station from the last assignment when the medal was earned.[2]

"N" Device

"N" Device as worn on the ribbon
"N" Device as worn on the ribbon

Certain individuals may be further recognized for their service with the award of a gold "N" device to attach to the medal's suspension and service ribbons. Per AFI 36-2803 para A2., this device will be worn by airmen who:

A) Dispatched to a missile complex for 179 non-consecutive days in direct support of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile operations, and performed duties in one of the following Air Force Specialty Codes:[2]

or B) for nuclear laden aircraft: nuclear certified aircrew, aircraft maintenance technicians, munitions maintenance technicians, combat crew communications, nuclear certified controllers, and security forces performing guard duties.


Ribbon with oak leaf cluster
Ribbon with oak leaf cluster

The medal is round and made of a gold colored metal. A graphic on the medal represents the core mission for personnel, nuclear capability. The medal is gold in color to represent the legacy of the United States' strategic nuclear deterrence mission. The medal is suspended from a blue ribbon with red, green and gold stripes. The blue represents "nuclear dominance of the sky", the red represents "power and passion" in providing nuclear deterrence, green represents Earth and global capability, and gold represents the participating personnel, "the wealth of our nuclear enterprise".[2]

Subsequent awards of the medal are recognized by oak leaf clusters. The "N" device may only be awarded once.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Production publication" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-27. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "MEMORANDUM FOR AF/A1 SUBJECT: Establishment of a Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal" (PDF). United States Air Force. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Decorations and Ribbons".
  4. ^ "Nuclear Deterrence Medal Approved". Air Force Magazine. Air Force Association. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Nuclear and Missile Operations Career Field Incentives" (PDF). United States Air Force. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). Strike Chiefs' Enlisted Forum. I (3): 7. Winter 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 April 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  7. ^ Armed Forces News Service (30 September 2014). "AF releases criteria for new service medal". F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Retrieved 1 October 2014.